At BEM, our mission is to map organization workflows better, faster and cheaper. For 25 years, we have pursued this mission by developing our own Perigon Method, which is the best business mapping methodology available today. Along the way, we have learned a thing or two about business process and how to implement business mapping for maximum results. Shown here are ten of our many lessons learned.
Ten Lessons Learned From Business Mapping
1. Most business processes are broken.
We know from client data that about 72% of all business processes are broken. We generally find they are undefined, too complex and loaded with excess reviews and approvals.
2. A good process makes it easy to do the right thing.
We are often asked how companies reconcile the pursuit of strong business processes alongside the need to allow star performers to shine. It is really very simple. A good process facilitates good performance by making it easy to do the right thing. And star performers won’t overcome bad business processes in the long run.
3. Cause and effect are rarely found in the same place.
When studying workflow, organizations typically study single business processes in isolation, without consideration of the larger business system that contains that process. We have found this approach to be largely unfulfilling, as the source of most process problems lays either upstream or downstream from the process where they are found.
4. Strategy without process is like a head without the body.
Executives often tell us they are happy with their strategy but unhappy with their execution. This dissatisfaction comes from disconnected strategic intention and operational capability. Strategy gets executed through capable and aligned business processes.
5. Behind every unhappy customer lays a broken process.
Customers are served through a series of internal business processes that connect to deliver solutions that meets their needs. The key to external customer satisfaction is the alignment and satisfaction of internal customers along the value creation stream. When a customer experiences a problem, inevitably a breakdown has occurred within that internal business process stream.
6. Process should define structure.
We find a wide variety of logic used to define organization structures. Often these structures are organized around the perceived strength of management team members, where stronger players are given the most responsibilities. Through this structure, leaders formulate plans that are implemented down through the ranks. Often missing in this approach is business process connectivity; workflows across organization boundaries from department-to-department and function-to-function. Tasks combine to create a process; processes link to form business systems, and business systems connect to form the enterprise.
When the organization structure is out of sync with workflow, problems are buried deep within organization silos. Alternatively, designing the organization structure to mirror process structure aligns responsibilities directly with work facilitating more efficient and effective execution.
7. Those who do the work should define and improve the work.
Finding out what’s wrong with an organization isn’t that difficult. Just ask those who do the work what prevents them from achieving excellence in their work. We generally find the subject matter experts right on the front lines.
8. Improvement without control is wasted effort.
Improvement begins with control. Every business process in every organization should have basic control elements in place: ownership, process definition, a product or service, a customer specification, measurement, and feedback.
9. Understanding today delivers better designs for tomorrow.
Most business processes grow up through trial and error changes implemented over time, much like a house that has seen many remodels and additions. Because of this, when leaders decide to redesign a process with a specific intention, they often believe that understanding the current state process is unnecessary. We have found this to be a mistake because the process that exists today has been designed to solve specific problems. Better understanding those problems first is key to an effective future state design.
10. Organizations invest in assets while starving business processes.
This is the underlying cause of most business process deficiencies. Organizations typically make substantial investments in facilities, information technology, people, knowledge, and equipment to provide the infrastructure necessary for success. These assets enable the production of products and services that deliver customer value. It is rare, however, to see an organization make a comparable investment in business processes. Because of process weaknesses, investments in other assets are less productive while enterprise performance suffers. Strong business processes provide the engine that powers enterprise performance.
Dramatic improvements can be obtained from business mapping by solving problems through business process structure. By moving to workflow-based business systems and business processes, an organization can create a workplace transparency and customer focused accountability that opens up powerful opportunities previously hidden. Business mapping improves the customer experience, rapidly increases solutions implementation and improves enterprise performance.
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