Whenever I start engaging with a prospect or a customer (pre-sales effort or project delivery that it may be) the first thing I always do is try to discover the process and map it in a visual manner.
The initial draft is almost always on paper (flipcharts) or on a whiteboard. I then take pictures for electronic transformation at a later stage. For this step in the past, I most frequently used Microsoft Visio®, but depending on clients and situations I’ve also used some pretty basic but open source tools, like Dia® . More recently I’ve started using online flowchart editors like Draw.io.
But why am I so keen on process design, mapping, and management?
The point is that when you analyse a situation, a company, a requirement, or an architecture option, you first need to understand the mechanics of the processes behind each and all of them.
The process analysis will:
- give you clarity,
- put everyone literally on the same page
- come in handy in the future, multiple times.
When you have to jot down or put in electronic format a process you go through a trial and error conversation with the parties involved. This goes on, or it should, until everyone is clear on what the process does and what it’s supposed to be doing. The result is a high level of clarity and an exchange of terms that will make up the glossary for future conversations.
One page process flowchart
A great way for everyone to be on the same page is to literally try to condensate the main processes into a single flowchart. The standard used is not particularly relevant, as long as everyone understands the scope and meaning of it.
In the example above, a manufacturing company needed to connect 2 different systems. This meant also identifying the most convenient point of contacts, and the best mode of interfacing the 2 systems.
If this is not enough of a reason already, look at the last point…
When you do a great job of mapping the processes, “AS IS” and “TO BE”, as they are normally called, you obtain multiple results:
- the “AS IS” process can be used in preparation for a software selection, you will be able to tell exactly what you do and how. The vendors will also be able to tailor better responses and quotations;
- the “AS IS” process is the starting point whenever you kick-off an implementation project, you will use the “AS IS” to understand if all requirements are covered by the “TO BE” processes. This generates the so-called “gap analysis”.
- after the project is closed you can use the “TO BE” processes as documentation for ISO certifications, or internal audits, or to analyse the SOD (Separation Of Duties) and how it’s been implemented;
- your “TO BE” processes, if well maintained and updated by the relevant “Business Process Owner”, will be the map to how the company works and it will come in handy again for training purposes and onboarding of new employees.
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