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Why do you need to map processes?

30th Aug 2022
Brought to you by
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Skore is the process improvement software that allows Accountants to map, analyse, improve and...
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Why should you bother to map processes? Process mapping is an incredibly powerful tool for understanding what’s happening in your practice, discover hidden costs and bottle necks and identify opportunities. 

Let’s start with the basics; we map processes to help understand how things work today, or to design how things should work in the future. A process map, or flow chart, provides a visual representation of a set of activities and outcomes.

Processes documented in text are very difficult to read. A visual process map makes them easy to read. It’s especially useful where a process has multiple pathways, where different things happen in parallel, or different events can trigger different sets of activities.

Typically we map processes for the following reasons:

  • Systems implementation
  • Standardisation
  • Compliance
  • Continuous Improvement

A good process will show the key activities, the outcomes and the roles that are responsible for those activities. 

So what should you be looking out for when you map a process? It breaks down into three things:

  • Alignment
  • Opportunity
  • Constraints

Understanding each of these will ensure you get the most out of any process mapping exercise in the future.

ALIGNMENT

For processes to run smoothly, everyone involved must be aligned. In other words, they need to agree how it works. Mapping out the process, in a workshop, shows us whether this is indeed the case. Its important to get everyone involved and sign off on the final process plan. 

The process map ensures that everyone is talking the same language early on and has the same understanding. If they comprehend the problems they currently face and can describe them it will be much easier to discover future benefits to fixing them.

OPPORTUNITY

Looking at any process is a chance to improve it. It could be reducing cost, removing unnecessary steps, simplifying, reducing risk, speeding it up or any number of other things. When subject matter experts get together to map out a process, and create that common language, it is much easier to talk about improvements.

Therefore the team needs to ask itself what the opportunities for improvement are. These could be general, such as simply removing unnecessary steps from the process. Or they could be more focused on something specific like automating the process or at least some of the steps of it. 

CONSTRAINTS

Whatever change you intend to make must be made within the constraints of the practice. Some constraints will be more obvious than others, for example, time, budget and resources. It is process mapping, and the discussion around your processes, that helps to reveal the hidden constraints that could trip up any initiatives that you have planned. 

SUMMARY

Process mapping, and process discovery, are the key enablers to planned improvements you may have, whether implementing standard ways of working or completely transforming how things get done. Process mapping ensures that you get alignment in your team, identify the opportunities for improvement and understand the constraints that could prevent you from achieving the desired outcome. 

If you'd like to learn more about how to map your processes you can take a look at our Accountancy Process Template which will walk you through how to get started.