Process mapping involves a step by step walk through of existing (or proposed) activities considering inputs, outputs, decisions and possible sub processes on which the area of interest may be dependant. As such, process mapping is not only important for determining the scope of a LIMS project, but also implementing process improvements by streamlining the existing process, or changing ways of working.
Ultimately, the process mapping exercise is about team work. Consideration of the following steps will reduce the risk of gaps in mapped activities and help achieve buy in from those affected by the change:
- 1. Understanding Scope
A process mapping exercise can quickly spiral out of control if the team and facilitator are not clear on the scope from the outset. Prior to the meeting the facilitator and change leader (assuming they are not the same person) should agree on and communicate the scope to the team prior to the session. An initial discussion on the scope, during the opening meeting, is acceptable and even changing the scope if appropriate, but ‘scope creep’ should be avoided.
- 2. Building the Right Team
Business processes typically involve more than a single individual and are normally dependencies for other processes. Therefore, why process map in isolation? The team is pivotal to delivering a process map which incorporates not only activities that are assumed to occur, but those which are hidden from the wider business. Ensuring involvement across the affected departments and fostering an excitement about any new processes will reduce resistance to the change.
- 3. Walking the Process
The right team will include stakeholders, process users and subject matter experts who may only have visibility of their own part of the much wider process. Walking the whole team through the full process promotes the following:
- Visibility of the whole process;
- An opportunity for users to show their processes to others;
- An opportunity for ‘fresh eyes’ to view existing processes.
In a hectic business environment, there is limited opportunity for employees to view processes outside of their remit. This step enables the team to take a step back from the day to day and can yield interesting new ideas for process improvement.
- 4. Not Just Another Power Point Presentation
The team is assembled, and the process has been walked. Hopefully now the team is energised and engaged in the activity and prospect of change. To keep the team engaged, provide a brief overview of the activities, but avoid lengthy Powerpoint presentations and facilitator discussion. Get the team involved and owning the mapping exercise, and make it fun:
- Have the team ‘Post-it Note’ the process;
- Have each user discuss their steps;
- Encourage the team to make suggestions and encourage their ideas
Active involvement from the employees will provide the greatest opportunity for buy-in and involvement; the team are likely to want to see the finished product as they have helped to shape it.
- 5. Next Steps
The process has been mapped, but it was a process flow on a wall; provide the attendees with an easy to understand diagram and photos from the session. The final output may be a user requirement specification for a LIMS or maybe a Project Charter for a process improvement project. Keep the original team engaged with regular updates, and where possible, ‘show and tell’ meetings to demonstrate tangible progress. The team’s involvement doesn’t end on completion of the process mapping exercise; it’s just the start of their journey.