Why do we map processes?

Why do companies around the world put time and effort in to process mapping? And is this work being done for the right cause? I believe there are two main reasons for a process discovery initiative.

Process mapping for a reason

First and foremost there are legislation, certifications like ISO and FDA-regulations that force companies to act.

Second, some companies are process aware and understand that everything in a business spells P-R-O-C-E-S-S. Therefore you need to control your process in order to control your business, and furthermore to work with continuous improvement.

In the first case, when the process discovery initiative has been pushed down by the management, the commitment from the employees is often low. Processes are often believed as something they “have to do” but very few understand why and for what reason. It is just another work task to be done without getting extra time and salary. And does it really increase the customer experience? They don’t know, they have just been instructed to map processes, follow new routines and do even more documentation (bureaucracy).

In the second case, the company understands that the underlying idea behind ISO etc. is to maintain high quality and corporate performance through standardisation. It wasn’t meant to be a burden! Process orientation is the answer to quality management, but also to popular buzzwords such as Kaizen, 6-Sigma, PDCA, Lean and Organisation Learning.

By adapting processes deeply into your organisation you can acquire wonderful results. Just look at Google, Apple and Virigin!

What is your opinion? Why do you map processes?

Best regards,
Fredrik Selander
Sales Representative

3 thoughts on “Why do we map processes?

  1. To me, It seems you are mixing up “mapping” and “managing” processes. But I might be wrong because I didn’t understand the English very well.

    Not mapping, but Executing and Managing by (so, not a) process is your final goal if you want to become a process oriented organisation.

    If I want to become more process oriented at first I wouldn’t even think about mapping any process. My first question would be “What processes do we have” and “Do we really need them”. So this is about process discovery and wondering what real process performance means.

    And f there is a process that I need and it’s also performing bad, then a process map might help me to get more insight in why the process doesn’t live up to its expectations.

    Discovery and prioritize first, mapping later. Then you are really Improving by process.

    I’ve seen so many companies get lost in detail and not knowing why they are mapping their processes. For many cases it would have been better to not map a process at all.

    In that case mapping becomes a goal instead of a means. Indeed that’s often the case when regulation or ISO comes in. Mapping then becomes “Because we have to”. In that case I should stop and just buy the ISO certificate on the Black Market 😉

  2. Thanks for your reply Processje!

    My topic is based on my perception of the market and not what I actually think, because I absolutely agree with what you just wrote. Too many companies are mixing up “mapping” and “managing” processes. My job would be much easier if the process maturity grew within the market!

    The mix up may be due to lack of process-competence and maybe because the process orientation initiative is driven from the wrong hierarchal level within the organization. In Sweden, a Quality Manager is often responsible for the business processes, which of course is rarely ideal. In Sweden they are most likely not responsible for the actual line-of-business, which gives them no incentive at all to drive process improvement work.

    As Frederick Winslow Taylor wrote:
    “The first step in gaining control over an Organization is to know and understand the basic processes.”

    • Hello Fredrik,

      I think your perception is right, so we agree. If you could read Dutch, you would see the latest post on my website is also about this perception.

      Keep on improving by process!


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