Process Mapping HR
July 14, 2023
By Michael Burns, courtesy of SBAM-approved partner ASE
Recently an article on process mapping, also known as workflow mapping, was brought to my attention and it reminded me that although process mapping is typically used for product manufacturing, engineering, or other organizational process improvement this organizational improvement tool can also improve human resource functions.
Process mapping is a performance improvement tool used to streamline or correct faulty processes. It can also be used to improve the human resource policy and practice processes in larger human resource functions. In addition to making human resource functions more streamlined and effective it can also be used to document the many processes used in a human resource function thereby ensuring consistent application. HR process mapping captures the best process for any particular human resource policy and practice – think hiring process, performance management process, or disciplinary investigation process to name a few.
In their article, Which Performance Issues Are Impeding Progress? Process Mapping Enables Companies to Identify – and Eliminate -Faulty Processes and Performance Gaps, Kambira Dumesnil and Chris Lewis outline how to implement process mapping for organizational effectiveness. Process mapping uses a visual approach for fixing and documenting existing processes. They point out that process mapping enables organizations to conduct broad ranged process improvement investigations through multiple departments. As HR department staff retire or otherwise turnover, think about the value process mapping HR would have in not only reviewing, but improving the policies and practices by streamlining and documenting an organization’s human resources processes for future HR staff.
To process map, a current policy and procedure is identified and charted from start to finish. Disconnects where individual activities are broken are identified. These gaps can then be analyzed and the team doing the process mapping can develop feasible solutions. People from different HR areas and even HR staff in multi-unit organizations can be brought together to develop one acceptable and effective standard policy process for the entire HR organization.
The authors point out that teams working together enables them to produce not only better process solutions but also organizational buy-in for the changes the solutions will bring. Using teams of mappers brings the broader organization into the solution for its acceptance by the organization.
The authors recommend starting this process by teaching the team(s) correct process mapping techniques up front. Planning for mapping of the current process and determining what the improved process must be understood by the mapping teams to correctly perform process or workflow mapping.
The process starts with mapping the “as-is” state. What is currently being done? Then identify process disconnects or gaps.
When this step is completed, the team can then perform process re-design. The mapping team(s) can brainstorm solutions to the gaps/disconnects. When the best solutions are identified, implementation follows. The authors point out that the implementation stage can be challenging. Change management has a rather large failure rate historically. The failure has come from not effectively communicating with organizational leadership. The authors state, “Newly implemented solutions will change organizational roles and the way people perform their jobs. Due to the scary nature of such changes, change management efforts may ensure both leadership and participant support – from the top down and bottom up.”
The above caution applies within the human resource function too. Preparing the organization for changes to HR policies and procedures will allow the organization managers to prepare themselves and their people for the necessary change to human resource procedures to come.
Process mapping is not an endeavor to be taken lightly. The authors recommend starting with the development of a business case for change through mapping. The project may want to start with one important policy and process that would result in a “quick win.” This will provide momentum and support. Communicate the benefits of the mapping process to develop leadership support. Assign a process mapping facilitator. This role will ensure mapping rules are followed and everyone involved participates fairly.
Accurate documentation of process mapping follows so the newly revised processes are clear and set up to be followed by the entire organization. This process documentation standardizes the new policy and procedure for the rest of the organization to reference and follow.
The above outlines the common concerns and steps to implement process mapping. One important value beyond correcting inefficiencies or poor process steps is creating a documented process the HR organization can use moving forward. Mapping of HR policies and practices will prevent Inconsistent application of HR policies and procedures that may come from HR department staff turnover though time.
Source: Which Performance Issues Are Impeding Progress? Process Mapping Enables Companies to Identify – And Eliminate – Faulty Processes and Performance Gaps. Kambria Dumesnil and Chris Lewis ATD (6/1/2023)