How to Find Gaps and Inefficiencies in Your Processes

05 Sep 2023


In today’s competitive business environment, companies must adapt and change faster than ever. While many are turning to process improvement campaigns, a system must be in place to find workflow gaps and inefficiencies. Without this vital step, organizations can overlook many potential problems.

Finding gaps and inefficiencies early allows your teams to be proactive in fixing them. Knowing where problems exist within your repeatable business activities is necessary for your company to avoid lost productivity—resulting in unhappy customers, employee turnover, and higher costs.

Here are seven strategies for finding gaps and efficiencies in your processes.  You’ll also discover the most common problems to look for within your organization.

1. Process Mapping

Process mapping involves diagramming tasks within your organization, providing a clearer picture of your daily workflows than merely listing them. It identifies the departments and personnel responsible for each task and details timelines for completing them.

Process mapping shows where your processes begin and end, highlights individual roles and tasks, and identifies possible handoffs between departments. By getting a bird’s eye view of your company’s workflows, you can decide which processes are working, and which need to be revised or replaced.

2. Gap Analysis

A gap analysis is a method of identifying the difference between the current state of your organization and your stated goals or objectives. Process gap analysis reveals problems in your workflow processes, such as silos, redundancy, and bottlenecks.

For example, an equipment supplier might perform a gap analysis on their fulfillment processes to see why it takes so long to get products to their customers.

Comparing current outcomes with stated goals gives companies a starting point for their process improvement campaigns.

Gap analysis measures results against defined goals, benchmarks, and expected outcomes. It can either be strategic or operational:

  • Strategic gap analysis examines the company’s overall mission and organizational values, which are most often covered by policies and standards.
  • Operational gap analysis focuses on the daily tasks of the workforce, which requires well-written process documentation.

Gap analysis works for policies or procedures, one at a time or simultaneously. For example, you may discover a lack of policies or standards during operational gap analysis. You may also find areas where work is being duplicated or where employees are unsure of who is responsible for a certain task.

Conversely, you may find very little process documentation to support your policies or standards during a strategic gap analysis. Working on both at the same time is possible if you have the right teams in place.

Using Flowcharts and Diagrams

Gap analysis typically involves creating a flowchart or diagram illustrating each step of a process. By visually mapping out the process steps, companies can identify areas of confusion or places where process adjustments would make the workflow run more smoothly.

3. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Key performance indicators (KPIs) measure the effectiveness of your current processes. Examples include:

  • Quality
  • Error rate
  • Turnaround time
  • Cost
  • Customer satisfaction

KPIs provide a single source of information concerning your company’s performance. Each indicator (or metric) compares how your workflow processes perform now and where you want them to be. KPIs allow you to set goals, create a strategy to reach those goals, and evaluate performance at all levels.

To utilize KPIs for finding process gaps and inefficiencies, you must first set goals for each process and define the metrics you want to track. Then, establish KPI targets. For example:

  • 10% error rate
  • < 50% close rate
  • 500 site visitors per day
  • >2 injuries per month

Track KPIs regularly using a spreadsheet program or KPI-tracking software, such as HubSpot or SimpleKPI. The frequency will depend on the type of metrics you use. For example, you can track injury reports monthly, whereas social media results are often tracked hourly.

4. Process Documentation

You’ll often discover gaps and inefficiencies while creating your process documentation, including standard operating procedures (SOPs) and work instructions. Problems can show up long after you’ve mapped your workflows and completed a gap analysis.

Finding gaps and inefficiencies while writing your process documentation is not a bad thing. Cecile Brule, technical writer for The Writers for Hire, says documenting workflows forces everyone in a company to talk to each other. The writing process identifies gaps and inefficiencies you may not otherwise notice unless you closely examine your existing procedures.

Creating process documentation allows departments to compare notes on how they interact and where tasks are most likely to be handed off.

By documenting each step of a process as well as who is responsible for completing each step, companies can more easily identify areas where there are gaps.

Additionally, process documentation ensures that everyone is on the same page when it comes to who is responsible for each task within a process.

Effective communication is the key to optimal handoffs between departments. Having written procedures in place will ensure everyone knows what to do when it’s their turn to take over a project or task.


