Successful process mapping: business process definition

What is a process?

In this post, we will answer this first question. Why is this question important?

Why this question is important

You need to define processes for your organisation, or you will spend time and money revising your process maps. Without a clear understanding of processes in your organisation, you cannot monitor them, which in turn affects the overall performance of your business.

Understanding processes

To understand process mapping better, we need to define a process first.

Process definition

A process is a series of steps taken to achieve an outcome.  For example:

  • Recruitment (could be one process, or it could be  several processes)
  • Payroll (could overlap between HR and Finance)
  • Purchasing (could be one big process, with up to 20 smaller processes)

You can classify processes based on their function, namely:

  1. Technical processes (engineering or technical industry-related processes, e.g., water purification)
  2. Business processes (organisational processes, e.g., purchasing)
  3. System processes (computer or system-specific processes, e.g., backup)

Usual elements of a process

Elements are useful components of a process. Processes have:

  1. Multiple inputs and outputs
  2. A boundary (a start and an end)
  3. An owner (who’s responsible for managing the process)
  4. A supplier (who provides the input)
  5. A customer (who receives the final output)
  6. Roles (who carry out tasks)
  7. Time / event triggers (what starts the process)
  8. Metrics (performance indicators or KPIs)
  9. Resources (e.g., equipment)

Download a simple Customer-oriented Process flowchart. It is very similar to the process flow that ISO recommends.

In the next post we will look at types of processes.

Useful resource:

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