Business Process Mapping to Understand and Simplify the Business

Our Client – Huntly Doors

Huntly Door Systems (HDS) is a New Zealand-based company that specializes in the manufacture of internal doors and supply of hardware, as well as the manufacture and installation of stairs and wardrobes. The company was established in 1978 and has grown to become a well-respected name in the industry, both in New Zealand and internationally.

Over the years, the company has established a strong reputation for quality, reliability, and customer service. Today, HDS employs a team of experienced professionals and operates from a purpose-built facility in Huntly.

In recent years, HDS has continued to innovate, introducing new products and technologies to meet the evolving needs of its customers. Despite its growth and success, the company remains committed to its roots, maintaining a strong focus on quality, service, and customer satisfaction.

Challenge – Business Process Management

An inevitable part of the success and growth of the company has been that the systems and processes behind the operation have become rather complex. They either have not kept up with growth or have been added in a somewhat haphazard way over the years as operations expand and personnel change.

Although the process was working, there were too many steps. Several of these involved going back and forward between departments. An additional complication was that much of the ‘how it works’ was in people’s heads. Always an issue if there is any form of turnover.

Essentially, any step in a process is an opportunity for things to go wrong. The more steps, the more opportunity for error. Every crossover between departments or functions provides an opportunity for communication errors and/or delays.

Good business process management will smooth out the business processes and reduce waste and effort.

Productivity People’s Approach – Business Process Mapping

To better understand the actual process including its bottlenecks and waste, the entire process from the initial client inquiry to the final invoice was mapped. For each department, a highly detailed map of the processes, decisions, and interactions was drawn up. Using post-its that showed information flow, decisions, inputs, outputs, and links to other departments. Creating such a map – without even getting up close and reading the text – gives a great picture of how the process works. Just like any form of visual management, you can see from 5 metres away in 3 seconds, roughly what and where the issues are.

During business process mapping, it quickly became apparent that a large number of steps late in the process involved checking information completeness and accuracy from right at the front end of the system. Duplication of effort was rife, and a common theme of conversation was “We are always chasing incomplete or missing information”. The full map showed multiple instances of checks at the end of the process looping right back to the start.

The completed process map had a staggering 204 process steps and 17 switches between 8 departments. So, the initial impression from the exercise confirms that the process was just too complicated. This initial map was later converted into a cross-functional swim lane Process Flow to show potential areas for improvement.

A whole Team approach – It is all about the People

Involving all staff when drawing a process map is important because it ensures that the process map accurately represents the entire process and all the steps involved. Each employee or team member may have unique insights or perspectives that can help to identify inefficiencies, redundancies, or areas for improvement in the process. By involving all staff in the business process mapping, you can capture all this valuable information, resulting in a more comprehensive and effective process map.

Additionally, involving all staff can help to promote a sense of ownership and engagement in the process improvement effort. When employees are involved in the process mapping process, they have invested in the success of the initiative and are more willing to make changes that contribute to process improvement efforts.

The Result – Simplified Business Processes with less time and effort wasted on duplication

The completed map with its 204 process steps was remapped to an ideal future state. This was done by, not only looking at how each department worked, but also what was required for each product order as it went through the organisation. The process was swimlaned through the discrete stages of:

 Enquiry > Estimate > Planning > Purchasing > Scheduling > Production > Finance.

Once the flow was determined at a high level, the information requirements could be listed and included in a stage/gate checklist. If the information is not there, nothing progresses. By laying out what information was critical, all the ‘mop up’ work which was being carried out largely by Finance was eliminated. Customers no longer get pricing surprises late in the process as completeness and transparency of information is now the key focus of the new process. The source of all the information required will be documented so training of new staff will be much quicker and more standardised than in the past.

Huntly Doors logo
brown paper process map with post-its

Step 1: Business process mapping using the brown paper method

process map in Visio

Step 2: The complete current business processes documented in Visio. This image only shows part of the whole business process map.

swimlaned process map

Step 3: The optimised business processes documented in swimlanes.