4 Reasons Why Small Businesses Need Process Maps

operations Oct 30, 2017

Terry Hopper - Senior Business Analyst - Middlestone Business Analysis

4 reasons why small businesses need process maps

You might think “process maps” or “Standard Operating Procedures” are only necessary in large organisations. Perhaps you see them as a symptom of bureaucracy. A necessary evil. Think again! Process maps are invaluable in small businesses.

1) Process documentation makes it easier to train new workers

One of the biggest pressures on small businesses is time. Growing businesses are especially hard hit.

I’m sure this is familiar to you:

  • You know you need help, but you barely have time to recruit another member to the team.
  • When your new employee joins you, they then need training. But that’s more time you don’t have.
  • Inevitably, while learning, your new recruit then makes mistakes—which takes up more of your time.

Process maps can solve many of these issues:

  • Job descriptions are easier to write - because you know exactly what the job holder will be doing.
  • Training is easier - because you can show your new starter a written document.
  • Mistakes will be fewer - because of the excellent training you’ve given your newest team member!

2) A process map allows business owners to delegate tasks and processes

Delegation is an essential skill for entrepreneurs. Yet, small business owners, in particular, find it hard to let go of some tasks. That’s perfectly natural.

Having a process map can help owner-managers (and others!) to effectively delegate processes. The completed process map should give you comfort that the job is being done how you would wish, without micro-managing. A good process map will include timescales and checks or controls that have to be performed. By referring to the process map when assigning tasks, and when discussing tasks with your team, you are being explicit with what you want them to achieve.

3) Process mapping helps staff work together

With a clear process map, each member of the team can visualise the part they play in the process. It gives everyone a holistic view of the process, beyond the small part they play.

Even in very small businesses, not everyone can see the impact their work has on others. Often the work that one person does at the start of a process can cause serious headaches for people later on in the process. No one likes to complain. So often the problem goes unseen, with everyone blissfully unaware of the problems their actions are causing.

4) Process diagrams lead to process improvements

When you can see the process laid out on paper (or on screen), it is far easier to identify bottlenecks or problems. Sometimes they become glaringly obvious and they will jump out at you!

By visualising the process as a flow of tasks from A to B, you can start to ask questions of your process:

  • “Why do we do it this way?”
  • “Do we need to …?”
  • “Couldn’t we just …?”

These questions lead to better ways of working. And in small businesses even small improvements can have a significant impact.


Process diagrams can be extremely beneficial to small businesses – not just large ones.

I have two caveats though:

  • It does take time and effort to create good quality process maps. The exact time depends on the complexity of your processes and the level of detail you wish to include.
  • Process maps are only useful if they are used!

And I’ll leave you with that thought again “Process maps are only useful if they are used!”. When you do invest in process documentation, make sure you use them to achieve all the benefits I’ve outlined!

Terry Hopper - Senior Business Analyst - Middlestone Business Analysis

Terry is a Certified Internal Auditor® and a member of the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors.  Terry has worked in accountancy, creative and financial services industries.  He has detailed experience of systems integration and process design projects.

Now Terry is joined by a small, but enthusiastic, team of support staff and an array of technical contacts and contractors.  With access to experts in most fields, we can achieve anything!

Contact Terry - 01892 570 870 | [email protected]


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