Every company has their own way of working, and are either implicit or explicit in documented processes. These processes are followed by almost anybody in the company. In order to find efficiencies in processes or during the interaction between them, it is important to map the processes. Make sure every process is included in the exercise.
It is always good to start mapping the processes at the highest level of processes in the company. Don’t go into much detail of every process, for now just note them down. Some great examples of high-level processes you can think of are, for example, sales, order handling, and project management. Also point out the support process on a high level like HR, IT, quality, compliance, etc. As a guide, you can just answer this simple question:
For every company this can be different, but there are some defined steps someone needs to take in order to become a paying customer. Having a clear overview is key, so create some kind of flowchart to put the process in logical order.
Which process does a person/company following to go from a prospect to a paid customer and what other non-core processes are there in the company?
Dive Right In
When the big picture is clear, it is time to zoom in on the individual processes. Sales can, for example, exist of prospecting and selling and maybe even marketing. It depends on where you draw the line. On the other hand, project management can be just managing the steps to produce the product or maybe also on the side to install/implement it. You draw your own line, but make sure you go one level deeper and check all the steps that are within a high-level process.
The points where one process goes into the next are critical points in your company. During the transition from one process to the next, communication is critical. In this part of the processes lots of improvements can be realized by many companies. We will touch upon this point in one of our next posts. For now, it is important to highlight these handover points in your processes to make sure everybody is aware of them.
A great way to have a feeling if people are working roughly according to the processes is auditing. The different ISO standards forces certified companies to audit their processes, but also for non-certified companies this would be a great practice. There are different kinds of auditing techniques, but the Brown Paper Audit is a great innovative approach. Next week we’ll look more at this technique.