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Using Lean Process Mapping in Shared Services

Having formal methods for process reengineering and process improvement are core requirements for any Shared Services organization.  With many methodologies to select from, formal Lean Process Mapping may not be the first tool selected. However, in many instances, the positive impact of completing a formal process mapping exercise is well worth the effort.

An interactive PeercastTM discussion in our Shared Services Leadership research area featured a large company that has implemented Global Shared Services using a multi-functional model with six centers located across the globe.  To optimize the design of complex global end-to-end work processes the company uses Lean Process Mapping extensively.

During the discussion, the member company described its approach and provided attendees with specific examples of actual work documents.  Here is a brief summary:  To complete the process map, subject matter experts in each part of the process participate in group meetings where participants are physically seated to approximate the order of the process flow.  Using a neutral facilitator, the first step is to agree on a charter for the process optimization project, followed by discussions between attendees to map out the process flow steps and dependencies. 

Interestingly, simply engaging various subject matter experts in a discussion of an end-to-end process yields significant benefits for participants to better understand the full process, with a greater appreciation for the impact that each step has on others.  Opportunities for improvement are noted and issues are identified for resolution.  An important insight is that the power of process mapping is not the “map”, rather it’s the collaboration and relationship building that takes place between participants who share a common objective.

A supporting iPollingTM question asked member companies to comment on the status of using Lean Process Mapping in their Shared Services organization.  Not surprisingly, 52% have implemented this tool, with another 8% with approved plans to use process mapping.  Perhaps most surprising was the fact that 28% of member companies have not yet considered the possibility of using process maps in their reengineering or continuous improvement efforts.  It is likely that after the Peercast many of these companies will now be taking a closer look at this opportunity.

status of using Lean Process Mapping in the company ipolling

For those that currently use Lean Process Mapping, 63% do so as part of an overall formalized Lean methodology throughout Shared Services, and an additional 31% report that they use process mapping as part of an overall formalized Lean methodology for selected processes within Shared Services.

ipolling best description of how the company is utilizing Lean Process Mapping in the shared services organization

Here are a few of the additional comments from iPolling participants:

  • Lean Process Mapping is used as a tool to identify an improvement opportunity once a problem in a process has been identified. We have not deployed a formal process for mapping all processes within Shared Services to identify improvement opportunities.
  • We have been using process mapping in our Accounts Receivable services areas to look for improvements in cash cycle time.
  • Lean Process Mapping was used during a specific project for some functions of Shared Services.
  • Lean Process Mapping is time-consuming when done as an extension of one’s job, and since we don’t have dedicated project resources, we can only attack one item at a time.

What tools does your company use for reengineering or continuous improvement projects?  Are you able to conduct discussions between the various subject matter experts in each part of the process you are targeting for improvement?  Are you using Lean Process Mapping?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?


“PeercastsTM” are private, professionally facilitated webcasts that feature leading member company experiences on specific topics as a catalyst for broader discussion.  Access is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from attending or accessing discussion content.  Members can see who is registered to attend in advance, with discussion recordings, supporting polls, and presentation materials online and available whenever convenient for the member.  Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, attendees can easily communicate at any time with other attending peers by selecting them from the list of registered attendees. 

 “iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility of all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPolling.

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