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Process Mapping

Process mappers typically refer to current state (as-is) and future state (to-be) process maps. There is a frequent debate on the value of a current state map as a necessary foundation for a future state map. The argument concerning the elimination of a current state map often centers on the lack of a defined current state process or at least none that the group can agree on. At BEM, we strongly believe a current state process mapping session is essential to understanding the organization’s starting point for process change. Alternatively, when building our Perigon Playbook we have found it helpful to think in terms of three types of business processes: Current State Process, Near State Process, and Future State Process. A brief definition for each is shown here.


Current State Process

Let’s understand the good, the bad, and the ugly.

A Current State Process documents how the organization does business today. The challenge with current state mapping is that organizations often don’t know how they execute a process, or who is involved in the process as suppliers, users, and customers. This lack of understanding makes it even more essential to map the current process and for all process stakeholders to participate in multiple process mapping sessions. The process should be developed and refined (groomed) to deliver an accurate workflow depiction over several sessions.

Near State Process

Can we stop doing these dumb things?

A Near State Process defines what is attainable by the process within the limits of current technology. It is created by fully defining the Current State Process, capturing the many improvement opportunities identified by suppliers, users, and customers, and documenting the changed process with those improvements implemented. In our experience, a process team can expect to uncover 50 or more opportunities while defining a Current State Process. Of those opportunities, usually, about 50% are solvable within 90-days. By picking this “low hanging fruit,” a Near State Process can be designed that eliminates the many dumb and avoidable problems the organization has created for itself. A Near State Process can often deliver dramatic improvement over Current State without substantial investments of time or money.

Future State Process 

Oh, my!  Look at the possibilities!

The Future State Process is a vision of what the process might become were it to reach its full potential. It removes the barriers and constraints associated with the organization’s current technology and lays in assumptions that the most difficult process problems are removed or mitigated. In future state mapping, the process achieves its ultimate aim. The allure of the Future State Process can lead an organization to skip over the Near State Process and move directly toward a technology solution. We believe this is a mistake; many problems can be solved with a Near State Process and, even if not, a simplified Near State Process is more easily transitioned to Future State.

Don’t Overlook the Near State Process

By defining processes in three stages, we have found it is easier to guide process-mapping sessions while creating organization focus on specific goals bound by time and investment.   This works well in business units and allows for staged improvement in a way that delivers maximum ROI and benefit to the organization.

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