Business operations are based on many complex procedures. Every day, in each of them, there can be errors and shortcomings that are noticed too late, which ultimately leads to financial losses. Do you know how to detect irregularities early and avoid wasting resources? Take advantage of business process mapping. Read on to find out more.
Business process mapping – table of contents:
- What is business process mapping?
- Types of business process maps
- Business process mapping software
- The benefits of business process mapping
- The drawbacks of business process mapping
- Business process mapping in ecommerce
What is business process mapping?
Every process taking place in the company (product management, sales process etc.) can be broken down into specific activities that lead to achieving the set goal. Business process mapping is the visual display of what is going on in the company and who is responsible for each task.
It is a useful tool that allows you to look at the company from a broader perspective. Thanks to business process mapping, you are able to spot irregularities in the processes, eliminate or reduce their impact, increase productivity and lower costs. All these steps are key to making a profit.
Types of business process maps
To illustrate the course of each process, you can use some tools created for this purpose. We’ll list the ones that are most frequently used in practice below:
Certain flowchart symbols are used to create it, e.g., rectangles that represent any step in the process, arrows that indicate the direction of action, and diamonds that symbolize decisions required to move forward. Making such a chart is quite simple and lets you visualize several processes, e.g. sales and production.
Value stream map
It is similar to the basic flowchart described above, and is often used as part of lean management strategies. A value stream can be understood as all the activities undertaken by the company in its operational processes. Creating a value stream map, in turn, involves comparing the current state with the future state.
When analyzing the current state, pay particular attention to the time it takes to perform certain activities. The future state (the ideal state we should strive for) represents the time when the product should be ready and reach the customer to meet their needs. Emerging discrepancies between the current state and the future state are so-called bottlenecks, leading to a waste of resources and reduced productivity.
This is a slightly more elaborate version of the basic flowchart. Apart from describing individual activities within the process, it also delineates duties that particular departments or employees are responsible for. Thanks to it, it’s easier to see the connection between the parties participating in the process.
SIPOC stands for Supplier, Inputs, Processes, Outputs, Customers. It draws attention to the selected stakeholders involved in the company’s processes and the activities resulting from those processes.
Business process mapping software
There are several BPM tools on the market that significantly facilitate business management. As some of the more popular ones, we can mention Kiss Flow, Nintex, Zoho Wizard and many others. Depending on your needs, you can look for the best software for you.
The benefits of business process mapping
Developing a business process map requires some time and effort. However, it is an investment whose results you will see in the progress of your business. What are the benefits of using business process mapping?
Looking at your business from a broader perspective
Illustrating individual processes allows you to look at them objectively, which will help you make strategic decisions and improve processes.
Identifying bottlenecks that reduce process efficiency is the first step to removing or reducing their negative impact.
Effective risk management
Analyzing your business processes helps you detect irregularities before major financial losses and legal violations occur.
Defining team roles and responsibilities
With business process mapping, it is easier to assign responsibilities to individuals, which is also important to keep processes running smoothly.
Developing and applying best practices
The technique in question is a good opportunity to learn from your own mistakes, to constantly improve and to define a behavioral pattern that will contribute to the company’s success.
The drawbacks of business process mapping
Information about the progress of work usually comes from those who know the process best – the employees. However, their opinions are still subjective and will not adequately depict the real situation or may be based on their attitudes (dissatisfaction, frustration, etc.).
It takes a lot of precision
No standards for data collection mechanisms makes the obtained results less reliable. Drawing up a map that will accurately represent the actual state of the enterprise requires patience and discipline. Moreover, delving into some components of the process can seem overly complicated, leading to overinterpretation and confusion.
Business process mapping in ecommerce
Business process mapping can be used in several industries. Below, we will show its application in ecommerce with the help of the basic flowchart and SIPOC.
Define the purpose of creating the map
It may relate to the process that is inefficient in some way.
Highlight important steps
Determine the beginning and end of a given process, e.g., Searching for products in the e-store (the beginning of the sales process) and Sending the order to the customer (the end of the sales process). Then, highlight the remaining sequence of activities necessary to complete the flow. Represent them using one of the previously mentioned types of business process maps.
Consult with others
Present the prepared chart to your team and discuss the points that need improvement.
Identify the areas that need to be optimized. You can use lean management strategies to do so. Looking at the drawn up maps, let’s think at which stages of the process bottlenecks can occur. These may include:
- Delays in processing data when placing orders.
- Delays in completing payments.
- At the stage of data entry and order completion (which are performed by employees), there is a risk of mistakes and delays.
- Not adapting the platform to mobile devices – most people use their phones to shop. If your website doesn’t work properly, potential customers will give up your services.
- A complicated ordering process – the fewer subpages or clicks required to make a purchase, the better.
- Not many payment and delivery methods – it’s worth being flexible and offering various options for making a purchase, e.g. payment in installments or deferred payment, delivery to a designated address, parcel machines, pick-up points and abroad.
- Poor customer communication – don’t forget about your customer after the sale is over. People who already have a (positive) experience with a store are more likely to buy again, but it’s worth reminding them of your presence. You can send them automatically generated emails with updates, promotions, as well as ask them to rate the quality of customer service and satisfaction with the transaction.
Using business process mapping can be an important element in improving the management of specific projects not only in the ecommerce industry, but also in most other business sectors. Illustrating the internal as well as the external course of certain activities can prove to be extremely necessary. In particular, it is worth looking at the timing and quality of the processes, possible risks, employee involvement and external parties.