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Process Mapping was developed in GE, later many other leading service and product firms around the globe – IBM, NASA, Exxon etc., joined the bandwagon and reaped astounding results. Process mapping is an activity of modeling common business functions, to understand how they work and to identify ways to improve them. It is often related to operations, where shop floor activities are thoroughly studied and the required improvements are undertaken by eliminating the wasteful ones. The initiative starts with the study of current processes in place, followed by identifying and eliminating the non-value added activities and finally, setting up new integrated process paradigm for systems to work efficiently and effectively. Thus, process mapping gives a frame of reference for identifying what changes are to be made and finally forming a common understanding on how the new processes are likely to work.
Even though process mapping is commonly associated with the ill famed reengineering (also known as Business Process Reengineering, BPR), it is still gaining grounds in the corporate world. The reasons are manifolds:
Worldwide technological improvements are creating new business opportunities that require new processes to assure reliable and consistent outputs. Process mapping comes handy as a great tool for understanding how the various business activities interact with the central database. The technique becomes quintessential for implementing innovative technologies. Process mapping can be used as an alternative tool for having incremental process improvement projects and thus saving organizations from going for radical second order changes.
HR Process Mapping
Surprisingly, process mapping can be used in myriad situations and ways. Crossing its traditional boundaries of shop floor, the concept is now making inroads into the HR function. A HR process map describes the people and the sequence of activities involved in a particular HR process. Often, HR process maps are focused around issues, such as the hiring of employees, regular payroll processing, and other transactional and transformational functions. HR process maps can describe existing (“as is”) processes and also can depict the normative (“to be”) processes to be established. The maps are invaluable in establishing a common understanding of tasks, roles, and loopholes within a process.
As already mentioned, process maps help in measuring the efficiency of a process and the opportunities for gains that can be reaped by redesigning the processes. Detailed process maps determine who takes each step, the sequence and timing of steps, the documents and systems involved, and then remove activities that are likely to cause time lags, errors, and wasted resources. Detailed, “as is” process maps reveal the following hidden booby traps:
Bottlenecks in the system Redundant steps Steps causing long cycle times (throughput time) Steps with high erroneousness Mundane and paper-intensive steps that can be automated, etc.
Thus analysis of process gaps allows identification of the root causes, understand their frequency, and determine the efforts required in resolving them. The HR process maps provide comprehensive details about each process and help the executives to ponder upon the following questions to ascertain the facts:
Are the right employees doing the right jobs in the process? (Or in words of Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great” – are the correct people aboard the ship?) Does the process flow freely? If not, what are the causes of hassles? What amount of remolding is needed? What is the throughput time of the process? Can any of the sequential steps take place simultaneously? That is without repetition. Where does the critical links between the departments exist (e.g., payroll and finance or accounts)? Can these be altered or eased? How is the communication with customer during the process? Is it up to the mark from customer’s perspective? Process mapping analysis aid HR executives to identify opportunities for higher gains, better HR inventory management and improved results. Apart from these, the HR Process maps help in: Streamlining the business processes for effective use of resources and technology; Being an effective tool for communicating process changes to key stakeholders including customers, vendors, employees, consultants, etc. Influencing employees in making substantial changes in behavior to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
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