Process Mapping for Glaziers
How to break down business operations and improve efficiencies
Download a process map template for the order of a replacement insulating glass unit.
Process mapping can prove a powerful tool for contract glazing firms. A process map itself is useful when onboarding employees or when an employee is absent. But the actual process of creating the map is often more valuable than the map itself.
Simply, process mapping is a visual way of documenting a series of steps, interactions, deliverables and people in a workflow. The aim is to create a structured and detailed flowchart that shows a process from start to finish. And in creating maps, management is able to identify places for improvement.
A process map gives management an opportunity to talk to everyone in the business—from glaziers to administrative staff—to really understand how things are done on a day-to-day basis. By including as much detail as possible, and by conferring with key staff members when things are unclear, gaps and inefficiencies become obvious. These are the areas which demand further attention and offer a great opportunity to improve productivity.
This article presents the key stages of process mapping.
To start, brainstorm a list of processes for mapping and establish which employees will be involved in the map for each process. For each process map, focus on one specific job or workflow. “Installing a shower door,” for example, would be a different process from “replacing an insulating glass unit.” The steps involved in both workflows might vary greatly, and fitting both into one process map could result in a document unhelpful for describing either.
For each process, draft a rough process outline from start to finish. Flesh it out by talking with the staff who carry out each step.
Start and end points of the process map should be clearly defined. For example, does the shower installation process map start at the point the inquiry comes in? Who picks up that inquiry, and does the process differ if it comes in via phone or email? Or perhaps it makes more sense to start the process map from the point the quote has been accepted and the job is proceeding?
There is no one-size-fits-all template. Where there are multiple possible outcomes, all should be documented.
Next, establish the type of information that needs to be collected from employees—the who, what, where, when, why and how of each stage of the process. The following questions are a useful starting point:
- What are all the steps/stages?
- Who is responsible for each stage?
- What are staff doing at each stage?
- What output does the customer see/receive at each stage?
- Are external suppliers involved? Who are they? What are their deliverables?
- Who is responsible for liaising with external suppliers, and are forms or templates involved?
- What are the deliverables for each stage? Not just the big physical items (like glass) but also the paperwork (quotes, invoices and so forth).
Each step in the process map should trigger the next action, and it is critical to have clarity around the transition from one step to another. Is there a clear point where one person’s responsibility ends, and how does that person pass the task on to the next person? Often these steps happen in an informal, ad hoc way, which makes it easy for things to fall through the cracks.
Collecting the right data is the most critical part of the process. It is tempting to simply send an email asking team members to describe how they do things and compile their responses. This will not yield the best results. Having a face-to-face conversation and asking follow-up questions is crucial. Employees will be talking about their day-to-day activities, and it is easy to forget minor details.
When interviewing staff, it is important to write down information in their words. Management lingo might obscure the meaning and the result will not be reflective of how the business runs.
A simple process map can be created in Microsoft PowerPoint, but using a dedicated process mapping application will be more straightforward. There are plenty of options online and many are free. Formatting denotes the type of action. For example, a hexagon might indicate a task, while a rectangle might indicate a decision. Arrows should show the flow from one step to another but should not overlap, as the map will become cluttered and difficult to read.
Throughout process mapping, honesty is key. Mapping might require an uncomfortably close look at business practices, but it will provide a strong base from which to build something great. If a task is estimated to take two hours but takes two days in reality, it is critical to write down “two days” in the process map. Understanding where the business is at is essential to moving forward.