Process mapping for accountantsby
With the rise of outsourcing, being able to communicate processes to a globally dispersed workforce is becoming imperative for success and compliance.
Process mapping is the art of conveying a process as a story that anyone can understand by reading it, and assists in ensuring alignment to an organisation’s goals and strategy.
In more detail, process mapping refers to the activities involved in what a business entity does. It outlines who is responsible for completing the activities, alongside the standard a business process should be completed to and how the success of a business process can be determined.
Processes may be linked to previous or several previous processes and triggers, and one or many outputs may link to subsequent processes.
Process design also takes into account the following factors;
- systems capabilities
- user demand
In some industries, process maps are required to meet audit requirements.
Process mapping software
Process mapping software is easily accessible for accounting and bookkeeping practices, with the majority of software now being cloud-based. There are a number of free and paid products available, including Lucidchart, Miro, Promapp and Visio.
My personal favourite free apps are Miro and Lucidchart. Miro has a good online collaborative whiteboard, so you can do a lot more with it than just create process maps. The best part about Miro is that multiple people can be logged in and make edits, providing feedback in real-time without having to save and send for review.
An example of one of Miro’s flowchart templates:
From a paid software perspective, Promapp is a leading industry standard toolset used across a number of industries, which allows for continuous improvement of the detail and design using its feedback functionality.
The below is an example of a flowchart in Promapp. Promapp keeps the process structure flat and recommends only ten process steps (also known as activities) so that the process is not over complicated. It also does not recommend the use of decision boxes to make it easier to understand and read.
Fostering a culture of continuous improvement and the relevance to your firm
Given the rise of outsourcing, being able to communicate processes to a globally dispersed workforce is becoming imperative for success and compliance. Using process mapping software will assist in communicating these processes to offshore staff and ensure that they are trained in the processes the same way in which your local team are.
This will mean consistency for clients in how their work is completed and ensure that the firm is meeting the legislative requirements for lodgement.
Process maps can also be used to foster a culture of continuous improvement, which is imperative for achieving an organisation's goals and executing strategy. It is important to pick software that will enable you to foster continuous improvement.
Using software like Miro, Promapp or Lucidchart will enable you to provide your staff with the opportunity to provide live feedback and edit the process map easily. Something like Visio is more static and cannot be easily edited by multiple people.
When staff are reviewing process maps, it is important they identify areas of waste, which are steps in the process that are now redundant and to make suggestions if the steps do not make sense. If the steps do not make sense, it provides an opportunity to rethink how you are communicating your process, and if you need to change the way in which steps are worded to make them more easily understood.
Process maps will also help in identifying how productive your staff are when completing a process, and assist in the allocation of work. This will ensure that the workload is spread more evenly across your staff, and assist in mitigating the risks of staff burnout.
I recommend checking out the different software available and starting to explore what process mapping can do for your firm.