Industry Insights

Business Process Mapping and Automation

Mark Sheehan

Senior Consultant

September 11th, 2022

Businesses are complex, and with the acceleration of movement of people between roles and organisations, it is more important than ever to have business processes documented in a clear and understandable way.  

What is the impact to your business when a subject matter expert walks out of the door, taking with them the knowledge that they have built over the time of their employment? 

On the flip side of that, when a new person joins your organisation, how long does it take for that person to become productive and execute your processes in the correct way? 

Whilst there are real benefits to documenting processes, how many instances are there of detailed, valid business process documentation being created and stored, only to be unread by the people involved in those processes or being so complex that they aren’t understood correctly? 

A traditional workflow diagram might look like Figure 1. Whilst it might correctly describe the process, it is not in a format that an every day user can easily understand and use. 

Article creation workflow diagram
Figure 1 - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Article_Creation_Workflow_diagram.png 

A better way 

There is a way to approach business process mapping that staff will love, will be used day to day and will allow for continuous improvement of processes. 

Nintex have a suite of solutions for process mapping and automation. Promapp is the solution that helps business teams create, change, optimise and share their process knowledge. 

Promapp allows the documentation, use and refinement of processes not only by the process owner and expert, but by the people who really perform those processes every day. 

Process maps are easy to create and publish and are made available through the Promapp application or can be embedded into your Intranet. Controls can easily be applied to the publishing of new versions of processes to ensure they are correct and approved, and users can provide feedback right from the process view. 

Sample Promapp process
Figure 2 - Sample Promapp process 

Some of the key benefits to this approach to process mapping are: 

  • Increased efficiency 
  • Simplified risk and compliance management 
  • Improved quality and consistency 
  • Reduced costs 

One of the aspects of Promapp that I love is the ability to tag process steps with systems. Imagine if your business had all the processes mapped and you could see exactly which processes are using a system such as ERP or CRM. If you needed to perform changes, maintenance, or upgrades of a system, you would be able to bring up a report of all processes in your business that will be impacted at the press of a button. Then you’d be able to ensure that appropriate actions are taken to mitigate the impact of the proposed changes. 

Process Automation 

Process automation presents enormous opportunities to businesses to improve efficiency, save money and improve service. The question is, which processes should we be automating? How do you know what the potential return is on your investment in automation? 

Within a Promapp process, we can assign costs to the participants in a process along with information about how frequently the process is executed over time. This means that we can look at the cost of each aspect of a process and determine the likely ROI if we were to automate it. 

I have personally automated a lot of processes through my career, and one of the key challenges is understanding and documenting the process to be automated. It is clear to me that there is no such thing as a ‘Simple process’. Whilst someone might view it as ‘simple’, once we dive into the details, the edge cases and exceptions, processes can become complex quite quickly. Documenting processes up front including variations goes a long way to alleviating this issue and might highlight that only certain aspects of a process should be automated. 

Conclusion 

If you want to map and automate your processes, whether your focus is decreasing risk, improving quality, or improving efficiency, I encourage you to consider how to do that in a way that people will want to use it and help your business flourish. In my opinion, it is very sad when a business and its staff invest a lot of time, energy, and money to document processes, only for them to go unused or out of date. 

For more information or a discussion about Nintex Promapp reach out to our experts today

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