Still mapping HR processes? Why you should stop

Helen Armstrong

CEO & Founder



Process mapping may be a tried and tested way of documenting HR process flows within an organisation, but in the age of the user, is this really still relevant for HR?

Before we can answer that question, let’s look at what we mean by the phrase ‘HR process mapping’.

“A structured method for documenting process flow, a process map shows your touch points with other processes, resources and people.” (MHR).

Documenting and mapping processes enables HR to understand what currently works well, what needs to change in order to meet future business needs, how each process varies for different employee types and, in the light of any changes, what the impact of these would be.

This is all vital stuff; yet focusing on processes only gives us a part of the picture, after all, it isn’t processes that make companies successful, it’s people. Processes are simply there to help them maximise productivity and realise their true potential.

Process mapping’s ‘inside-out’ approach tends to focus on how HR currently compares to best practice with the aim of aligning future processes to this.

In today’s workplace however, a more customer-centric ‘outside-in’ approach is needed: one where HR is moulded based on the needs of its customers.


Following the User Journey

According to digital HR tech, an employee journey is “the time an employee spends at a company, starting when the employee applies to the organization and ending when the employee quits the organisation.”

Their experience of an organisation is made up by all of those interactions or touch-points that take place between starting and ending their employment, from on-boarding to leaving.

Mapping user journeys rather than processes helps to ensure a holistic view of people, process, and technology - rooted in actual customer experience. It also allows HR to gather insights into an employee’s experience and mindset upon progressing through each stage of their journey.


Let’s look at an example journey for a new starter. There are a number of key actions involved, from issuing and completing new starter documents, entering this data into the HRIS, obtaining references, and ordering IT equipment; to processing the new starter on payroll and arranging induction.

Start by documenting each part of the journey, who is responsible for which? Who else impacts this? What is the impact if a step is missed? What are the fallbacks?

Think about what the user needs and expects from each stage in this process? How easy is it for the customer to achieve this outcome with the current processes that are in place? Bear in mind that our employees now live in a digital world where they can interact online and in real time.

To help, you should conduct in-depth focus groups and interviews with users as well as with senior leadership to delve deeper into how the user feels about each element of this journey. Is it positive, neutral, negative?

Then identify the pain points at each stage of this journey – do the same pain points exist for all parties? Remember, users are likely to have very different experiences based on their interactions and role within the company.

Going ‘beyond HR’ will often provide very different perspectives – forcing HR teams to be more customer-centric and prompting them to think differently about future design and communications.

Getting the best from your focus groups and documenting user journeys ‘right’, can be quite an undertaking.

Download our free top tips guide, complete with free user journey template for you to edit and use.


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