WHAT IS PROCESS MAPPING?
Business success is a many-faceted challenged. Budgeting, staffing, efficiency, effectiveness, profitability…all of these things and many more combine to create a truly successful business. One aspect of maximizing business performance that many doctors, dentists, and business owners overlook, however, is process mapping.
The importance of mapping out every system that your business employs on a regular basis cannot be emphasized enough. Here at High Speed Alliance headquarters, we recently enjoyed an intensive two days of coaching with Gary and Susan Harper of Sharper Business Solutions. During their time here, they educated us thoroughly on the fine art of process mapping, helped us get a few of our own processes down on paper, and enabled us to set goals around mapping all of our recurring processes in the coming months.
The entire mapping exercise really highlights the efficiency and duplicability that can exist within a business while simultaneously taking the stress out of every system. Furthermore, it creates a clarity and focus within the business that are unparalleled. When you’re able to take your systems, get them out of your head, and put them on paper, you’re creating a kind of clarity around the system that fosters an incredible peace of mind. That peace of mind in turn transcends the organization and hones the focus of employees, owners, and managers alike.
Uniting a team around mapped processes creates a laser focus as it occurs and enables the entire team to analyze existing processes with the intent of maximizing both efficiency and effectiveness. When these processes have been mapped, analyzed, and maximized, they can then be automated in a way that allows the team to concentrate much more directly upon the business itself instead of getting wrapped up in the minutiae of process completion.
When this kind of teamwork is in place, each team member and department can maintain their designated “swim lane” which allows for much clearer communication and much more effective department operation. When processes are mapped, each process begins and ends in a specified department.
For instance, Accounts Payable would begin in the Finance department. Any actions required on the part of the Operations department once a bill has been paid (for instance, sending a Thank You email or prompting a client to engage in a sponsorship campaign) would be triggered at the completion of a process within the finance department. This type of tangible delegation on a process map creates a step by step guide that allows numerous departments to communicate seamless and that facilitates simple, scheduled handoffs between departments when each step of a process is completed.
It’s clear, it’s documented, and it’s illustrated. The next department takes their actionable items and they do the things that they need to do before passing the baton back to the process map for the next step to be taken. The clarity that a business can put onto paper and the communication that results from this clarity is fantastic.
Process mapping has an incredible ability to improve absolutely any business. It doesn’t matter if that business is a dental practice, mapping out the new patient procedure, or a medical practice, mapping out treatment procedures or follow-up procedures. Even a real estate business can benefit from mapping out the wholesaling or the fix and flip process. It simply does not matter what business you’re in. If things are not mapped out then you’ve got a lot of opportunity for error and, in turn, a huge opportunity for improvement.
When businesses delve into the mapping process, it also allows them to identify that single point of failure that could mean an entire process is derailed. When we have a single point of failure in a process, then we have a lot of opportunity for defection, upset customers, lost business, lost revenue, and expense inflation. We have to allow our systems and processes to be mapped out in order to ensure that we’re not only running efficiently, but that we’re running in the most cost-effective manner possible as well.
This clarity will save you money across the board. There really isn’t any excuse not to do it. The reason that I often hear from businesses that don’t move forward with documenting their systems and processes is that, in the beginning, the workload of it all seems overwhelming. If you’re reading this blog and thinking to yourself,
“Where do I start? Do I document everything? Everything just seems so…. daunting!”
Don’t worry! There is a simple formula to help you hit the ground running. In the beginning, set a goal of documenting the 20 percent of your business that affects 80 percent of your profits. We call that mapping your core processes. Every business has between six and ten core processes.
You have a sales and marketing department that will probably have two to three processes that you want to document. Operations will have three to four and so will Finance. Add all of those together and you’ll have your six to ten core processes. The very first step to any process mapping endeavor is to identify those core processes.
One of the things that I love about process mapping for any small businesses is that a lot of these processes exist but they only exist inside the head of the CEO or the owner. Often times, that person who is in charge expects everybody else to know every single step. But if these processes aren’t written down, then there is a tremendous opportunity for wasted effort, miscommunication, and for the process as a whole to fail. When that happens, it is the customer and the business that suffer.
Another thing that I love about process mapping is the legacy that it creates. In order to have a legacy that your heirs can replicate and build upon, you’ve got to be able to let go a little. Mapping these processes out allows the owner to feel more confident in their team that things are being done the way they feel things should be done in the business, allowing elevation to begin to occur.
Ultimately, you have more efficiency, more satisfaction, and more happiness for the team. You also have better customer service, a better product overall from top to bottom, and ultimately more confidence that produces a better business all the way around. You are, in essence, creating extensions of yourself.
If you’re going to leave something behind after you’re gone, something that makes a difference and that is going to matter to generations yet to come, you have to have something that’s self-sustaining. By documenting these core processes, you are now building extensions of yourself that you can use to train further extensions carried out by supporting staff.
You can use those extensions to streamline your business, make it more effective, and ultimately hand it off or sell it. We call that way of thinking “letting go without losing control”. You’re still making sure that your processes and way of doing business are carried out in the way that you intend because those processes are the foundation of why you are successful.
They are the ideas that you had and that brought your business to the forefront. But because of that, now you have an ability to transfer those processes and ideas in a way that is sustainable and replicable. Ultimately, if you’re creating something for a legacy, you have a duty to make sure that these processes are documented and that those that you entrust with carrying on your legacy have a map with which to do so.
If you’re reading this blog, I hope you have gotten some value out of it. There’s a tremendous amount of software that’s available today to map your processes and to take the steps towards automating your business. There are lots of places where you can get training. I certainly recommend Gary and Susan Harper with Sharper Business Systems. If you want to know more about this, please give us a call. We hope to see you at our next meeting.