Business Process Mapping: A Path to Success
Business Process Mapping, or BPM, is a pivotal method of outlining and evaluating your business procedures from start to finish. It provides a way to visualize your business operations by focusing on each individual activity or task involved in a process. BPM utilizes maps and flowcharts as a resource for guidance and review.
Although mapping varies in its visual presentation, it answers similar questions such as:
- Who is responsible for which task (and is it specific to the person or the position)?
- What are the tasks in the process?
- What is the role of the task within the entire process sequence and when does it occur?
- What will determine when success within a task has been achieved?
Powerful perspective is obtained when maps and graphs are used to outline and evaluate staff utilization, use of materials, cost effectiveness, and other aspects of the systems you have in place. Improving processes through review and refinement allows your business to streamline and become a more productive and efficient organization.
The Visible Nature of BPM
BPM is a visual point of reference for how a process, in conjunction with its tasks, needs to operate from start to finish. Kissflow, a business process platform provider explains that “the benefits of BPM include corporate clarity around the process, systematic control over how the process functions, established operational norms, elimination of redundancies, increased process visibility, better compliance with industry standards, more uniform employee training.”
To visualize performance at each level, BPM utilizes flowcharts and maps that represent a process. Symbols and directional indicators identify tasks and routines within the process. These maps define operational roles and responsibilities, while outlining what constitutes the beginning and ending of the associated tasks. The feedback from mapping and charting provides a better understanding of the entire path of the process while drilling down to evaluate functionality within each task.
Some of the rewards of BPM include:
- Reduced Redundancy
- Opportunities for Automation
- Lowered Cost
- Improved Quality
- Targeted and effective training
Whether it is a process to qualify new vendors for your procurement division, or a system for processing employee benefits within HR, BPM provides a road map of highs and lows in front and back-office environments. It gives businesses a leg up in streamlining and eliminating costly imperfections such as redundancy and the performance of unnecessary tasks.
The Anatomy of Maps
Also referred to as business process modeling diagrams, the mapping system of BPM has several variations to accommodate the scope of the process. Shapes, symbols, lines, and layouts are part of the methodology used to define starts, stops, and other measures within a ‘piece’ or ‘task’ of the process.
Types of BPM charts and maps include:
- Flowchart – provides your business with a bird’s eye view of the steps required to solve a problem, shedding light on issues within a process, rather than an overall view of the entire process
Goal: the discovery of unnecessary or redundant tasks that can be removed from the process
- Data Flow Diagram (DFD) – provides a visual representation of data as it flows from being unprocessed to processed.
Goal: to uncover things affecting the process overall, such as paths needed between ‘systems’ to assure proper information sharing
- Value stream mapping – maps out the vital tasks within a process
Goal: to examine the time and capacity managed at each step
- Value chain mapping – an upper-level corporate strategy directive, this mapping breaks down the tasks associated with a company’s main service or product process
Goal: to identify opportunities for performance improvement
- Cross-functional map – also called a ‘swim lane chart’, this map details the input and output tasks of each step within a process
Goal: identify which department and role performs which task
- Detail process map –a detailed map outlining current process inputs, outputs, and variables in comparison to how the process needs to function
Goal: visualization and review of the details within the tasks that create the process, which is pivotal in finding root causes of errors, inefficiencies, and waste
- SIPOC – pronounced ‘sigh-pock’, and an acronym for Suppliers, Inputs, Processes, Outputs, and Customers, this is a map in table form that comes into play during implementation
Goal: to outline the steps within a new process from start to finish
As alterations are made and the process and its tasks take form, revisiting, and refining is ongoing. Performing additional BPMs and documenting the effectiveness of the changes is vital in facilitating process evolution as future directives come to fruition.
Once the mapping is complete, your business will gain an understanding of the tasks and processes and utilize the results to both compliment what is in place, as well as implement changes and improvements.
The Ability to Analyze
Businesses regularly admit that they step into key decisions in the absence of concrete data to support those decisions. Business Process Mapping provides the foundation for ideas and change.
Once you have the map, however, the real work begins. The true skill within BPM is the ability to find and understand both the inefficiencies and the savings. Determining what changes to make and how to model, measure, and realize the results prompts business directives such as:
- Where and how efficiencies can be initiated
- Locating and implementing lower cost resources
- Streamlining technology while improving accuracy
Identifying and implementing productive and efficient avenues toward success is the overall goal of business process mapping. Uncovering and highlighting the pros and cons of front and back-office systems sheds light on beneficial changes within an existing foundation that stems from many levels including operational, hierarchical, and financial.
From charts reflecting statistical outcomes to maps highlighting tourist hotspots, the combination of symbols, lines, and connections provides a helpful resource. People and businesses can gain an overview of an area, review the outcome of a study, or evaluate tasks within a process.
There are many reasons why a business would benefit from engaging in BPM. Cost management, changes in industry regulations, market performance review, and collecting an overall perspective can help businesses achieve their financial objectives while meeting internal goals within the organizational processes. By eliminating the use of inefficient and potentially unnecessary resources, companies are reducing their costs and in return, are seeing increased profits and productivity.