A Business Process is a way of defining what steps to take, what responses are required, and actions that need to be taken for any given task. As I prepared to create a Warehouse Process and corresponding flowchart I realized that finding a starting point was just as difficult as the task itself. What I found that helped me the most was creating and documenting the process in the form of a Business Process. I am not quite done with this project, but these steps are making it a lot easier for me to stay focused and clearly work toward the end result. There are three steps that I found to be the most helpful in creating our processes and flow chart.
The first step is to identify the processes. For example a Warehouse Process Map will need sections for inbound, outbound, inspections, etc. Figuring out all of the processes to identify in a process map will make the process organized. It is recommended that the processes be outlined in the way the processes are played out. A Warehouse Process Map would have the first process be Outbound, then Inbound, then Inspections and so forth, all in which the order of operations is performed.
Discuss and Document
The second step is to discuss and document. It is essential to get a full understanding of ALL the steps involved in any given process. Often times a process map creator, like me for instance, lays out the steps without fully understanding them. Discussing the steps with employees that carry these functions out will ensure that the process map is as accurate as possible. This is often the most time consuming portion of the project. Obtaining the required information involves sitting with employees and having them describe what they do step-by-step. After this, time is spent in documenting the steps in a word format. Below is a simple example:
1. Don’t Want Returns
a. In Resalable Condition: Check Qty Approved → Check Qty to Stock → Click Process
→ Refund Tab → Add to Warehouse Inventory → Complete
The third step is to create a flow chart. A flowchart is a visual presentation of the steps involved in the process that is being mapped. The process map consists of many different symbols that indicate a decision, or the beginning and end of a task. The flow chart is the tool that can be used to train new employees to clearly explain the tasks that need to be followed in order to complete a task.
The final step is reviewing the process map and flow chart. The easiest way to do this is to again take time with each employee and get their thoughts or suggestions in making the process map and flowchart better, more accurate, inclusive of process responsibilities, and amend it accordingly. Remember that these processes are not set in stone. Methods can change periodically, especially if new technologies or tools are obtained.
The time taken to create a process and flowchart may be substantial, but knowing that each employee has a tool that diagrams exactly what is expected of them is beneficial not only to the employees, but to the company, and ultimately to the customer.