Process Mapping in the Public Sector
Anne H. Barry, MPA, Certified Perigon Practitioner
The public sector is distinct from the private sector in many ways. The purpose of public organizations is to serve the population responsibly and ethically with minimal cost to the taxpayer. Although enterprise funds exist in many areas of government, profitability is not usually the driving force in the provision of public services. The government aims to meet the needs of its citizens and care for the community so that it may be improved upon for the enjoyment and safety of future generations.
Blurring the Lines
Government organizations are multi-tiered and complex. Department and division lines are drawn to divide human services, public works, health, safety, technology, human resources, purchasing, and contracting; among others. Many of these departments must connect, however, through processes. The dividing lines blur as departments receive inputs from other government branches and produce outputs and products that are delivered to both internal and external customers. This means that processes organized in a silo model will be unsuccessful.
A process map must be developed that crosses internal and external boundaries, accounts for inputs, outputs, and delivery methods; and addresses opportunities for streamlining processes to increase the value experienced by the beneficiary public. These maps are then maintained and continually improved upon, and documented for auditing, training, and reporting purposes.
Process Mapping in the Public Sector Yields a Brighter Future
Rapidly changing technology and a culture of innovation have made process improvement in the public sector even more urgent. New software options facilitate data management and performance measurement, transforming the way business is done in public organizations. The potential for transparency as this information is shared will increase the accountability of elected officials and the organizations for which they are responsible.
New technology must be integrated, however, at every level in order to ensure cost containment, effectiveness, and efficiency. Process mapping and process improvement will be crucial first steps for integrating software and achieving automation in public sector organizations. The future for public organizations is bright, start mapping your processes today to maximize public value!