Process mapping is making me a better leader. I am using it to critically think about how I manage my marketing and web design projects. Outlining these processes holds me accountable to deliver my best efforts, and it’s helped me to recognize when and where I need to delegate.
Example 1: Web Design Projects (Lesson Learned: Delegation)
Web design projects (done the right way) involve a lot of moving parts. These are just a few examples of the tasks involved:
- Budgets and deadlines are tight. There is usually a set time frame to complete a new web design, and you have to manage that time against all of the other projects you’re working on.
- You need to get approval from the client at various stages of the project before moving forward to the next steps. Before you begin work, you need an approved proposal in hand. Before you begin coding the website, you and the client need to agree on the design aspects. And finally, the client needs to review the website and approve it before officially launching.
- Quality assurance is imperative. You need to test links, view the website in different browsers and devices, and make sure it will show up in search engine results.
- Most importantly, the project manager and project stakeholders need to remain in constant communication.
When we started using ProcessPlan internally at Nexxtep, I started out by mapping out all of these tasks. By doing this, I was forced to enumerate the dozens of tasks involved with a website design project. Then, I laid out the order of these tasks and brought in David, our developer, and Mandy, our project admin to talk about our roles. We went through each task and reviewed who should be responsible for what. The process of assigning tasks made all of us think about who was best suited to handle each aspect of the project. I have problems delegating, but when I outlined tasks in ProcessPlan, it became clear that it didn’t make sense for me to take on every task. For example, it makes much more sense for our David to setup the website on our hosting servers than it does for me to do so. It also makes sense for our Mandy to conduct quality assurance. David and I stare at a client’s new website day in and day out, and we become blind to the errors that might otherwise be glaring to someone viewing it with fresh eyes. After setting up these assignments (which we all agreed on ahead of time), the delegation is automated from now on. I don’t have to think about asking David to setup the hosting account, or Mandy to conduct QA; ProcessPlan does it for me.
Example 2: Trade Show Planning (Lesson Learned: Accountability)
Nexxtep and/or ProcessPlan exhibits at several trade shows throughout the year. While juggling several plates in the air, these events tend to sneak up on me. Again, there are lots of moving parts.
This is just a basic summary of the steps involved with trade show planning:
- Reserve event space
- Order inventory (booth swag, promotional flyers, giveaways, etc.)
- Determine key strategy and messaging
- Set specific event goals
- Make hotel/air travel reservations
- Review event performance after the trade show is over
Some of these tasks are administrative (1,2,5) and some are strategic (3,4,6). It’s easy to get caught up in the administrative details even though the strategic tasks are actually much more important in terms of gaining value from the event. Strategic tasks are easy to forget, because there is no tangible “instant gratification." There is nothing to stock up on, nothing to reserve. No fires to put out.
I researched best practices for trade show planning (again, a task I would not have taken on had it not been for mapping this process). Then, I setup an outline of tasks (both strategic and administrative) and built them out in ProcessPlan.
We are attending the AICPA Tech+ Conference in June. The planning for this event has gone much smoother than any other trade show. Here are some things I have noticed:
- I started planning much sooner. Once the process is kicked off in ProcessPlan, the event was highlighted in my inbox every day, making it almost impossible to forget about. I had plenty of time to create and evaluate graphics and promotional materials.
- We have devoted more time to messaging. Since I have all of my administrative tasks mapped out and chugging along smoothly, I have been able to sit down with our executive team and craft a consistent, relatable message for our audience and incorporate that message into all materials.
- The budget can’t hide. Costs can creep up on you when you’re planning any kind of event. Having to document all event-related costs will prove very useful once it’s time to review the post-show results. We can talk about what worked, what didn’t, and allocate our next budget accordingly.
The main lesson here, of course, is accountability. The little tasks don’t fall through the cracks, and the big ones don’t get forgotten.
Side Lesson: Goal Documentation
This isn’t exactly a news flash, but writing down your goals actually does wonders in helping you achieve them. Once I realized how well ProcessPlan was helping me improve my day-to-day productivity and insight, I dusted off an old Goals workbook I had abandoned years ago. There are several things I have been wanting to do (publish more blog posts, lose that extra few pounds, start a daily meditation practice), but I never got started. With the goals workbook, I write everything down and hold myself accountable every day. I think about the numbers involved, too. For example, I want us to publish more blog posts. Businesses that blog often get more website traffic and more leads than businesses that don’t. But “more” isn’t quantifiable. I decided that we need to publish 25 blog posts in 12 weeks. That’s about two posts per week. It's definitely doable, but I haven’t been writing anywhere near that much lately. Thanks to my conscious goal-setting practice, I have written 5 blog posts (for Nexxtep, ProcessPlan and myself) in the last 2.5 weeks.
What are some of the daily processes you can improve? Think about it, and start your own process mapping adventure!