Four people involved in process mapping brainstoriming using a whiteboard and postiks notes to create process flows

Process mapping is a powerful technique that enables a business to represent its workflow in a structured manner visually. This involves breaking down the entire process into steps, each with its responsibilities and expected outcomes. The ultimate objective of process mapping is to provide a clear roadmap that leads to the desired result, thereby facilitating efficient and accurate task execution. This map should encompass all pertinent information, such as data, activities, materials, and personnel, to ensure the process is streamlined, organized, and effective.

Are you curious about the benefits of business process mapping and how it can help your company? If so, you’re in the right place! In this article, we’ll dive into the exciting world of process mapping and explore the typical steps involved. So, let’s get started!

What is process mapping?

Process mapping is a visual depiction of workflow and a process map that can support business planning and process management. It shows a sequence of events that lead to a result and is created using process mapping software and support process fit gap analysis. Multiple names, such as flowchart, process flowchart, process chart, process organization structure, functional process chart, functional flowchart, business process model, process workflow diagram, business flow diagram, or process flow diagram refer to the process map. It identifies the individuals and components involved in a process and applies to any business or organization. Business leaders and process improvement teams can use it to enhance the process by highlighting the areas of improvement.

Four people involved in process mapping brainstoriming using a whiteboard and postiks notes to create process flows

Visualizing the linear sequence of activities can help identify bottlenecks and unnecessary steps in a business process.

Image Source: Canva

Who uses process mapping?

Businesses can be identified by their business processes, which occur at all levels, from small startups to large global organizations. Efficient and seamless business processes are essential to success and are crucial for any business to survive. It is vital first to understand these processes to optimize and improve them. Process mapping can be highly beneficial as it provides an end-to-end understanding.

The reason for creating process maps

Organizations and businesses utilize process mapping to enhance their efficiency. By offering a clear view of the process, process maps facilitate idea generation for process improvement, promote communication, and document the process. Process mapping enables the identification of bottlenecks, repetition, and delays. It also helps establish process boundaries, determine ownership and responsibilities, and define effectiveness measures or metrics.

It helps you to understand a process and touchpoints better.

Process mapping is a valuable tool for better comprehending a process. The flowchart below illustrates how process mapping can help map out a process and identify areas to enhance a process. The process depicted in the chart is hiring (example from SmartDraw), typically within human resource management or for small businesses looking to scale operations. While this is a simplistic example of process mapping, various business operations employ comparable diagrams to understand procedures and enhance process efficiency. Such departments may include sales, marketing, accounting, finance, supply chain, and operations.

Hiring process flowchart example

Here is an example of a process workflow

Image: SmartDraw – SmartDraw hiring process flowchart example

Process mapping benefits

Process mapping is a technique that helps to identify and eliminate waste, simplify work processes, and enhance comprehension. Rather than composing lengthy instructions, process mapping enables you to convey the crucial aspects of a process visually. Flowcharts and process maps serve various purposes, such as enhancing comprehension of a process, evaluating opportunities for process improvement, demonstrating how a function is executed, promoting communication among stakeholders engaged in the same process, creating process documentation, and organizing project planning.

Utilizing process maps can simplify projects and save time by creating and accelerating the project design process. Process maps offer effective visual communication of ideas, information, and data for better comprehension. They also aid in problem-solving and decision-making by identifying issues and potential solutions. Process maps can be constructed quickly and economically while using symbols that are easy to understand, breaking down processes into steps. They also reveal detailed connections and sequences, displaying an entire process from beginning to end. By understanding the critical characteristics of a process, process maps provide valuable data that can be used in problem-solving. Strategically asking essential questions helps improve any function with the help of process maps. 

Process mapping types

Communicating your process to others is the primary purpose of process mapping. Process maps can help you create a more robust understanding of your process. The different types of process maps commonly used include:

  • An Activity Process Map represents value-added and non-value-added activities in a process.
  • The Detailed Process Map presents a comprehensive view of every single step involved in the process.
  • The concept of a Document Map is centered around the idea that documents serve as both the inputs and outputs of a given process.
  • A High-Level Process Map involves Supplier, Input, Process, Output, and Customer (SIPOC) interactions.
  • The depiction of process flow as a present or anticipated map is called a Rendered Process Map. It is utilized to pinpoint areas for process enhancement.
  • The Swimlane map, or the Cross-functional map, divides the sub-process responsibilities within a particular process.
  • The Value-Added Chain Diagram consists of disconnected boxes depicting a simplified process for easy comprehension.
  • The Value Stream Map is a technique used in lean management to scrutinize and enhance the processes vital to manufacturing a product or delivering a service to a customer.
  • A work process illustrated in a “flow” format that does not employ Unified Modeling Language (UML) symbols is known as a workflow diagram.

