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Business Process Mapping Part 1: Scoping Exercise

Have you noticed inefficiencies in your business processes? Do things take longer than they should, consume excessive staff time or result in below-par customer satisfaction?

If your organisation is ready to become ultra-efficient, paving the way for success and growth, it’s time to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. 

Why? Because process improvement very rarely starts from the point where you notice a failure.  To look into your processes, we first need to identify and name them. This may seem basic, but all elements of a business are usually so intertwined that it’s difficult to see where one process ends and the next begins. That’s where a scoping exercise comes in. 

In this post, we take an in-depth look at identifying and defining processes. We will also touch on next steps once your scoping studies are complete. 

What is Business Process Mapping?

This is the first in a series of articles compiled by JNBA consultancy to explain business process mapping in detail. So before we dive in, it’s important to understand the holistic model of business process mapping. A basic definition is: 

Creation of a visual display (map) of the steps taken within the business process of an organisation. Producing a clear map provides stakeholders with a concise picture of actions taken to provide a product or service. It should include every step from conception to customer satisfaction and each step sequentially. 

Business process mapping example of a map completed after the scoping exercise made up of boxes in three colours with text on relating to the booking in deliveries process
Section of a business process map related to the booking in deliveries process

Whilst we describe the process of mapping, the visual depiction is usually in the form of a flow-chart. This will include symbols to depict common elements of the process such as input, output, data, start and stop. 

With the help of a key, anybody within an organisation should be able to look at a process map and understand the steps required to produce the product or service from start to finish. 

The scoping study that we are looking at today is the first step in the mapping process. 

Scoping Exercise Step 1: Process Identification

Much of the educational literature around process mapping will start with identification of the processes that are crucial to achieving your business goals. The problem with this is that in the vast majority of large organisations, those processes won't be properly defined. 

Instead, you are likely to come across a series of intertwined procedures with no point at which one starts and the next one ends. It would be impossible to define the impact of any activity without separating it from the previous and next steps, naming it and acknowledging it in isolation. 

Once this is established, each relevant process can be aligned with your organisational goals and objectives using defined criteria, such as: 

- customer satisfaction 

- complexity

- frequency

- risk 

- impact

We may also group processes into categories before defining their scope.

Scoping Exercise Step 2: Defining Processes

Now we have clearly identified them, we need to define the scope of each individual process or group thereof. This allows us to properly detail their inputs and outputs, boundaries and internal and external stakeholders. 

When you know the scope of an individual process, you will be able to properly focus on its relevant aspects and avoid getting distracted by unimportant or unnecessary details. 

Additionally, identifying stakeholders prepares us for the next step - process mapping. 

Next Steps

Working extremely closely with the stakeholders they have identified, a JNBA business process consultant will create process maps at the right level of detail, in an easy to read visual diagram. The first element of mapping we need to focus on is a full, systematic review. This will be conducted using interviews, workshops and observations of the key stakeholders, allowing the consultant to fully understand the process. 

All staff interaction will be conducted in a comfortable environment in which the consultant will establish a relaxed working environment, allowing all staff to feel confident and valued. This empowers individuals to honestly raise any issues, allowing us to highlight pain points. Relevant statistics and data will also be used to enhance understanding, shine a light on improvement activities and predict future performance. 

Once they fully understand every element of the process, the consultant will create your easy-to-read visual diagram. This is a first draft that users can review and tweak until all parties are happy that it is a true reflection. 

The consultant will listen to the voice of the customer, voice of the process and voice of the business in order to help you to align all three. We will look in more depth at process mapping in the next post in this series. 

In addition to standard Business Process Modelling and Mapping, here at JNBA Consultancy we incorporate Lean Six Sigma practices into our work. This is proven to powerfully improve processes and produce optimum quality control by removing waste, reducing variation and maximising efficiency. 

A Word about KPIs

Before working with a business process consultant, it is important to have a clear set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in place. The consultant can work through this with you if required. Properly defining and documenting your KPIs will allow you to quantitatively and qualitatively measure the success of the project. KPIs may include: 

- Cost savings

- Waste reduction

- Defect reduction

- Cycle time reduction

- Process variation reduction

- Customer satisfaction

- Employee engagement

These should be regularly reviewed and a consultant can help you to make data-driven decisions to further optimise processes and drive sustainable improvements.

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