One of the weakest maturity elements of most contingent workforce programs in the marketplace is process mapping, which, if done well, can be a powerful program management tool. Together with complementary management tools such as SOPs (standard operating procedures) and ROEs (rules of engagement), process maps codify the execution strategy of the CW program’s purpose and mission.

We typically think of process maps when we are driving significant operational change in a program. “As-is” and “desired state” process maps would be required before adding new management-enabling technology or moving program management to an external MSP partner, for example.

But process maps can be a strategic support tool in less conspicuous ways, and can be leveraged to support a number of critical CW program management items, such as:

  • Continuous improvement initiatives
  • Protection and detective measurement execution strategy
  • Speed to service/solution methodologies
  • Root-cause support analysis
  • Compliance control execution strategy
  • Repeatable efficient service solution
  • 360 quality survey execution strategy
  • Quality control
  • Risk mitigation execution strategy

Process mapping in action. Here’s an example of a less obvious time when process mapping is needed. Say executive or stakeholder approvals are slowing down a process. Deploying approval steps via a mobile application would ensure the process is executed very quickly, but this effort cannot be undertaken without first mapping out the process at hand.

A process map inventory would help define where all the approval steps are located, and how either a negative decision or a positive decision directs the process path. And process mapping can help to eliminate unnecessary approval steps should it become apparent they are burdening the program’s speed to service/solution.

The bottom line is you can’t overhaul your approval step strategy and leverage a mobile processing step unless you know how to automate it into your known structure and your management technology has the capability to do so. In this example, process mapping provides visibility into approval process steps to be tracked and executed via mobile application automation — and potentially into whether an approval step even needs to be part the process at all.

The details. Process flow maps should be detailed enough to describe a single step in the current processes, but not the individual tasks that comprise that step. For example, a “SOW solution provider onboarding” step would not include the several tasks through SOW requisition creation that comprise that step.

Defect. Across any process step, opportunities exist for something to go right or wrong. These are sometimes referred to as defect opportunities, or, more simply, the various ways a product or service might dissatisfy. For example, the onboarding step would most often be expected to take a set number of days, so a defect opportunity in the onboarding process would be the process taking too long.

SIPOC+. There are a number of formal process improvement techniques that can serve to be very useful in this effort, such as SIPOC+, which is a process improvement tool that summarizes the inputs and outputs of one or more processes in table form. (The acronym SIPOC stands for suppliers, inputs, process, outputs, and customers, which form the columns of a table. It is used in total quality management Six Sigma and Lean manufacturing improvement initiatives.)

The “Plus” component of a SIPOC mapping process analyses are additional process improvement steps that can be taken once one can observe and improve the current and understood, visible process.

Codify the process. Once you have established well-defined, informative and useful CW program process maps, you would want to leverage complementary management tools such as SOPs and ROEs to codify the execution of the process flows in the CW Program.

SOPs, effectively deployed, reinforce the proper execution of process flow elements, without having to read a novel to understand what and how to effectively complete the process.

An ROE, meanwhile, inventories the CW program policies and rules on how to execute or participate in a particular component or process of the CW Program. This is a great tool to house the current rate card or performance scorecard and other important CW program policy information. One might curate a separate ROE for different CW program constituents: one for engagement managers, staffing partners and contingent workers. Process maps are primarily internal program management and communication tools, where SOPs and ROEs are external program management tools.

At the end of the day, process maps are CW program management power tools that not only support operations but also support the evolutionary value that the CW program will deliver in the future. Process maps support strong policy governance, which help ensure a CW program is keeping an eye on opportunities to improve processes,  which should most certainly be reviewed annually.