Future-proofing your process maps

Walter Tran
Chief Operating Officer

LinkedIn Profile

If you’re familiar with process mapping, then you’ll know that one of the biggest pain points is keeping them current. Businesses are always changing, from the back-end processes to the way we engage with our clients. So, how do we take the burden out of updating process maps? Here are some tips and tricks. 

1. Use 'Task Role' names where possible
Job titles are prone to change in evolving work landscapes. You may come across job titles that didn’t exist 10 or even 5 years ago. So, this means, if you avoid using specific job titles when process mapping, then there is no need to update the job title if it changes. Some examples of a Task Role are ‘Timesheet Approver’ and ‘Incident Reporter.’ An effortless way to identify this is by looking at the process steps and derive the noun and verb required to produce the name of the Task Role. 

2. Match process step names with outcomes
One of the traps when process mapping is entering too much detail and going too micro. Not only does this mean more work up front, but if the detail of one of these steps changes, the process map may be in for a larger than required overhaul. To avoid this from happening, having a process step named ‘Record Incident’ is preferred over three steps named ‘Record Incident Date’, ‘Record Incident Details’ and ‘Record Incident Location.’ 

3. Avoid mapping out all process permutations

In practice, some processes can have many variances. Attempting to reflect all the permutations in this case can turn a somewhat uncomplicated process into a quagmire of decision points. Not only does this make it harder to consume, but it also makes it harder to update. To avoid this, you could apply the Pareto principle (20% of the variations make up for 80% of the volume) and avoid trying to document every permutation and just focus on the main ones. 

4. Have a program to review and update
Like how a car that is maintained on a regular basis performs better than one that is neglected, a process that is regularly reviewed and updated will reduce the overall effort when change is required. If you do not have a system to help you automate this, having the ‘review date’ and the ‘next review date’ recorded against the process is a good start. 

5. Tell people that you have captured the process map
What is worse than having an out-of-date process map? Having a process map that no one knows about or cannot find. It might be obvious, but this is how duplication and contradiction come about. When you have mapped a process and it’s approved, share it. This will help transition it to the business and increase the likelihood of it being maintained. 

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