Setting the foundations: The importance of process mapping
Whether you’re a large corporate enterprise or a growing start-up, your business processes are fundamental to operating successfully. Understanding these processes and, importantly, knowing how to improve them, can be a challenge. And that’s where process mapping comes in. Let’s examine the importance of process mapping – and how it provides the foundation for all kinds of valuable business enhancements.
What is process mapping?
Process mapping—or business process mapping (BPM) to give its full name—is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the act of creating a “map” of a process, in the form of a flow diagram which details every step of that process.
Once upon a time, processes would be mapped on paper, by hand—if at all. Today, digital solutions like our own Nintex Promapp®, make it easier to explore and document processes effectively and also to share them throughout an organization.
When processes are documented, it means an organization can make them more standardized and consistent, leading to greater efficiency, and also making it easier for everyone—including new starters—to know exactly what they need to do at all times. Process mapping helps to define roles and responsibilities in business processes and ensure they’re clearly understood by all participants.
But that’s not the only reason why process mapping is important. As well as ensuring your existing processes are carried out effectively, it also helps you to re-engineer them to be even more effective.
Visibility, insight, improvement
Process maps help to gain insight into how processes work—and also how well they work. When a process has been mapped out, it’s easier to see where issues can occur, where time and effort is being needlessly wasted, and where changes might be made to improve the process.
These defects are sometimes only visible when a process has been formally mapped out, and can then be corrected, and the revised process circulated and practiced. So far, so good. But how do you find out if your new and improved processes are performing as well as you hope?
To monitor and evaluate your processes easily and effectively, they first need to be digitized. Workflow automation software allows you to convert the process maps you’ve created into automated workflows, which are basically your processes in a digital form.
Workflows guide each participant of a process through each step where their input is needed, presenting them with the tools and data they need to play their part, and automatically alerting the next participant when it’s their turn. It ensures everyone knows exactly what they need to do, and when they need to do it, so processes more run smoothly, accurately, and successfully.
With the power of workflow automation, some steps or even whole sequences can be carried out automatically by the system. A sequence of events can be triggered by one user’s input, and whole sections of a process can be completed without the need for any effort or attention.
On its own, digitizing your processes with workflow automation can deliver great benefits. But there’s more. At this point, you can now harness the power of process analytics to gain insight into your processes’ performance.
Process analytics provide in-depth, real-time visibility into your business processes. You can answer questions like these:
- How long does a process take? Is it taking too long?
- Which processes are used the most? Or which are used least?
- Where are bottlenecks occurring? How can they be prevented?
- Which processes are performing best? And which are performing worst?
These data-driven insights would not be possible without first mapping out processes and then making them available to be carried out in digital form. Armed with this analytics-powered knowledge, you can start removing needless steps, reworking processes to remove inefficiencies, and now to go even further by turbocharging your processes with RPA.
Add a little RPA
RPA stands for “robotic process automation”. The robots in question are software robots and, like their physical robot relatives on factory production lines, they handle high-volume, high-fatigue manual tasks so that human employees no longer struggle with heavy workloads and long hours.
A “bot” can carry out many of the tasks a person who is sitting at a computer would, for instance:
- Extracting information from forms and storing it elsewhere
- Moving files and folders from one place to another
- Making calculations using data from multiple sources
Think how many common business processes involve transferring information received in an email or a document to be stored and processed. At its worst, this requires a lot of copying and pasting or even typing, which isn’t the best use of skilled personnel or company time. And mistakes can easily occur when a tired employee is re-typing the hundredth figure in a row and transposes a digit or pastes the same text twice by mistake.
RPA doesn’t get tired, and it doesn’t make mistakes. And that’s why businesses everywhere are using it to relieve heavy workloads and improve precision—welcomed by their employees who are happy to get the hard manual work off their shoulders.
It all starts with understanding the importance of process mapping
This article has covered a lot of ground, taking you all the way to software robots carrying out time-consuming business tasks. But don’t forget: we began with process mapping. Without first mapping out your business processes, none of this journey can take place, and none of these great benefits can be achieved. This is the true importance of process mapping—without this foundation, nothing else can be built on top of it. It all starts here.
If you’d like to learn more about process mapping or any of the other technologies explored here, and what they can do for your business, get in touch with the team at Nintex today.