What Is Process Mapping? A Full Guide to Help You Grasp Everything About It
Know all about process mapping, how it can be beneficial to your organization, and the techniques to create and use process mapping for business requirements.
Have an amazing idea but don’t know where to start? To ensure your ideas come to fruition, you have to first organize them, and then come up with a proper plan. This is where process mapping plays a crucial role. It is similar to a work breakdown structure and very useful in helping identify where you are going wrong and how to improve in certain areas. It is helpful during team brainstorming sessions, making decisions, or planning projects. In this guide, you will find out how process mapping works, tips to create a process map, and the way it can make planning and communication more efficient for your team.
What Is Process Mapping?
To put it in a nutshell, process mapping is the visual representation of a workflow. It ensures that a team is able to better understand how a process works, along with its components. It spares the team members from having to hear lengthy verbal explanations that make little sense. There are different types of process maps, which detail the individual steps within a process, thus identifying task owners and outlining expected time frames. They are extremely helpful when it comes to communicating processes from start to finish among stakeholders, while identifying areas of improvement.
Process maps could be referred to as flowchart, document map, high-level process map, rendered process map, swimlane, value-added chain diagram, value-stream map, flow diagram, process flowchart, process model, or workflow diagram. Process mapping is great when you need to communicate a complex process, tackle a recurring problem within a given process, or coordinate the responsibilities of multiple team members.
Why Is Process Mapping Important to Your Business?
Process mapping allows you to solidify ideas and streamline processes by visually communicating the steps needed to execute an idea. Take a look:
1. Process mapping helps to document the ideal work process clearly – they are comprehensive documents that account for several perspectives. It becomes a centralized resource to record current expectations and update maps as processes change.
2. These maps are evidence of compliance during audits. Maps can be created for risk management and quality control processes too, so you can quickly check for compliance. You can review process maps to identify areas that could be more profitable or efficient. They can be used to evaluate how valuable each step is and what products result from individual actions.
3. A clear and concise process map promotes transparency, enables team members to support each others’ work during periods of absence, and serves as a training module when employees assume responsibility for a new task someone previously handled.
4. Process maps show employees how their work reaches other teams and the customer, thus promoting cross-functionality. It can be vital in understanding how various departments work together to reach a goal.
5. When you face unexpected hurdles, process maps can help reveal inventive solutions due to their visual nature.
6. Existing process maps can be a useful reference for identifying the steps that are most valuable and necessary.
7. Lastly, these maps help to determine how well you have followed your plan. The differences between a process map and your actual actions can help identify areas to improve the next time you repeat the process or perform similar tasks.
Process Mapping Symbols
Process mapping uses symbols from the Unified Modeling Language (UML) – they represent important elements on a process map like steps, decision points, inputs and outputs, and participating team members. Here are the most commonly used ones:
1. Process step – a rectangle denotes a particular process, along with associated activities and functions.
2. Delay – a D-shaped symbol that indicates a delay in the process. It means there is a pause in the process before the flow continues.
3. Flow – an arrow represents both the direction of flow and connection between steps of the process.
4. Data – a parallelogram represents data that is an input or output of a process step.
5. Terminator – an oval indicates the beginning or end points of a process flow.
6. Decision – a diamond represents a point where decisions have to be taken. The process continues by following a predefined path, as per the decision – generally “yes” or “no” options branch from this point.
7. Document – a rectangle with a wavy bottom line represents a document or information that people can read.
8. Manual input – a rectangle with a slanted top line is a step where the data has to be entered manually.
9. Sub-process – this is represented by a rectangle with double vertical lines and indicates a sub-process defined elsewhere.
Types of Process Mapping
It uses process mapping symbols for denoting the inputs and outputs of a process, along with steps required to complete it. It is apt for planning new projects, improving communication, modeling and documenting processes, solving problems, and analyzing and managing workflows.
These are referred to as cross-functional flowcharts, and apt for indicating relationships between various teams. They delegate process activities into “swimlanes” to designate who is responsible for each task. The swimlane diagrams can illustrate how a process flows across, making it convenient to spot redundancies and bottlenecks.
