Process Mapping and its Importance in ERP Implementation
Komal Darshak Koshiya, Senior Auditor
What is Process Mapping?
Process Mapping means flowcharting the critical business processes using a more hierarchical approach. Business Process Mapping is a framework, which is used to create visual representations of business processes. Business process maps reveal the relationship between operational steps and inputs to produce an end-product or service. The main purpose of business process mapping is to promote transparency and allow organizations to improve upon their current practices by creating a clear, detailed visual representation of workflows.
The best business process Mapping strategies involve both a current state and future state analysis to clearly define how a new ERP system can get them from point A to point B and to help anticipate the impacts of the new system moving forward. There are three major phases in process mapping:
- Creating the “As-Is” model,
- Creating the “To-Be” model, and
- Bridging the Chasm, or in other words, getting from the here and now to the future state.
Creating the “As-Is” model – Define Current State Business Processes
The first step in determining where you want to be is to understand where you are. Knowing how your business currently operates and having business practices clearly documented is important for several reasons. Documenting your current state business processes often reveals inefficiencies and opportunities for improvement, as well as unique differentiating factors that give your organization an advantage over competitors.
Process maps should be created for each function that can be summarized up to the primary ERP-related process flows as they are being performed currently. These process maps should be created at the functional level to assure that any sub-processes are also covered. Within each functional area, each step isolates an individual process into a workflow diagram for a clear depiction of a process or series of parallel processes.
Why do an As-Is model at all? Sometimes processes have evolved to solve a problem with a particular customer, employee, or manager. Understanding why the process is performed in a particular way will permit the elimination of non-value-added work during the last phase of process mapping, the process simplification phase.
Creating the “To-Be” model – Define Future State Business Processes
These phase represent the way that the business processes will be structured in the ERP-enabled state. The purpose of the ERP system is to automate certain business processes according to the “To Be” maps. Therefore, the ERP system must personalized or customized to accommodate those intended process flows.
Having a visual representation of the current processes, one can identify delays, bottlenecks, and other inefficiencies. Then, create a future state process map that eliminates these issues. It’s also important to understand the future direction of the business and any additional business capabilities required for the foreseeable future. These considerations should also be reflected in the future state documentation. As is the case with all stages of business process reengineering, future state process mapping should be performed at a technology-agnostic level that does not yet address how processes will be completed within a specific ERP system.
Bridging the Chasm
In this phase, all potential gaps, problem, issues and risks are both identified and prioritized. Resolution efforts are detailed; including resource, cost and time requirements. Responsibility for and ownership over each issue is allocated.
Importance of Process Mapping in ERP Implementation
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) system implementations typically require several modules to be implemented and integrated into the business. Having clearly defined current and future state business processes documentation is a distinct advantage that reduces the time, effort and cost associated with business management software initiatives. You’ll need to have a clear understanding of where you are, and where you want your business to be in the future before you can start planning your ERP journey.
Companies need to understand what they’re changing from and what they’re changing into. Only once they have this understanding can they plan how to change to the intended, restructured state. When this type of planning is overlooked, implementation failure is a likely and unfortunate result. Successful ERP implementations are not only driven by software but also by business processes. Companies assume that the new system will make their processes easier to perform, without first examining their actual processes. Business process mapping is one of the most critical aspects of implementation projects.
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