A review of organizational design can be broken down (arguably) into about ten primary characteristics; strategy, structure, process, people, systems, facilities, knowledge, intellectual property, equipment, and technology. Of these characteristics, one of the least studied, understood and developed is process. Process simply represents the way the organization executes work. Most organizations do not make it a priority to spend time, resources, and effort on understanding and improving the work itself. Why is this? Because generally work has been designed incrementally and often without great thoughtfulness as to purpose, alignment, and connectivity, making it unnecessarily complex, messy and difficult to accurately express. Frankly, just the thought of understanding how work gets accomplished gives most leaders an enormous headache. Because of this, organization performance often suffers from the lack of process maturity.
Below are ten reasons why you should map workflow throughout your entire organization to address the shortfall.. These reasons reach beyond the typical ROI calculation to provide the foundational argument for sustainable organizational excellence.
Good reasons to map your organization.
1. To learn how the business model really works.
The workflow of an organization can be compared to the flow of electricity illustrated by an electrical diagram. It is based on a structured hierarchy, beginning with the 1) enterprise, 2) business systems, 3) business processes, and 4) tasks. How work actually gets done is usually different than what leaders and managers believe to be true. Mapping the business builds a process of self-discovery that is hard, thoughtful, exhausting and sometimes even contentious. Among many other things, mapping surfaces redundancies and answers that often puzzling question, why do different employees do the same things so differently?
2. To understand what creates value.
Customer-supplier relationships are defined throughout the organization with business mapping. These relationships lead to an assessment process that identifies what each customer wants, what each business process provides, and where the gaps exist. This customer value assessment applies equally to external customers of the organization, along with internal organization customers. Through this exercise, leadership gains a clear understanding of what makes the organization special, as well as where the organization is operating at a competitive disadvantage.
3. To focus on what’s important.
By understanding the work taking place within the organization, leadership can identify the business processes driving the organization’s value proposition. This knowledge can create leadership focus on the primary processes creating the most improvement leverage, where additional efforts and resources create greater payback. Like anything else, the 80/20 rule also applies to business processes and workflows.
4. To determine what should be measured.
In general, most organizations measure what’s easy versus what’s important. By mapping the entire organization, leadership is able to define from the top-down what is most important to organization success and therefore what is most important to measure to drive the desired outcomes. Just imagine what would happen if KPI’s actually measured what’s most important in your organization.
5. To find the gaps between organization structure and workflow.
We rarely find organizational charts that intentionally match manager responsibilities to workflow. Instead, they are typically set up by giving the perceived “best managers” the most responsibilities. By mapping the organization, leadership is able to evaluate its management structure relative to the primary business processes that deliver value for customers. In addition, organization silos - and the many dropped balls that come from workflow disconnects - become painfully obvious through business mapping.
6. To learn what works and what doesn’t.
Important organizational learning comes from business mapping, such as understanding why product or service costs differ, how resources are utilized to execute a process, the level of overall effectiveness and efficiency in a department, and the number of approvals required to produce a product or service. A business map creates the foundation for a host of new discoveries.
7. To create organizational transparency.
There’s no better tool for creating organizational transparency than business mapping. A business mapping effort typically generates a substantial number of Red Clouds, which represent the problems and opportunities identified within the workflow of the organization. In our experience, we typically find about 50 Red Clouds per business process mapped. In addition, mapping a business system delivers a user-friendly and understandable way to measure and monitor workflow performance.
8. To create a valuable asset that increases the entity’s worth.
By mapping the organization, leadership captures at least two sets of intellectual property that increase the overall value of the entity. One, business mapping creates organizational self-awareness that provides a very valuable framework for ongoing education and problem-solving. In this way, the organization is no longer held hostage by a culture of closely held subject matter expertise and individual job knowledge. In addition, business mapping captures the organization’s intellectual property and places that knowledge in the location and application that best meets the needs of the organization.
9. To discover what is possible.
To build a clear picture of where you want to go, it certainly helps to know where you are. Business mapping provides a very clear framework for understanding the organization’s current capabilities and possibilities.
10. To align strategy with execution.
In our meetings with senior leadership, they frequently express frustration at their organization’s lack of capability to execute to strategic intentions. By mapping the organization, a very clear picture emerges of its execution capability, strengths and weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement.
There are many more good reasons to map your organization.
We have listed here ten good reasons to map the entire organization. We are sure there are many more that can be added to this list. We strongly believe workflow management is underdeveloped in most organizations and, by beginning with business mapping, leadership can substantially and sustainably improve organization performance by proactively managing the effectiveness and efficiency of work.
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