Process Mapping - A Key Step in Creating More Efficient Government

Process Mapping is the next installment in a series of articles about creating more efficient government. Read the beginning of the series here

You need to understand business activities before you can sensibly make changes. Understanding requires that you identify the steps or activities that are being performed in the process. Here's how to map business processes in a structured fashion.

Step 1: Project Planning. Like any project, process mapping needs a plan, a timeline, a governance structure, and resources. Working with your team and with input from process stakeholders, you need to confirm the processes to be mapped, roles and responsibilities, governance including decision-making and problem resolution processes, the format for process documentation, and the work schedule for major project activities. You also need to assess if the project can be done using internal resources or if you will require external - i.e. consulting - support.

Step 2: Document Review. With project management issues resolved, the next step is to solicit and review any documentation pertaining to the processes to be defined. Relevant information from these will be used to help document process steps.

Step 3: Conduct Structured Interviews. The next step is to interview personnel with the appropriate expertise to identify the activities that comprise the work processes under review. Your team will need to design structured interviews to extract information efficiently, grouping processes according to area of responsibility. There may also be a requirement to conduct interviews with peers or partners that interface with the process, to identify process triggers and end-points.

Step 4: Document Process Steps. The information collected will be documented in the format selected by the team. Document steps in sequence, restricting your diagram to major steps at first; you can return to a particular process step if more clarity or granularity is required.

Document the flow of information to and from each process, and process inputs and outputs. Process documentation may include both graphical (e.g. flowchart) and textual formats (see example below).

Specific information to be captured should be validated by your team, but can be expected to include:

  • Process name;

  • Process purpose;

  • Process scope;

  • Process partners;

  • Process stakeholders and/or customers;

  • Process owners;

  • Process roles and responsibilities;

  • Process trigger and endpoint;

  • Process steps or activities;

  • Process information inflows/outflows;

  • Process cycle time/work time required for each step.

You should also document process management data - e.g. date created, responsibility for updating/maintaining, other pertinent information or comments.

process map

Sample process map - click on image to open larger version (pdf)

Finally, you should validate all information with stakeholders (and optionally, customers) of the process.

Process mapping carried out in a structured fashion doesn't have to be onerous, or expensive. The key is to develop a good plan, recruit the right team, and manage the scope to focus on key business activities.

Next issue: Gap Analysis


If you would like to discuss how process mapping for performance improvement might benefit your organization, contact PRS Vice President Charlie Snelling 613 744-4084 Charlie@public-sector-performance.com

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