5. Process Testing

Process testing involves coordinating teams of workers to provide feedback on the usefulness of a policy, standard, or workflow task. Testing ensures that even your newest team members know what’s expected of them. It also provides insight into areas where your procedures could improve or need revision.

It’s best to have a plan for testing your procedures. Test one process at a time and include specific information on the testing form, such as:

  • Department
  • Name of tester
  • Date and time
  • Test duration
  • Specific process tested

The best team for testing is usually a neutral party not involved with writing the procedure. Use surveys to receive feedback from as many sources as possible. Distribute the procedures via a survey tool or utilize your company’s website or intranet.

Use open-ended questions, so users can describe their experience. Analyze the responses and adjust the procedure based on:

  • Ease of use
  • Language and clarity
  • Operational relevance
  • Overall user experience

6. Process Monitoring

Monitor your processes regularly. Conduct roundtable discussions with managers and supervisors concerning what’s working and what needs to be adjusted. In addition, conducting short employee surveys incorporated into company newsletters, training videos, and flyers will help monitor and track process performance.

Monitoring keeps employees engaged in the process. It brings everyone on board with the new procedures and facilitates change management strategies. Continuous monitoring conveys to stakeholders that process testing, development, and training are vital to your company’s culture.

7. Employee Training

Finding process gaps during employee training is common. For example, a new hire may object to a procedure forbidden at their previous job. Others may point to a lack of written communication that leads to gaps in their training and inability to perform their jobs.

Managers can also help find gaps and inefficiencies while training their teams.

When performing evaluations at a worksite, they could discover that current procedures are outdated or non-existent.

All these scenarios raise valid issues, so it’s wise to heed employee concerns regarding workflow processes.

Then, if you can verify those problems using one of the other techniques, it’s time to consider re-writing your procedures.

Problems To Look for in Your Processes

Procedural issues can arise for even the most well-organized companies. Here are some problems to look for when mapping, using, and monitoring your workflow processes.


Silos form as your company grows and managers become more specialized. They develop a sense of pride in their departments and become more competitive over time. Teams distrust rival departments, and communication breaks down within your organizational structure.

While the obvious solution is fostering teamwork throughout your company, adequate process documentation is essential. Silos often occur because there is no set procedure for performing a specific task, and departments quarrel over:

  • Whose job it is to complete the task
  • The correct method for the task
  • When the task is supposed to get done
  • Who’s responsible for sign-off

Having documented procedures in place answers all these questions. They serve as the single point of truth for individuals to refer to when performing specific tasks.


Like bottlenecks that can slow down traffic on a highway, process bottlenecks can cause production to slow down or stop altogether. For example, when the only person who manages payroll discrepancies leaves for a week, it can keep the rest of your HR department from working on hiring projects.

While that’s a simple example, long-term bottlenecks can present a much greater challenge. For example, recurring IT problems without documented solutions can cause worker frustration, customer service issues, and lost revenue.


Unnecessary steps and process duplication create redundancies between departments. They slow down progress and create confusion throughout your company.

The best way to combat redundancies is to bring all teams together when writing your processes. An experienced writing agency can help with this vital task. Having outside project managers, technical writers, and editors documenting your processes will help bridge the divide between warring departments and provide unbiased feedback at all project benchmarks.


Alignment is when team members know how to execute tasks within their assigned position. Your organization becomes misaligned when no written procedures are in place to guide employees on what to do.

The best way to prevent misalignment is with effective internal communication, including:

  • Policies
  • Standards
  • Work instructions
  • Corporate communications

By effectively communicating with every team member in your organization, you are more likely to reach your goals and experience fewer mishaps along the way.


Process documentation is vital to organizations seeking maximum workflow efficiency, optimal safety outcomes, and an improved bottom line. The documentation process starts with finding gaps and inefficiencies within your organization. Strategies include:

  • Process mapping
  • Gap analysis
  • KPI management
  • Document creation
  • Process testing
  • Monitoring
  • Training

Here are the problems you can uncover:

  • Bottlenecks
  • Silos
  • Redundancies
  • Misalignment

By discovering gaps and inefficiencies early on, your organization can hire a writing agency to document your workflows. And having the proper written procedures in place helps prevent the same problems from recurring.

Steve Epperson 

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