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How To Make Sense Of Organizational Workflow Structures

Business Enterprise Mapping is in the business of defining, aligning and improving the organizational workflow of all sizes, shapes, and types. We have spent nearly 25 years refining our approach and find many similarities in the organizational workflow structures of our clients. It is remarkable how repeatable workflow and process structures can be within business systems across otherwise very different industries.


Organizational Workflow: So why should we care?

We should care because organizational workflow is effectively a large puzzle of maybe 4000 pieces, where each piece represents a task. For most businesses, these 4000 pieces are jumbled high into departmental piles, lacking connectivity, continuity, and alignment. These artificially created organizational silos cause dropped balls, missed handoffs and disrupted workflows, while performance suffers.


How can we reorganize the puzzle according to a logical work structure that improves business performance?


At BEM, we align the work structure of every organization according to Business Systems, Business Processes, and Tasks.


Business System

A Business System consists of a collection of business processes that align to deliver the goals of the system.   From experience, we know there are 12 Business Systems is any organization. These include the Enterprise Management System, Finance, Human Resources, Equipment Management, Facilities Management, Information Technology, Product Development, Operations, Supplier Management, Customer Service, and the Improvement Management System.

In our puzzle, Business Systems would be organized into 12 sections, with each system a different color.


Business Process

A Business Process consists of a series of tasks that consumes a product or service (the input) from a supplier, adds value to that product or service through some transformation (the process), and then delivers a product or service of more value (output) to a customer. All business transactions take place through business processes that connect in a series to form Business Systems. We typically find somewhere between 8-16 business processes per Business System.


In our puzzle, Business Processes would be organized by letter within each Business System. For example, the letters A – P could be used to represent the 8-16 Business Processes typically found within a Business System.



And finally, a Task is a piece of work to be accomplished. Multiple Tasks flow to create Business Processes. While Task count varies widely, we typically see about 20 – 40 Tasks per Business Process.


In our puzzle, Tasks would be the differently shaped pieces that uniquely connect to form a Business Process.


Of course, the organization puzzle for smaller companies will have fewer pieces, while larger public and private companies will have more. The work management challenge is to take these puzzle pieces and organize them into logical business systems, business processes, and tasks. This construction is foundational to every organization, essential to gaining control of the work itself, and the necessary first step towards defining, improving, measuring and aligning work to drive sustainable performance improvement.


So the organizational workflow question to ask is this….

 Does your organizational workflow look like a bunch of jumbled pieces sitting in piles in departments or an aligned and well-organized structure based upon the organization’s workflow?

Continue Reading: A Better Way to Define Work in Your Organization 


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