When Faced with a Messy Process, Do a Map
Many hours are spent in government and organization offices trying to figure out how to handle requests, complaints, problem-solving, and projects. The problem is compounded if tasks are not centralized through staff or a department or if each problem is handled each time differently.
A mapping exercise for the government or any organization always results in positive changes in dealing with these problems. Many organizations have not looked at how they work. Various process steps or decision-making have evolved into a difficult or cumbersome process.
A mapping exercise begins with the group involved in a process, where they outline their current way of doing a task or solving a problem. This tends to be more interactive when those involved draw a timeline of each step on a large piece of paper or use post sticky notes on a wall to write and move the steps around. Examining a process and why it is done in a particular manner allows participants to identify how to save time, money, and headaches.
When a team maps each formal and informal step, it allows a faster, streamlined, and simple version to be created. This process often results in recommendations to redesign efforts:
- Can a step be automated or done online?
- Can the steps be skipped, simplified, or reduced in number?
- Can staff time, difficulty, and multiple approvals be reduced or simplified?
- Are there legal, regulatory, ethical, or safety reasons for a step? Can these steps be streamlined without being removed?
A before and after map can be placed on paper for leadership approval. Moving onto a new map or process requires communicating changes to those involved so that old behaviors are not repeated. Sharing or posting the process in an office for others to see helps them to navigate the system easier and allows participants to break with the old ways of doing things.