How do I map out how we do the work we do?



Every organization is really a set of key processes working together in order to deliver the product or service to satisfy the customer.


These key processes are just a set of activities, which work together to deliver the end result.


If we map out these processes, their activities, the relationships between activities we can begin to see opportunities for improvement.


So what tools do we need in order to map out a process?




How about some sharp pencils and a big piece of paper and some people who know how the work is done?  YOU’RE KIDDING, RIGHT?




Not really…


Let’s suppose you are a manager of a real estate firm.  


I don’t know much about real estate other than sometimes I need to buy a home or sell a home, but I can imagine some challenges a Realtor might have:


How do I get the people looking to buy or sell a house to buy it or sell it through me and my firm?


How do I find or sell a home for someone quicker than how long it takes me to do it now?


How do I get someone to come back to me to buy their next home, now that they used me once?


How do I help someone buy or sell their home and do it so it costs me less to do it?




The first issue deals with what factors the customer considers critical in selecting a Realtor, a supplier, if you will.


The second issue deals with the cycle time to buy or sell a house.


The third issue deals with how much it costs to buy or sell a house.


In all three cases, the secret to solving the problem, addressing the issue is an understanding of the process behind the business.  


How does the way we do business, the way we process the work influence whether customer selects out firm, how long it will take to find the solution to their problem or how much it costs to find that same solution.


So, you’ve got your paper, your pencils and your process experts in a room. Now what?


Let’s start at the end:  hand the keys to the new home-owner.  What activity happened before that one?  Maybe it’s complete closing.  OK, now we’re on a roll.


All you have to do is keep going back up the process flow until you get to the initial step in the process.  This might be receiving a call from a prospective customer.


Your mission:  to fill in the series of steps between receive call and deliver keys.  There might be ten steps in the process or there might be 95 steps.  


What you want to do is “walk along the process” and capture the main activity involved.


Next, you’ll see how this series of steps or activities in a number of internal suppliers delivering things to internal customers.  Each supplier must meet each customer’s needs, in a certain way for each step o work effectively; to deliver achieve the correct “output” if you will.



If you look at how long it takes to go from beginning to end of the process, you may find the average is eight weeks, plus or minus three weeks.


If you look at each step in the process you may find that there is only six hours of real, value-added work involved.  If you add up the twenty steps in the process that they take a total of six hours of time spent turning all those little inputs into outputs along the way.


So, if it takes you eight weeks to perform six hours of a value-added process, how much room is there for improvement?  In a perfect world, you would receive a call from a customer at 9:00 am and turn the keys to their new home over to them at 5:00 pm.  


BUT THE WORLD IS NOT PERFECT is it?  So, what would be a reasonable goal?  Maybe five or six weeks instead of eight weeks?  


How much would you save, per house sold if you sold a house in five weeks instead of eight weeks?


Another approach is to look at those steps in the process and see where the bottlenecks are.  Where is there know pain in the process?  What steps take the longest and why?  


What steps cause you the most problems? By just addressing one r two major problems in your process flow, you may be able to fix almost half of the problem.


Even if it cost you several thousand dollars to fix the big issues, that probably would help you avoid the thousands of dollars you are loosing each day by not fixing the problems.




Whether you want to do more with less people or you want to do more with the same team, business process improvement makes economic sense.


It’s all about looking at the way you do the work you do.


Mapping out your key process is the first step toward you goal of being an efficient, effective, competitive organization?


Would you rather delight your customer or merely satisfy them, most of the time.


How long does it take you to deliver the products or services you offer?


What or where are the steps or activities in your key processes which cause the pain and keep you from performing competitively?


How would mapping out the process help you see where the issues are?


We welcome your input. Send us your questions or concerns and we’ll reply with tips, tools and techniques to address your needs.


Reply to this posting or contact Mike at and take the first step in your business process improvement journey.


For all the tips…Get the book…




Everything Is A Process

Success means having the courage to take the first step. or


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About Michael R Weekes

With more than 25 years experience in business process improvement, Mike Weekes is known as the couch-potato-turned-marathoner. Mike helps organizations in the NFP, manufacturing, healthcare, government / education domains to save more than $200,000 a year in operational expenses using a simple philosophy: EVERYTHING IS A PROCESS.

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