Process Mapping: Your Guide to Project Success
If you’ve ever wondered what process mapping is, and whether you need it, let me help. It’s an essential part of DSS’ project management toolkit and something my eight years of experience as a project manager have taught me to rely on.
At its simplest, a process map is a workflow diagram that represents a procedure. DSS team members use process mapping to develop an understanding of a project from beginning to end and to see the contribution they make to a common goal. These ‘maps’ are where we go to identify dependencies, parallel tasks, constraints and requirements. We also use them to improve lead times, apply controls, and to rearrange or re-assign tasks.
Process mapping can nip in the bud the ambiguities and confusions that can arise in cross-functional projects involving distributed teams. If you have a new process that needs to be widely understood, or an existing process that can be improved, it’s worth considering in your business.
Key Ingredients of Process Mapping
First, a warning. Process mapping can be tedious and it’s not unusual for first-timers to find themselves all over the place. To minimise this risk, the DSS team does the groundwork:
- Process. Documented or not, this involves the scope and steps of the process that you want to map. Scope is important to prevent an extensive and complicated output.
- Team. Identify the action owners, sources and approvers
- Process owner. Identify the specific point of contact throughout the process. The process owner will be your guide as you do the mapping and will validate your output.
Creating a Process Map
With those prerequisites at hand, we move on to creating the map:
- Meet the process owner. Here we set the process scope, expectations, and timeline. This is also a chance to talk one–on–one with the process owner about the background, any heads–up, and challenges in the process and the team.
- Meet the team. This stage is critical. Get everyone in a room and aim to capture as much information as possible. This is where you understand the process steps, any dependencies, action owners, and approvers. Whiteboards and sticky notes are handy as you draw, rub out, edit, line up, and scrap components.
For virtual teams, there are online brainstorming tools such as https://miro.com/ that you can use.
When meeting / interviewing the team, you want to understand the following:
- What is to be achieved?
- How is it to be achieved?
- When is it to be achieved?
- Where it is achieved?
- Who achieves it?
- Start drafting your process map. Based on the information derived from your team meeting, you can now start mapping. Draft by sketching or using online tools – you choose.There are a lot of tools like Microsoft Visio, and free software like Lucid Chart, yED, and Draw.io.
- Refine with the process owner. With your draft completed, ask the process owner to review it. This is where you can clarify ambiguities and validate your understanding of the process. Then revise and confirm the finished map.
- Submit your process map to the manager of the executing team for approval.
Process Mapping with DSS
Sample process map
Process mapping supports many of the solutions Direct Sourcing Solutions provides. Every project involves a discussion with the client about their processes; visualising and analysing those processes helps us identify opportunities for streamlining the client’s business at lower cost. Want to know more? Contact us today!
Melodie Oquias is a DSS project manager.