Every task we undertake in the workplace fits into a process – whether we are aware of this or not. These workplace processes impact on both agency participants/clients, staff and the agency’s own internal workings, for example, finance, human resources and administration. As soon as more than one organisation is involved with a participant, there are across agency processes involved (formal as in a protocol/partnership, or informal). There are 3 major steps to process mapping:
Initial workshop with key people involved mapping out what happens now in a process;
Workshop participants discussing, deciding and all agreeing what changes need to be made to the process, and
Development of an implementation plan with tasks to achieve the agreed changes.
Mapping involves bringing together those involved in a process into a mapping workshop and literally diagramming out the journey that, for example, a participant would take from first contact with the organisation to being involved with them and ultimately to exiting the service (as appropriate). This initial step involves the facilitator asking questions relating to ‘What happens next? Who does what and when? What documentation (paper, digital or database) occurs? What communication happens and with whom? Who makes the decisions relating to moving to the next step in the process?’ With the use of a sticky wall, the process can be mapped out as the workshop participants describe it. The sticky wall facilitates easily moving a step when the group remembers that there was an earlier step not included. This step is usually accompanied by quite a few ‘aha’ moments as participants see how messy or complex their process is. It may be the first time that they clearly understand how complex it is for a participant to get into the program they run or what other staff do and need for a process to work smoothly (eg recruitment).
It is common for participants to move easily into the ‘What needs to change?’ discussion. The sticky wall assists in putting up options so participants can visualise what is being suggested and tweak as needed.
The participants develop an implementation planwhich both focusses them and prioritises what needs to be done to achieve process change.
A useful 4th step is the review of the process in 6-12 months’ time to assess how the changes are working and if further improvements are called for.
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