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In late 2023, we published our Business Operating System Guide (available on our handbooks page) to help our clients align operations, administration, and sales to optimize value creation. One of the key outputs of a Business Operating System is mapping a company’s processes across all business functions.  

While the documentation process seems tedious, process mapping provides several benefits that can launch continuous process improvement. Continuous process improvement enables managers to prioritize the most critical issues and develop solutions to eliminate or reduce waste, improve quality, speed up delivery, and enhance customer satisfaction.  

Based on our experience with our clients, we find that mapping business processes has several positive impacts that can be considered change enablers as a part of continuous process improvement:  

How Process Mapping Enables Change 

Draws attention to inefficiencies – It’s easy for a manager to brush off an inefficient process, but when it shows up in a document, it almost becomes an embarrassment. Bad processes stick out like a sore thumb. It’s one thing to know a complicated process exists, but seeing it mapped out often makes all the difference. The motivation to address the issue becomes a priority. For example, a procurement director was aware that the process of approving purchase orders at her company was a complicated process involving printing, signing, and scanning. She knew it was inefficient, but when she saw it mapped in a process flow diagram, she immediately pursued steps to streamline the process.  

Informs leadership – Process mapping gives leadership a better understanding of what hoops people must jump through to get things done. It often motivates leadership to give their people license and incentives to address inefficiencies. At one organization, an AP Manager was pressured by the CFO to reduce headcount in the AP department. The AP supervisor used process flow maps to illustrate to the CFO all the required steps for approving field invoices and made the case for expanding the use of purchasing cards for field purchases. Moving the field purchases to purchasing cards would save the company extra steps and time for processing payments. Seeing all that was required for field purchases, the CFO asked the AP Manager to spearhead efforts to move more field purchases to purchasing cards.  

Increases respect between departments – When one department learns of the work another must do to support them, it increases collaboration and understanding. One engineering team was constantly fighting for more resources to support increasing sales. At a staff meeting, the Engineering VP asked, “Why does accounting get to add more staff but we don’t?” The controller shared the lengthy process required to support control and audit requirements and replied, “We need to do this so we can stay listed on the stock exchange.” From that point on, the engineering team appreciated what accounting was doing to maintain regulatory compliance.  

Eliminates excessive requests – When one department learns of the work another must do to support them, they often back off on excess requests. This enables departments to eliminate unnecessary work and focus on value-add activities. At one organization, plant managers were requesting more and more reports from cost accounting to support operations. Whenever a plant manager requested a new report, cost accounting added it to their list of regular reports. When the cost accounting team eventually shared their process for creating the growing list of reports in Excel, the plant management team immediately did a full review of the reports and cut the list in half. This process mapping enabled the cost accounting team to focus on improving the accuracy of costs instead of creating reports.  

At Trenegy, we work closely with our clients to assist with setting up the right business operating system to make change happen. To learn more about how we can help your organization eliminate inefficiencies and improve performance, email us at info@trenegy.com. 

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