It’s essential to clearly understand processes to improve efficiency, identify areas for improvement, and solve problems effectively.

Symbols for process mapping.

Process mapping involves vital elements such as actions, activity steps, decision points, functions, inputs/outputs, people involved, process measurements, and time required. Basic symbols such as an arrow, circle, diamond, box, oval, or rectangle are used in a process map to describe each element. Process maps can be created using symbols from the Unified Modeling Language (UML), an internationally recognized standard.

Business process mapping

In business, a process refers to a sequence of interconnected tasks initiated by an event to produce a desired outcome for the customer. The process mapping tool is a highly versatile technique that business leaders and improvement teams can use effectively across various areas of the organization. Its key strength is its ability to represent complex processes and workflows through diagrams and charts visually. This makes it an indispensable tool for organizations striving to optimize their operations and enhance productivity.

Process mapping provides a clear and concise understanding of the interrelationships between the different stages of a process. Doing so enables businesses to identify inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and opportunities for improvement. This makes it an invaluable asset for companies seeking to boost their operational efficiency, optimize resource allocation, and improve overall performance.

Given its effectiveness and versatility, process mapping has become a widely adopted technique by organizations of all sizes across various industry sectors. By leveraging this technique, businesses can gain a competitive edge by enhancing their ability to deliver high-quality products and services to their customers while improving their bottom-line performance.

When to use process mapping?

Some examples include business process redesign, process improvement, re-engineering, quality improvement, training, simulation, documentation, process analysis, information technology, process integration, operational process design, acquisitions, mergers, and selling business operations. Business process mapping can help organizations comply with manufacturing and service industry regulations, including the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) or other relevant laws.

handwritten text of process mapping by a woman using a notebook.

Mapping your processes can help identify bottlenecks, redundancies, and automation opportunities for maximum efficiency.

Image Source: Canva

Creating a process map

The software has made process mapping more efficient, providing a better comprehension of processes. Process maps can be created by following a few simple steps.

  1. Firstly, determine the purpose and scope of the process. 
  2. Next, identify the steps involved in the process and the inputs and outputs of each step. 
  3. Use symbols to represent the steps and decision points in the process. 
  4. Connect the symbols to show the flow of the process. 
  5. Review and validate the process map with stakeholders. 
  6. Finally, use the process map to identify areas for improvement and optimize the process.

Although Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel are standard programs for creating process maps, other more specialized programs exist. Microsoft also has a flowchart software, Visio, that is easy to use with other business applications. Process mapping aims to communicate your process to others to achieve management objectives. Knowing process mapping will improve communication and comprehension within your organization.

Business process mapping steps

Following a process mapping approach can be incredibly helpful to streamline your business processes. To get started, you’ll want to follow the steps outlined below. With this method, you can ensure that all aspects of your operation are clearly defined and that you can identify areas for improvement. So why not give it a try? These simple steps can help you take your business to the next level!

Step 1 – Map out the focus area or problem

The initial step in creating a process map for your business is to identify the particular issue that needs to be resolved. Record the name of the process and keep track of it in your master register.

Step 2 – List the process activities.

In the second step, you should brainstorm the activities in your process workflow. Although sequencing the process steps is unnecessary, it can help you recall the actions required for your process. You need to decide the level of detail to incorporate in your process workflow. It is crucial to determine which department is responsible for which activity, which job role is responsible for completing the task, and when or how frequently the job role should do the action.

Step 3 – Know when to start and end the process

For effective process mapping, establish the limits.

    • What is the starting point of the process?
    • What is the endpoint of the process?

Step 4 – Correctly sequence the process steps and activities

To establish a precise sequence of process steps, beginning the description with a verb is recommended. The process mapping description can either illustrate the overall flow or each specific action and decision.

Step 5 – Use flowchart symbols or process mapping software to create your workflows

Use specific flowchart symbols to represent each element to create a process map. If you are not keen on Visio, then Lucidchart offers a user-friendly process mapping software that allows you to add and rearrange shapes easily and include labels, comments, and custom styling in your process map. For instance, creating a hiring process flowchart, as shown in the example above, is easy with SmartDraw’s pre-made templates. You can modify the baseline template or create your custom template to match your unique hiring approval process and add links to your internal hiring forms and interview schedules to customize it further.

