Process Mapping & I, a love story.

This is a short story about how I became enamoured with translating almost every aspect of my job into a ‘structured series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end’.

As someone who is relatively new to the business of Web Development, I quickly learnt how invaluable a good flow-chart, diagram or simple list of bullet-points can be.

When it comes to understanding what might otherwise be perceived as a complex task, these tools can really make a difference! Not to mention that having it documented makes a world of difference when it comes to remembering it. Better yet, formulating and writing it down personally will ensure the concept sinks in and becomes an integral part of how one works.

I have often found myself struggling to fully comprehend a new company’s way of delivering a project.
Mapping out a process creates a visual picture, which helps the mind to easily capture and retain it and also to identify its key steps and details.

This is why I was so thrilled when I learnt about Cogworks introducing EOS as a means of organising the business and ensuring continuous and measured growth.

Adopting this system, together with a large variety of other exciting activities, means we have been actively documenting all our internal processes in a standardised way, often reviewing and amending them whilst progressing.

Critical to making this business strategy successful is making sure that these processes are indeed followed by everyone, ensuring the company as a whole is on the same page and pointed towards the same final goal.

Here is a great example of how we created our standard Project Process for website builds.

Firstly we chose our platform for documentation - we decided to go with Figma because it provides easy accessibility and we were using it within the design team already. Then we proceeded to record how we approached one of our typical builds.

We identified the 4 main phases in the project lifecycle and then sub-divided them into smaller set of activities.

Below is a first draft that we created using post-it notes and lots of confusing (but colourful) scribbling. At least one ‘representative’ from each team was present during this drafting as it was important to have everyone’s view. 

Image from iOS (3).jpg

Using post-it notes enabled us to have a more flexible approach which is essential at this stage, moving post-its around is much quicker than erasing and rewriting isn’t it?
Once we had a clear structure in place we transferred it onto Figma and made it look a lot less messy :)

Production Cycle.jpg

All of our processes undergo continuous review and changes to help fill any gaps, remove any redundant elements and improve efficiency.

Below is a revised version of the above diagram where we better defined Phase 1 and Phase 2 by listing all sub-phases within the first pink box.
Also, we renamed the QA boxes in a way that better describes the activity at that point of the workflow.

Production Cycle_final.jpg

When writing a new process we focus on simplicity, accuracy and accessibility.

Making the complex simple is at the heart of everything we do, it doesn’t apply just to clients but we apply this principle internally as well.

Finally, collating all of your shiny new graphs or diagrams together in one central place is essential. This place can be anything from a folder in Google Drive or an application like Trello or (in our case) an ad-hoc static intranet website that we update using GitHub.
Following these steps will lead to the creation of a Process Library, which will ensure it is easy for everyone to find and adopt any process they need! 

It takes time, energy and focus to produce a Process Library, so it is important to maximize the chances of the library being successful.

To summarise:

  • Pick an area that is part of your company’s workflow and start recording the key actions that form it. If you are just starting, I recommend focusing on the areas that involve the most team members

  • Establish and document the process using your findings.Translating this into a visual as opposed to pages and pages of text will be better received by your audience

  • Review and adapt your process frequently to ensure continuous improvement and relevance

  • Standardise the format of your process documentation - simplify, simplify, simplify!

  • Centralise all of your processes to maximise usage

  • The more processes you map the better!

 

There are a number of benefits resulting from the following of these proceedings, including but not limited to increased team efficiency which will eventually lead to productivity growth.
Directly linked to consistency, there will be less confusion both internally and on the client side.
Last but not least, imagine how much smoother on-boarding new members of the team will be having most things clearly written down and easy for them to access whenever they need to refresh their knowledge!

Like any other love story - your relationship with process mapping will require consistent attention and care to ensure the bond stays strong and long-lasting :)

 

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