High-level process map
Known as a top-down map or value chain map, it offers a high-level overview of a process. Steps are limited to the essentials of the process and the map includes minimal detail.
Detailed process map
This map displays a drill-downed version of a process, containing details around any subprocesses. You get a thorough understanding and can identify areas of inefficiency due to its high level of detail.
Value stream map
It is an excellent management tool that visualizes the process of bringing a product or service to the customer. Value stream maps tend to be complex and use a unique system of symbols to illustrate the flow of information and materials necessary to the process.
Rendered process map
They represent a current state and/or future state processes to show areas for potential process improvement.
Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN)
It is a standardized language perfect for situations that have to be molded into processes to rectify errors and exceptions.
This type of mapping breaks the process down into the following sections – suppliers, input, process, output, and customers.
How to Create a Process Map?
Step 1: Identify a problem or process
Determine the process you have to map out. For instance, it could an inefficient process requiring more improvement, or an entirely new process you wish to communicate to your team clearly.
Step 2: Mention the activities involved
It is imperative to document all tasks needed to finish the process, along with which team member is responsible for what. Make sure you collaborate with team members and other stakeholders so you can precisely account for all steps required, determine the level of detail needed, and establish where the process starts and ends.
Step 3: Detail the sequence of steps
After compiling the list of activities, you have to arrange them in the correct sequence, till the entire process is represented from start to finish. This is where you can check for gaps missed in the earlier step.
Step 4: Use process mapping symbols to draw a flowchart
You have to choose the right process mapping technique to represent the process, by indicating each step with appropriate mapping symbols.
Step 5: Finalize and share the map
After you are done drawing the process map, review it with team members and stakeholders to ensure everyone understands and agrees with how the process is mapped. No steps should be left out, and there can’t be any redundancies or ambiguities.
Step 6: Analyze to identify areas of improvement
After you establish that the process map accurately describes the process workflow, your completed map now serves as a tool you can analyze to discover ways of improving the process. Get feedback from the team to find out areas where there could be bottlenecks and inefficiencies. Once you identify areas of improvement, take steps to fix and rework the process map.
MioCreate works perfectly when it comes to streamlining your workflow and customizing process maps as per your business requirements. It offers a dedicated and collaborative platform to build and improve business processes through process mapping automation. Documentation, analyzing, and improving processes become very easy, making it convenient for teams to collaborate in real-time via an intuitive and accessible interface.
Process Mapping Templates & Examples
You can easily customize process maps to match your requirements and preferences, but there are some general tips that can be applied to process mapping templates. For instance, to create a regular B2B sales process map, you have to do the following:
1. Establish boundaries of the process to ensure only relevant information are included.
2. Set clear-cut objectives of the process, which in this case, is closing the deal.
3. Map processes that have a defined and objective output.
4. Sub-processes should be simple. For example, you generate leads, conduct thorough research on the prospect, pitch to them and then check if they have objections. Do they have objections before closing the deal? If no, close the deal right away, and if yes, then resolve those objections and close the deal.
5. Work backward from output to input.
6. Include all necessary details and use standardized notation so everyone is on the same page.
7. It is necessary to include feedback from everyone involved in the process.
8. Detail alternative routes to meeting a preferred condition where applicable.
9. Don’t forget to map the process in its existing state – it doesn’t have to be perfect immediately, as there is always room for improvement.
Nothing can drive a business to the ground faster than disorganized and vague processes. With the right platform like MioCreate, you can start mapping and managing processes to achieve clear communication and improved efficiency among team members and stakeholders. You will notice that chaotic situations, redundancies, delays, lack of accountability, etc. are drastically reduced. To sum up, process mapping is integral for boosting efficiency in your organization, as it is an incredible tool to document and improve processes. It can grant clarity and control over processes, minimize bottlenecks and mistakes, establish operational norms, eliminate redundancies, and boost compliance with industry standards.