Try flowcharting your processes
Working with a client recently on their membership join process reminded me of the tremendous value of putting your processes into a flowchart. In their case, a single membership join (organization) requires asking three questions before the correct "join path" is determined. Drawing a flowchart of this decision process will help provide them a stark visual view of how complex their business rules actually are.
Here are just a few of the benefits of flow-charting:
- Provides a very vivid visual view of how simple or complex your process is. The more steps there are in the process, and the more decision points in your process, the more complex it is.
- Identifies where the exceptions are. Every decision point is, technically, an exception. Too many may be an indicator that you're trying to manage to the exception, a big no-no!
- Identifies where NO rules are! As you work through your flowchart, you may find that some decision points lead you to a process that hasn't been defined yet.
- Demonstrates easily and quickly to others what's involved in a process. Too often those who are not involved in a process don't understand just how many steps are involved. A flowchart can demonstrate this quickly.
One of the best benefits of all is that drawing a flowchart can force clarity on a process. As the points above illustrate, business processes often aren't completely thought through. A flowchart can help you identify gaps, exceptions, and unnecessary complications.
So start drawing those charts!