The big idea
Businesses grow by processes of revolution and evolution. In times of revolution – starting out, fast growth etc – ways of working inside a business are rarely designed before they are used. Before you know it, the business is built on the first ways of doing things, regardless of whether they are the most efficient ways of working. Ask yourself why you do things a certain way. Is it because you’ve always done it that way?
Over time, business processes evolve, often subconsciously. Even if the processes were designed efficiently in the beginning, over time, ways get corrupted. Changing environments, new technologies and people who were not privy to the original design principles all have an impact. Rather like a boat gathering barnacles over time, processes gather inefficient add-ons and degrade over time.
Chances are there is an amazing opportunity for efficiency and thus performance improvement by examining the processes of work inside your business and redesigning them.
First, you need to understand and communicate how a process works.
Flow charts are easy-to-understand diagrams showing how steps in a process fit together. This makes them useful tools for communicating how processes work, and for clearly documenting how a particular job is done. The act of mapping a process out in flow chart format helps you clarify your understanding of the process. It helps you think about where the process can be improved.
A flow chart can therefore be used to:
- Define and assess processes
- Build a step-by-step picture of the process for analysis, discussion or communication
- Define, standardise or find areas for improvement in a process
By conveying the information or processes in a step-by-step flow, you can then concentrate more intently on each individual step. This can stop you feeling overwhelmed by the bigger picture.
The tool introduces you to flow charts and mapping out a business process. It can be done on your own or with a group. The time needed to work through the tool will depend on the complexity of the process you are looking at. The tool is suitable for businesses of all scales and sectors.