6 Essential tips on how to map a process in your business
Writing a process map can feel quite daunting. There are specific thoughts and feelings which come into play, and these are the common ones which I encounter:
1. Where do I begin…
2. How much detail do I go into…
3. What if I miss something significant…
4. I don’t have the software…
5. I don’t have time…
6. I don’t know what I’m doing…
Let’s explore each one…
Where do I begin…
Great question! So without sounding annoying, right at the beginning.
Let’s take an example: The opening and closing procedure of the office…
Open a Word document or grab a piece of paper – whatever feels best to get your thoughts flowing…
The beginning would be the keys:
• how many are there
• are they labelled
• is it clear which key does what
For example – there is a padlock, then a shutter and then the main door key. You could mark them/add coloured key covers to make it easier.
Then there is the alarm:
• What are the EXACT buttons you have to press?
• In what order?
• What do they look like?
• Is there an image or something helpful to aid the person?
Could you take a picture of the alarm and add arrows/shapes to make it easy to understand?
Then what? Think about all the steps that you would like the person to do after that point:
• Put all the lights on? Alternatively, just certain ones?
• Open the blinds
• Check the building for any issues (leaks etc.)
• Pop the heating on/air con (if necessary)
• Log on the computer
• Open up XZY programmes
• Pop the kettle on
• Get the morning brew ready for the team (You could go so far as a list of people and what they have to drink!)
• Check voicemails
• Etc – keep going…
Walk through the process yourself and write down EVERYTHING.
It’s also a good idea to write down possible problems and the solutions or steps you would like them to take. This could also include things like emergency contact details or your trusted tradespeople for example.
How much detail do I go into…
FULL information. Think that you are explaining it to someone who has never set foot in the building, use plain English, no jargon and always second guess questions. It needs to be “idiot proof.”
When you are writing processes for tasks, this is important. I always say, imagine you need to explain it to your granny or a young person. That is the level of depth and simplicity you need to go into.
What if I miss something essential…
Going through something and writing it as you go will cut down on this, but we are all human, you may forget something – but having something written is better than nothing.
Before you roll it out, give it to someone to test it/run through (someone who is not familiar and therefore won’t second guess it) and let them provide you with feedback or watch them do it so you can see any glaring mistakes if you are familiar with the process.
If you are asking your staff members to write documents for you, get them to ask other team members to test them out (where possible) or have a go yourself!
Processes are to be reviewed, tweaked and amended regularly; they are never DONE. Add dates to your diary to do a review at least every 3-6 months. That way it will be easy to keep on top of them, and it won’t feel like a mammoth task for anyone.
I don’t have the software…
You don’t need it. Yes, there is software out there, but if you don’t want to use it simple things like Word, Excel and PowerPoint are good enough. If you wanted to try out some software here are some to try …
An article listing the pro’s and cons and some other alternatives may be useful to read.
I don’t have time…
I know. I hear this all the time. It is time-consuming, BUT it is worth it.
Set yourself or your team the task of doing ONE PER DAY or more if it’s realistic (short processes don’t take that long…) Tackling it one at a time in a methodical way will soon allow you to build a collection quickly.
It’s also worth doing quick wins with staff in the first instance, so they buy into the project and see the value. Ensure you set up a plan of action to do the processes and prioritise them.
If your business is cycler or runs in a systemised process itself, then tackle the right processes at the right time. For example – If it’s financial year end, then do the year-end process first.
I don’t know what I’m doing…
If you are struggling to do these and you have staff, then it’s essential that you ask for their help, they are the experts in their area of work.
If you need advice on how to tackle it as a project, then it may be worth investing in some external help. Yes, I’m going to drop it in here… someone like me.
A fresh pair of eyes can also help you to streamline further and make tasks faster, concise and accurate. This can lead to technological advances in the business which can bring MASSIVE improvements and growth into your business.
By using someone external, you get an impartial person taking a look at your business with you. Positively questioning, and making suggestions. You’ll be surprised how many game changing light bulb moments happen in a process mapping session. This is the part of my business I love the most because it’s where the biggest breakthroughs happen.