    • To start using process mapping, you must use some of the shapes and symbols previously discussed in the article. Ovals indicate the beginning or end of a process in a process map. Rectangles represent an operation or activity that needs to be performed. Arrows depict the direction flow, while diamonds show a point where a decision must be made. Yes or no arrows usually come out of a diamond. An activity box should only have one arrow coming out of it; if more are needed, it would be appropriate to use a decision diamond. Finally, a parallelogram shows inputs or outputs in the process map.

Step 6 – involves finalizing the process flowchart.

It’s important to seek consensus by reviewing the chart with stakeholders such as team members, workers, supervisors, suppliers, and customers. Don’t forget to include vital chart information like a title and date for easy reference. To ensure success, ask helpful questions such as whether the process is being executed properly, if team members will follow the charted process, if everyone agrees with the process map flow, whether any steps are redundant, and if any actions are missing.

To summarise, visually displaying the steps involved in a business process, from beginning to end, is called business process mapping. This type of mapping provides a clear and concise picture of the necessary steps to bring a product, service, or process to completion and the order in which those steps must occur.

Better project engagement by using process mapping

Are you tired of complex processes that hinder your project progress? Well, process improvement can be a game-changer! And what’s even better? You can simplify the whole process using process maps. These visual descriptions give you a comprehensive overview of important information, making it easier to identify areas of improvement. It’s like having your treasure map lead you to the gold pot at the end of the rainbow. Process maps promote collaboration and better understanding among team members, making your project a genuine team effort. So, if you’re working on a complex project involving multiple stakeholders, using process maps can significantly enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of your project. Let’s get mapping!

What is the rationale behind investing time in mapping business processes?

Process mapping is valuable for businesses in various scenarios, such as preparing for audits or sales or measuring and realigning people’s efforts. The following are some of the reasons why companies choose to map their processes:

  1. It helps to ensure that everyone involved in the process has a clear understanding of it.
  2. It eliminates the procedures’ bottlenecks, errors, and redundancies.
  3. Identifying inefficiencies and repetitions enables organizations to optimize their business processes.
  4. Process mapping helps build cross-functional understanding between different business areas.
  5. It promotes internal collaboration and cooperation between teams.
  6. Identifying extras and gaps in the process helps to reduce waste.
  7. Standardization of processes through process mapping is essential for internal audits and compliance with policies and regulations.

Process mapping helps you with continuous improvement.

If you want to keep your business thriving for the long haul, then you need to put in the effort to optimize and improve your operational processes consistently. But where do you start? Well, a critical first step is to dig deep and gain a comprehensive understanding of each process. This means breaking it down into its tasks and analyzing them in detail. By doing this, you can pinpoint areas where you can make targeted improvements that boost efficiency, reduce costs, and increase your overall performance. Continuous process improvement is essential if you want to build a sustainable business. The best way to achieve this is by having a rock-solid foundation of knowledge and understanding about your processes.

Having a well-defined process is necessary for:

  • Prioritizing tasks that align with larger business goals
  • Optimizing resource utilization
  • Establishing a clear communication path between people, processes, and systems
  • Organizing day-to-day operations
  • Clarifying accountability of roles
  • Standardizing processes and systems

Critical business processes that should be considered include Human Resources, Procurement, Supply Chain, Inventory Management, Sales, Marketing, Finance, and Accounting (Payables and Receivables).

Process mapping can help you streamline your workflow and increase productivity by identifying inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and opportunities for improvement. Process mapping can be a game changer whether you want to improve a system or a particular process. So why not try it today and see how it can transform your business?

About Noirwolf

Looking for expert management consultancy services to help your business grow and thrive? Look no further than Noirwolf, located in the vibrant city of Leeds, United Kingdom. Our team of seasoned consultants is here to offer tailored solutions to businesses that require senior-level business consulting on specific global projects or a retained basis. Our range of services includes business strategy and transformation consulting, which covers areas such as strategy development, organization development, and setting up management reporting systems to manage business performance. We work closely with you to identify your business’s challenges and provide customized solutions that align with your objectives. Our collaborative and client-focused approach ensures successful implementation, and our consultants always offer guidance and support whenever needed. So, why wait? Contact us today to discover how Noirwolf can help your company reach its goals and achieve new heights of success.

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