How Process Mapping in SMEs Helps Drive Unimaginable Success

Process mapping, business process management, and associated improvement are sometimes seen as “big business” solutions and either not applicable to or not within the financial reach of smaller businesses. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Many of the immediate benefits of documenting your business processes apply no matter what the size of the business or organisation. Simply gaining insight into how your key business processes are performed can be a significant step forward for any business. Recognising and acting on the findings can actually be easier in a smaller company as they can be more agile in terms of decision making and implementation. The cost of specialist mapping software is now far more affordable than even a few years ago, opening up the opportunity to bring supposed “big business” solutions to any size organisation.

So, let’s take a look at how process mapping in SMEs can help to drive transformative outcomes:


Process Mapping in SMEs: Move From Assumptions to Knowledge


Achieve Clarity Around Your Current Processes

Without some form of documentation around how your key processes are performed, there is the risk that a number of assumptions are being made. Process maps allow you to find out how tasks and activities are truly executed. How you think they are performed, how they should be performed, or even how you want them to be performed rarely aligns with the current process.

Create Consistent Ways of Working

Consistent working methods eliminate confusion, ensure that risks are correctly managed, and help customers receive the same product/service no matter who is providing it. Inconsistent business processes lead to unmanaged risks, the provision of unbilled services to customers, and inefficient decision-making, to name but a few of the challenges that arise. Consistency through process management helps businesses to make quicker, informed decisions as they are able to base them on facts and not anecdotal evidence or unfounded assumptions.


Increase Capacity and Reduce Costs


Identify Inefficiencies and Duplication

With documented processes, it quickly becomes evident where there are opportunities to streamline them. Duplication of effort can swiftly be identified and eliminated. Without a detailed understanding of your processes, these issues can easily be lost or not prioritised in the day-to-day running of the business.

Understand Your Business Process Costs

Businesses often don’t understand what it costs to deliver their service or product. Transparent business processes allow you to calculate the total cost and see the cost of errors and other inefficiencies. What does it really cost when something goes wrong? Armed with this information, you can quickly see where opportunities to increase profit exist or assess whether the product/service is even viable.


Get the Most Out of Your Teams


Engage Staff

Your documented processes can provide a focal point for your employees. It’s essential (unless confidentiality prevents) that processes are accessible by all staff. It will give them a much better view of how their role fits into the overall business. From this stance, you can introduce staff objectives to raise process improvement ideas based on the content. Done correctly, you will create a team where continuous improvement becomes second nature. We believe that you will be rewarded both in the increased engagement and from the suggestions they contribute.

Increase Accountability

By assigning ownership of processes, you can significantly impact the engagement in your business. If you give ownership at the appropriate levels, then this can have an even more significant effect. Many companies simply assign process mapping roles and responsibilities to managers of departments or teams, but we advocate giving ownership and responsibility to people who actually perform the tasks. The manager can still be accountable for the process, but responsibility sits with the owner.

Release Potential

Business process mapping often highlights where people are performing what we call non-value added activities. This is not to say that these activities aren’t essential, but if you can identify them and either eliminate them or redesign the process, then the time you free up for that particular employee or team can be used in a way that adds true value to the business. For example, eliminating non-value added activities within a sales team, could enable them to spend more time selling and bring in additional revenue to the business.



Understand and Manage the Risks in Your Business


Help Drive Compliance

If you’re in a regulated industry or even want to ensure that employees are better equipped to comply with internal policies, process maps can help achieve this. Not only do they provide clarity around what to do to ensure you remain compliant, but you can also highlight those activities that are key to doing so.

Understand and Manage Your Risk Points

Clear process documentation helps to understand and show where risk points exist within a business. Often, these might not have been previously apparent, therefore meaning the risk was uncontrolled. By understanding where risk exists, you can also ensure that the relevant controls and escalations are in place. This means that people are clear on what they need to do to avoid issues and how to react when something does go wrong. A problem that is quickly identified stands a much better chance of being resolved with less impact.

Remove Key Person Dependencies

If ways of working are only in the heads of a limited number of people, then there is a significant risk that knowledge could be lost if someone leaves the company unexpectedly. Even if this didn’t happen, it would also be quite nice for them to take a holiday without being called to explain how to do something! 


Prepare for the Future


Build a Base for Change

How can you change or improve a way of working if you don’t know how it is performed today? Business process documentation allows you to make informed decisions, reducing the risk of overlooked parts of the process. Projects or system implementations are often based on assumptions around how work is executed. This can lead to missed information, with workarounds needing to be introduced once the project has finished, or in some cases, the project simply fails to deliver the intended benefits. The availability of accurate, up-to-date process documentation can have a hugely beneficial impact on any project management.

Prepare for Sale

Our research indicates that businesses that do not have clearly defined processes in place can not only see up to a 20% reduction in the value of the business, but it can also result in the business owner not being able to exit in their desired timescale. Buyers want to buy the business, not the knowledge caught up in one or two people’s heads. Even if selling the company isn’t in your short-term plans, starting to document your processes now ensures that you will be better prepared if and when the time comes to do so.


If you would like to find out more about how we can help your business, then why not book a free initial consultation on the following link: