The Right Way to Build Process

Words you will have read multiple times on this blog are: “there is no single right way, but the are many wrong ways”.

Process mapping and building is no different. Below are key facts to consider when building a process to make it effective as well as malleable to environmental change. To, in other words, keep it alive.

Know what to build

Which process are you building? What is the purpose, who is involved, which parts of the business does it serve?

Another way to ask this is: how are you dividing your business to determine the various processes required?

One place to start is your Responsibility Chart. More and more businesses are replacing their Org Charts with Responsibility or Accountability charts. These focus on the roles and responsibilities and work from there. The outcome is an organizational structure built around outcomes instead of titles.

A business with a strong responsibility chart will have defined what needs to be done, as well as having defined who is needed, easily informing what processes must be built.

Start with the end in mind

This blog is always all about outcomes, and process is no different.

Once a given process is determined, a good starting point is: Why? What is the goal of this process? A question I like to ask is: what does success look like? Start from there and build a process that creates that success.

I also create various lists at this stage, for:

  • Goals
  • Tools/Resources
  • People
  • Deliverables

I only fill in the first one completely, allowing the other lists to both inform, and be informed by, the process.

Build the process

“What” is getting done is actually the last step in process mapping.

Start, instead, with that end goal and the first step required to achieve it: what does success look like for this first step? Break the outcome down into its minute elements and remember that you can only control what you do, not what others do.

Then ask yourself: why is this step required? How can success for this single step be achieved? Who is involved, and what can I control of their behaviors – you can train your employees to certain outcomes, but you can not control your clients behaviors, for example.

And, most importantly: how do I know when this step is complete?

Completion does not mean “I have done X”.

Completion means: the world looks slightly different. Something has happened to move the whole process forward.

[ctt template=”8″ link=”8hHN9″ via=”no” ]Completion means: the world looks slightly different. Something has happened to move the whole process forward. [/ctt]

A classic example is a sales process that says a step is complete when the sales person has sent an email. The step should actually be complete when the prospect has demonstrably moved forward in the sales process: they must have created a deliverable that proves to all involved that this sale cycle has progressed. It should be neither guess work nor opinion.

Work it backwards

Once you have written out the whole process, work back through it to ensure it is realistic, and then complete the lists with which we started.

What are the goals, what resources are required, who has to perform each step (this can be a role rather than a person), and what are the deliverables from all people involved.

Then you train your team and implement the process.

Focusing your people on the outcomes rather than the “to do” items will allow them the adaptability they need for managing people and situations that do not conform to the standard or expectation.

Effective process is always about outcome and improvement.


This summarizes how I build process with my clients. Does your business suffer from everybody doing different things, are meetings drawn out by the same issues being discussed over and over, or are you ready to formalize the value of your business and need to remove yourself from every single operation? Contact me to discuss process mapping for your business.