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5 tips for Process Mapping in your Practice

19th Apr 2022
Brought to you by
Skore is the process improvement software that allows Accountants to map, analyse, improve and...
Share this content

With the growing importance of workflow management in running a successful practice it’s essential to have a clear picture of your processes. Your processes describe the work your practice does to deliver services to your clients. With any sort of app or system you use to improve the efficiency of your work, you need to be clear about what needs to happen, when and by who.

If you don’t already have your processes documented as a visual workflow then you’re going to need to start process mapping. Here are 5 tips to make your first steps in workflow a success.

Don’t over complicate it

Whether you’re new to process mapping or not, one of the biggest problems with any workflow process diagram is that they are too complicated for people to understand. In fact, people often create a process chart and then when they look at it weeks later, they can’t understand it themselves!

Keep it simple stupid (KISS) is the mantra you should live by when process mapping. What do you need to know? You need to know what happens, who does it, when does it happen and, last but not least, what do you have at the end of doing it (the output).

To create your flow chart start by being clear about which process you need to map, where it starts and where it finishes. Once you’ve agreed that you need boxes that describe what happens and lines that show you the order each step happens.

Under each box you put who does it, the inputs tell you when it happens and the outputs tell you what you have at the end of each step. And that’s it, you don’t need much more than that. And once you’ve mapped your process you can then mark it up with any problems or improvements you want to make.

Pro tip. The output of each step in your process should add some value to the customer or to your own business. If you struggle to come up with an output, perhaps you no longer need the activity and could save yourself some time!

Get people involved

Process mapping is best done collaboratively, unless you’re a one person business. Everyone involved in the process will have a slightly different view about how it works. Process mapping is a brilliant way to get people to discuss the process and share the tips and tricks they have for making it work better.

Just having people talk about the process will throw up all sorts of improvements, many of which can be fixed straight away without even looking at a new app or software. It’s also a chance for people to share what they find difficult and can feel like a great therapy session.

Also remember that not everyone will be available to join in at the same time. So think about how you will share the process afterward and how you will collect any feedback that people have. Using a software platform designed for this purpose can really help people feel involved even if they couldn’t make the meeting.

Ultimately, creating the process map together means everyone involved will be on the same page as to how it should work. This reduces misunderstandings and improves trust and communications among colleagues. 

Be clear about the goal

While mapping a process for the sake of creating a clear description is undoubtedly valuable, it’s worth being clear about why you’re mapping it now. This is especially true if you’re doing it collaboratively.

You’re asking people to take time out of their work to talk about their work. So give them a clear reason why. Process mapping is an incredibly powerful diagnostic tool for business so explain what problem or opportunity you’re looking to solve.

Common uses of process mapping include:

  • Planning for a new app or system to be implemented
  • Finding and eliminating inefficiencies
  • Standardising ways of working
  • Finding the root cause of a specific problem
  • Improving the client experience
  • Calculating the cost of specific services

Don’t create something you end up throwing away

Mapping a process, no matter how valuable the findings, will take valuable time. What’s more, your work changes all the time so the process you map today will quickly go out of date. One of the biggest wastes is when processes are mapped and then left to gather dust.

The next time you need to perform some diagnostics on your work you’re likely to find that process long out of date and you have to start the exercise all over again. Once you’ve mapped a process, set a reminder to review it every few months. It only takes a few minutes and ensures it stays up to date and you’re likely to spot issues in the process before they become problems.

Finally, keeping your processes up to date means you have a ready made user manual for how your practice works. This is invaluable when new people join and they can be onboarded quickly, simply by following the processes.

Remember it’s a means to an end

Process mapping can become addictive! Seriously, once you start uncovering hidden problems and inefficiencies it’s easy to get carried away and start process mapping everything. While it’s not bad thing to have all your processes mapped it should be planned carefully so as not to disrupt business as usual.

Once you’ve had the first few successes look at the initiative that are going on in the business. Are there new or existing projects, or even client projects that would benefit from streamlining or improving. Align your process mapping efforts with these so that you share the main goal and you’re simply helping to get there faster.

Process mapping for the sake of it can quickly turn people off if there’s no clear benefit. So whenever you’re doing it, be clear about the goal and communicate it clearly to everyone involved.

Getting started

The tips here should be enough to get started with a pen and paper but to really get value from this exercise it’s worth considering tools that have been specially designed for this purpose. It will save you a lot of time and make your life a lot easier.

At Skore we’ve been mapping and improving processes for over 20 years. Our software is designed to make it super simple while taking advantage of having processes that are easy to share and update. Why not talk to one of our experts to see if Skore is a good fit for your practice today?