If one were to ask two individuals the steps they perform to achieve the same end result, chances are, they will have different methods of completing the task. While this may not matter for some assignments, it may be an inhibitor for getting other tasks finished in an efficient manner. For companies that are process oriented, like Whittaker Associates, it’s important to utilize process maps to guarantee optimum velocity of work flow.
Process maps are similar to flowcharts in that they plot each detail of a procedure. A person, or group, is assigned to a step, and the entire process can be seen in chronological order from start to finish. There are several advantages to using process maps, including:
- Greater understanding of how a task fits into the overall processes of a firm
- Bridging communication gaps where processes span across several departments
- Identifying bottlenecks and possible “hand-off” problems that may arise between process steps
- Reducing unproductive/wasteful/unnecessary tasks
- Creating standards to ensure a process is performed in the best manner
More often than not, problems with a firm’s end-product arise from faulty underlying processes, not from the individuals doing the work. Companies that take the time to map their processes ensure that each process task adds value and is executed in the most rapid, cost-effective way.
Ultimately, process maps guarantee a swift, smooth process that is both efficient and effective. They also aid the firm and the customer in developing an understanding of the project results/deliverables. A standardized process will increase work pace, leave no odds and ends to ambiguity and make certain that all employees are on the same page.
Several process mapping tools can be found online. Most of these are easy to use and free of charge. My favorite is Gliffy Online (www.gliffy.com). If your company needs to examine or change its processes, process mapping is a great place to begin.