Function Mapping

What is a Function Map?

While at first glance you may think that a function map resembles an organizational chart, a function map is quite different. To start, a Function Map has a lot more boxes than a typical organizational chart. It will be colourful, and information intense, but it does not contain names. It is a graphic representation of key information regarding the status of the functions of a work unit, department or even a whole organization. Like most maps, a Function Map is rich in information. Typically, it captures the number of FTEs performing particular functions, whether the function is operating at capacity, and how it is measuring up to key performance indicators. It is a tool for managing, priority setting and decision-making, and yet the power of the Function Map rests as much in the process that creates the Function Map as in the graphic display of the process results.

What information is represented by a Function Map?

Function Mapping is a strategy for defining how well an organization’s functions are currently done in terms of what is important to its leaders. Below are attributes our clients typically choose to track on their function maps:

  • Function output
  • Capacity
  • Process analysis
  • Type of function (process, strategic, management)
  • Clear lines of accountability, responsibility, consultation and information (ARCI)
  • Service level agreements
  • Impact on organizational success (critical, important, nice to have)
  • Function productivity
  • Required full-time equivalents (FTEs)
  • Documentation
  • Metrics & report review

What is the Function Mapping Process?

Function mapping involves three key phases: Building the Function Map, Problem Solving & Decision-Making and Taking Action

Building the Function Map:
The organizational leadership is interviewed to identify the area of the organization to be function mapped and to determine the issues or concerns of key importance for supporting decisions. A function mapping workshop is then scheduled with internal subject matter experts on the current performance of the functions to:

  • Define the attributes needed for each function
  • Assess clarity of process and type of function
  • Map each function through tasks
  • Value function: critical, important, nice-to-have, or no value
  • Determine current level of documentation, reporting and metrics
  • Colour-code each function according to status

Problem-solving and decision-making:
The Function Map provides a visual overview of the current status of a group or work unit. The tool enables leaders to determine what the data reveals about the functions, gaps and risks of the organization and prioritize areas requiring action. Leaders are then able to ask key questions:

  • Do the functions collectively align with the organization’s strategic objectives?
  • Do the functions contribute to client expectations?
  • Is the organization delivering value?
  • Are there critical functions that are red (failing or at risk)?

With this information, solution options can be assessed for most probable outcomes and decisions made.

Taking Action:
The final aspect of the Function Mapping Process integrates the Function Map into the management process by setting out accountabilities:

  • Identifying owner of Function Map
  • Scheduling updating of map
  • Posting in visible location
  • Determining if further analysis is required, e.g., process mapping or audits
  • Determining if bench marking or interventions are needed

How the organization takes action may vary according to its needs and priorities. It may adopt talent or operational strategies to move its function status to acceptable internal benchmarks such as:

  • Competency profiles
  • Knowledge management
  • Succession planning
  • Process mapping
  • Documentation standards
  • Job aids
  • Building scorecards
  • Quality improvement
  • Jump start guides

Howatt HR consultants are available to work with organizations to identify the optimal means of addressing the gaps and risks identified in the Function Mapping process to improve performance and move the benchmarks.

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