Getting started with Business Process Workflows

Published by Jonathan Bennett

Thursday Oct 10 2019 Industry Experts

In the current digital era, businesses that are not harnessing the increasing capabilities of digitalisation risk getting left behind.

However, digital transformation brings some major challenges that must be overcome, and this can delay or even completely prevent the implementation of process improvements through digital solutions.

One of the most significant technological developments in the last year has been the widespread adoption of user-friendly automation. Automation is nothing new. Many existing technologies offer some form such as macros in excel or rules in CRM systems. Still, up until now, these have required advanced IT skills to implement.

There is now a new wave of tools (such as our conveyancing workflow solution Matter Centre) that have made automation accessible and easy to implement. You no longer need to know VB to create auto-populated documents or create multi-step workflows.

To take full advantage of automation though you need to begin with understanding your current business processes, how to improve, and what workflows will work best for you. Taking the time to prepare and plan your digital implementation will in the long-run provide significant benefits.

What is business process mapping?

To provide a basic definition, process mapping is where you breakdown complex jobs into smaller segments to detail how the process is completed and present it in a visual format.

It is a method commonly used by businesses to standardise processes, help to train new employees on procedures and to identify operational improvements.

For a digital transformation project, process mapping will generally review the manual tasks that form part of a process. The project team can then design the new digitalised process as well as identify any opportunities to automate tasks.

It ensures that there are no oversights in terms of key parts of a process and provides clarity on what happens at different parts of the process and who is responsible for various tasks.

Getting started with business process maps

Process mapping can be done using a basic flowchart, using the different symbols to indicate elements such as activities, decisions, direction of the flow and other key elements.

Software such as Microsoft Visio has historically been the most popular choice of software used to develop these types of flowcharts. Other features of process maps include ‘swimming lanes’ that can be used to show the change in task ownership from one team to another. Other software options other than Visio can be used, with some of the free alternatives that are available including LucidchartCreately and Pencil Project.

They are all fairly similar in functionality and provide templates that the user can modify as they need to. Once the process maps have been drawn and finalised, they can be saved in pdf format to make them easily shareable.

In some circumstances, only a high-level process map is required, for example to show a brief summary of how the process works but where greater understanding of the process is required, a detailed end-to-end process map would be needed. For digital transformation projects, all processes must be developed to the lowest level of detail to ensure all necessary details have been considered.

There is a standard set of symbols called Business Process Model and Notation (BPNM) symbols that most companies adopt when they are developing process maps, to make the maps easier for different audiences to understand. Another type of symbol model called UML (Unified Modelling Language) is sometimes used when visualising system models.

What steps should you take when designing a new business process workflow?

Whenever we set to create a new workflow, we always follow these simple steps to ensure it meets our requirements and

  • Step 1 – Set up a process mapping team
  • Step 2 – Identify processes that require mapping
  • Step 3 – Collate all the relevant process information
  • Step 4 – Plot out the map
  • Step 5 – Send process maps for review
  • Step 6 – Digital transformation solution analysis
  • Step 7 – Testing of new system(s)
  • Step 8 – Process mapping for new processes

To learn more Download our Ultimate Guide to Process Mapping for Digital Transformation where we go into more detail on each of these steps and discuss how to embed new processes into your business successfully.