Steps involved in workflow process mapping
When you are building a workflow process map, you need to follow these six steps.
The first and foremost step is to identify the workflow process to be mapped. Have clarity while identifying the workflow and see if it fits the automation criteria. Discuss with team members and ask yourself if the workflow to be mapped is developed enough to be automated. Try to identify possibilities of errors.
Gathering relevant information
When you have clarity, gather all information as much as possible to achieve the workflow map. The information should lead to eventual automation. Outline all
Developing the workflow process map
In this step, you will develop the actual workflow map. Outline the steps from start to end in sequence. While the detailing of information is entirely up to you, typically, you need to include metrics, inputs, outputs, and stakeholder information.
Using a workflow mapping tool makes the task much more straightforward. The workflow mapping will help you configure different components per your requirement. The workflow mapping tool will be ideal for documentation and creates centralized access. This will give you better visibility and help identify the redundancies in the workflow map.
In this step, you will get feedback. Review the workflow process map with the stakeholders for validation. Different teams involved in the process will help identify the frequent bottlenecks and errors. You can now align the process and improve by consolidating, eliminating, and re-ordering steps.
Finalizing and Monitoring
This is the final stage of the workflow mapping, where the workflow map is approved and monitored continuously based on the improvements made.
Can Workflow Mapping Really Strengthen Efficiency?
Any trained speaker can spend hours explaining the process but given a piece of the diagram, it is easy to witness that a group of people will understand the idea in minutes.
Sometimes you need to root out the inefficiency and make an effort by using smart workflow mapping tools.
The process of workflow mapping may take a couple of hours but once it is perfected, every employee will be able to quickly understand what is expected of them. The process, how it flows from one step to another, the people assigned for different stages, how to carry it out and the indicators make up for an easier understanding.
The primary purpose of having a map is to provide an overall picture for every last person. It helps motivate them a lot instead of instructing someone to move a file or write something that they will never understand why it is being done.
Here is an example of a business travel workflow map:
Fig: Workflow Mapping Example
The employer can create a sense of belonging and by providing a clear idea, it will get the job done with more precision and efficiency.
Besides, the mapped workflow will be the only guide anyone has to refer to. Every detail including the tasks to be done, alternate routes if there are an obstacle, and deciding authorities will be mentioned.
It is easy to compare the mapping to Google Maps which automatically suggests the best route, obstacles, and the proposed time it takes to reach a location.
Moreover, workflow process maps reveal different approaches to a task. When you drill down a process, ensure people have mentioned all the tasks appropriately.
People may not leave some tasks intentionally, but when you compare the workarounds of a process map, you will know precisely how the process is being performed. Charles Cox, Principal at Firefly Consulting, says, “as people work at a job, they develop workarounds and shadow processes. These workarounds are mainly not intentional and are unconscious. And when the workarounds are easily hidden within office transactions, it is revealed once the action is completed.”
Though it doesn’t need to, workflow mapping can optimize efficiency and is always done as a part of re-engineering your processes. When you and your teammate can see all the tasks in a process clearly, you can put together all the pieces of the puzzle to get the bigger picture. This becomes easier when the process is automated. Therefore, when you use workflow automation tools like Cflow, this re-engineering becomes much simpler and leads to more efficiency.
Workflow Use Cases
Manual mapping is susceptible to human error and redundancies, affecting customer experience and product quality. Any operational procedure within an organization is described as a workflow. There are many workflow use cases and some of the most common types include.
E-commerce and retailing:
When a customer buys a product and submits payment information, the transaction is processed, and payment is received. The ordered item is picked from the warehouse, packed, and shipped to the customer.
Purchase orders in an organization are approval workflows involving support and finance managers. The purchase orders go through the departments to establish a final budget for purchasing items. The process includes legal and company compliance requirements.
Customer service support:
The ticketing system is one of the most effective forms of workflow use cases and is an integral part of digital workflows. They are designed to provide systematic routine steps to be followed while resolving customer problems.
The bank workflow use cases comprise an account opening by a new customer involving a series of sequential tasks. The identity credentials and the financial information of the customer are collected. The financial institution then discloses relevant account information. The transactions are documented and maintained for auditing purposes.
Onboarding new employees:
Onboarding new hires into the company is quite a challenging process that involves a series of steps to be completed – from legal paperwork, access to a network and other IT resources, training, and orientation.
Medical institution workflow maps typically comprise the logging of every patient visiting the clinic, their medical records, diagnosis, and management procedures followed.
Manufacturing and other industries:
Product manufacturing involves complex workflows as the product can move linear and through different patterns depending on what is being manufactured.
The Primary Benefits of Workflow Mapping
With the help of workflow mapping software like Cflow, the number of benefits that you will instantly gain is plenty. The visual roadmap creates better clarity on the work that is being carried out and eradicates any shortcomings if found.
Turn it into a Picture
Converting your business into a picture is no easy task unless you start relying on workflow mapping. Because it is the only and the best way to see the path a task travels before it reaches its final completion stage.
When you create workflow maps, you are making a baseline for the process. You will have your work cut and see others involved in successfully completing a process. This is why it is critical to map out as you get a bird’s eye view of the process. With this, no task will go undocumented and certainly see the areas of development clearly.
Is Something Wrong?
Oftentimes, the decision-makers and top management may feel something is wrong but will just not be able to pinpoint the issue. The visual mapping helps in identifying problems rather than feeling lost amidst tons of different tasks.
Find the Delay Areas
A lot of tasks once commenced years ago will be handled in the same manner until someone identifies that there is a redundancy. Instead of leaving things to luck, you should consider finding where the delays happen and fix them.
Let People Take Responsibility
Every task will be assigned to a specific person and will move from one step to another. They will have an opportunity to work more efficiently and take responsibility in case of errors occur. Most management issues arise from accountability which can be fixed by mapping the business process.
Better Way to do it
There is always a better way to do any process because what is being currently followed will often be marred by errors. With the help of workflow process mapping, it is easier to identify the best way to do any process, improve the flow and weed out the inconsistencies.
Industries and businesses have their own regulatory bodies. They follow those regulations for compliance. The standard compliance regulations such as ISO 9000 for practicing quality standards. Auditing compliance regulations can be cumbersome and time-consuming. While auditing, when you present a library of process maps, the auditor can review it easier and quicker to comprehend.
An auditor in a Triaster’s ISO 9001:2015 audit mentioned that when the company used online interconnected flowcharts as the basis of their business management system it made it easier to navigate and the audit was completed successfully. Even before starting the actual auditing, the workflow process maps will show precisely the areas that need to be concentrated for compliance.
When you are creating workflow maps, you are not only making for the benefit of process completion but also for knowledge transfer. When an employee moves out from your company, the knowledge moves with them. Therefore, workflow mapping is an excellent way of knowledge sharing. One key thing in workflow management is that it will have updated information about a specific ongoing process in your company. Employees can easily access this information whenever needed. Moreover, since each step in a process is captured and stored for reference, this makes people involved accountable and reduces errors.