Process maps lead have lost their way

Process maps used to guide much management thinking. Clumps of consultants and teams of clients would spend unlimited hours and dollars describing processes with arrows, triangles, squares, and elaborate inscriptions. Law departments have process mapped how litigation is handled, how patents are obtained, the way bills are reviewed, and how files are created.

Usually the process map describes the “as is” situation. Recommendations then focus on the “future state” of the reengineered process. By depicting the many steps and the decision points of a process, one could supposedly identify areas for streamlining.

It is very important to understand processes, I hasten to add, so you can make recommendations for improving them. But I doubt the cost effectiveness of preparing elaborate descriptions of the old process – especially using the specialized techniques and software tools that process mapping requires.

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