Your business is, at least to some extent, defined by your operational processes. Lots of other businesses do what you do. But they don’t do it how you do it. In this sense, your processes can be your USP. They can provide your ‘value added’ in the eyes of your clientele and differentiate you from the competition.
Your processes determine your results, and they are a defining factor of your brand. As such, your team need to understand how to carry out your operations to your exacting standards. What’s more, you need to keep revisiting and revising your processes. This helps to ensure they’re always fit for purpose and as efficient as possible.
Process mapping can help you to demonstrate, evaluate and improve your processes. Let’s take a closer look.
Process maps explained
A process map is a diagram that is used to map out the series of discrete tasks that make up your operational processes. It describes the transformation from inputs to outputs – for instance, the conversion of raw materials into products, or the conversion of prospecting calls to sales.
In their simplest form, process maps are written as a flowchart. However, there are more detailed process maps like cross-functional flowcharts, value stream maps and SIPOC (Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, and Customers) maps.
Businesses use process maps for all kinds of reasons:
When onboarding new team members and explaining processes to them
When planning new projects
When modelling processes for clients (e.g. when pitching for a contract)
When managing and analysing workflows
When communicating ideas between different teams
Wherever problems need to be solved, process mapping can help.
How to create a process map
Whatever kind of process map you want to create, you’ll find that most use the same kind of methodology. Here are the steps required to create a process map:
Step 1 – Identify the problem / process
What is the process you need to visualise? Why do you need to map this process? Is it underperforming or inefficient? Or have you simply not revisited it for a few years? Knowing this will ensure your process map meets its desired outcomes and is fit for purpose.
Step 2 – Bring your team together
You can plan a process map on your own. But to gain a more balanced and holistic view, it’s much more beneficial to assemble everyone whose input contributes to the process.
Step 3 – Gather your data
Ascertain clear parameters for the process, deciding where they begin and end. Get a comprehensive list of every step between your start and endpoints. Account for all the process’ inputs and outputs. Establish who does what and when during the process.
Step 4 – Map out your process
Now organise the steps of your process into sequential order and use these to draw your baseline process map. This models the process as it is currently.
Step 5 – Analyse and implement
Now you have a clear map of your process, you are well-positioned to analyse it for shortcomings. Look for places where you can make improvements to aid efficiency and remove bottlenecks.
Implement changes that will add value to your clientele and help your team to be more time-efficient.
Why do I need a process map?
Mapping out your processes prevents them from stagnating. It ensures that your processes are always fit for purpose and generating value in the eyes of the customer.
Process maps can help with everything from improving customer satisfaction to reducing operational costs. Furthermore, the act of process mapping itself can be a great way to bring your team together and allow them to play an active part in shaping the processes that make your business unique.
We can help
If you’re interested in finding out more about process mapping, or improving your operational processes, then get in touch with our financial experts. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.