The process map can be a very useful tool for visualizing complex interactions between multiple elements in a production chain, and it’s commonly used in many business environments to develop a better understanding of the underlying systems. At the same time, it’s also underutilized in some areas where it could potentially have a very positive impact as well, such as the transactional environment.
The problem is that the transactional environment deals with a higher-level overview of the flow of a process in your organization, which may sometimes be difficult to map in the style required by a process map.
After all, a process map identifies discrete steps for each part of the process, while there might sometimes be significant overlap between different nodes when dealing with a transactional environment.
Identifying Key Elements
In order to map a process successfully, you need to figure out the key elements that you’ll be visualizing. If you’re having trouble with this due to the nature of your transactional environment’s structure, try to think of the relationships between elements rather than elements themselves.
This can allow you to identify the points that connect those relationships, and in the end, you should be able to come up with a list of elements that show up regularly in your analysis.
Those may not always be actions, but resources which should be listed in the input/output boxes of the process map. Also, in some cases, you may need to identify intermediate resources in a multi-step process. You should make sure to adapt your process map accordingly.
Challenge Each Step of the Process
A great benefit of using process maps is that they can allow you to provide some constructive criticism on the current state of the process, based on actual data and not intuition. Once you’ve identified the map itself, you can start going through each step or resource that you’ve identified, and try to figure out if they’re critical for the way the process is currently structured.
Sometimes you may identify an opportunity to combine multiple steps into one, or on the other hand, to simplify the process by splitting up a step into several more easily controllable ones. The nice thing about a process map is that it gives you an objective overview of the current way the different steps of your processes are connected, but it’s up to you how you’re going to interpret that and whether what you see means that you need to make any changes.
Not every organization works the same way, after all, and in some cases, a transactional environment will be organized in a more modular way that isolates each component. This might make it inappropriate to combine multiple steps into one, but you should still look for such opportunities nevertheless.
Some see the process map as a tool that’s exclusively useful in the manufacturing environment, but the truth is that it can have great benefits in the transactional environment as well, at least when applied correctly. There are some caveats to using the tool in this context, and you should familiarize yourself with them as early as possible in your use of process maps in your organization. Once you’ve sorted out those differences though, you should find it to be a very flexible tool that brings great results to the table with relatively little effort. And of course, remember the subjective nature of interpreting the way the map is structured, which may raise some arguments when discussing a map with multiple people.