The Ultimate Guide to Business Process Mapping
Business process mapping (BPM) has helped businesses map out their workflow processes from start to finish. It is the tool used to visualize the steps taken by a business to deliver a product or service and has become one of the best methods for maintaining consistency in processes.
So if your business is experiencing a certain level of lags and inefficiency and you don’t know what to do about it, then you need to read this piece.
Every business needs to be consistent in delivering its products or services, and to achieve this there should be a blueprint in place that will document the operating procedure to be followed to achieve this.
What you need to do to get back on track is to analyze, as well as improve, your processes. But before you examine any process, having an in-depth understanding of it is highly crucial.
One of the easiest ways of understanding processes is by creating what is known as a “process map,” and that is what we will be discussing today.
Business Process Mapping Ultimate Guide – Chapter Index
Chapter One: What is Business Process Mapping?
Business process mapping is the visual representation of the steps taken by businesses from start to finish. It documents the entire process and ensures that each step functions properly.
This increases the efficiency of team members and ensures that you can analyze your process and improve on it over time.
With the right flowcharts and diagrams, a standard can be established for the smooth running of your business.
So let’s dive in and take a look at how it all began.
The History of Business Process Mapping and Recent Developments
The beginning of business process mapping dates back to 1921 when Frank and Lillian Gilbreth had a presentation with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).
They gave a presentation titled Process Charts, First Steps in Finding the One Best Way to Do Work and introduced the “flow process chart.” This marked the beginning of its usage and other engineers incorporated it into their works as well.
The 1930s had more businesses keying into the process after industrial engineer Allan H. Mogensen provided training on the use of business process mapping tools at a conference in New York on work simplification.
It also became a relevant tool for establishing engineering standards and was used all through the 1940s. In 1947, a symbol system following the format of the chart was adopted by ASME and its use spread among other sectors as well.
Who would have thought that business process mapping originated from an engineer?
Quite interesting, right?
Fast forward to more recent years: business process mapping has evolved and is now represented with software tools to create maps for processes. These maps are often static and ensure the maintenance of standards following established processes.
How different is process mapping from process modeling?
Process Mapping vs. Process Modeling
Business process mapping involves the documentation of the relationship between workflow processes and business elements like location, roles, events, capabilities, and strategies.
Business process modeling focuses on documenting the workflow process itself while taking into consideration the “how” and “who” of the process.
This means that business process mapping goes deeper and breaks down the details involved in establishing the process with the aim of identifying the where, what, who, why, and when of the process in question.
The Scope of Business Process Mapping
As with every process, there should be a starting point and an end. This will help to narrow down the details and ensure that everything needed is captured.
Let’s take a look at the elements to consider:
- What are the tasks in the process?
This identifies each task involved in the process, taking note of where one task begins and ends. The steps involved are identified here and each one needs to be captured to keep the flow in check.
- Who does each task?
Once the steps involved have been identified, the next thing is to dedicate someone who will carry out the task. This dedicated person will, therefore, be held accountable if anything goes wrong.
- When does each task occur?
The processes, and when they get executed, must be timely to ensure meeting up with turnaround time without compromising quality. It ensures that the time specified for the execution of each process is adhered to properly.
The Principles of Business Process Mapping
Developing your process and workflow should help simplify your processes. This means that you need to adopt the lean principle during the creation of your process.
The principles on which business processes are built revolve around the lean principle and strive to achieve the following:
- Eliminate waste
- Develop and build-in quality
- Documentation and creation of knowledge
- Keep project requirements flexible
- Meet up with delivery timelines
- Have value and respect for team members
- Have a holistic approach for your processes
These seven principles, once adhered to, will ensure that you have an efficient and effective process developed for your business.
The Framework of Business Process Mapping
Before you set out to prepare a process map, you need to have the small parts in place. This will ensure that the framework you use is adequate for mapping the process in question.
A good framework will, therefore, produce an effective process mapping. The framework should help you number the process sequence and arrange them in the order needed to be executed.
It also presents the process that is core and closely associated with customer satisfaction, and differentiates it from other supporting processes.
A lot of intricacies go into establishing a process and its continuity needs to be upheld by following standard operating procedures that have been developed based on established principles.
In the next chapter, we’ll take a look at the types of business process maps and how they are applied to the day-to-day functions of businesses.
Chapter Two: Types of Business Process Maps and Their Applications
Business process mapping can be used to define procedures and standards. When you visualize the processes, you will get a better understanding of how each part of the business functions.
These processes are best depicted using flowcharts, but the first thing you need to know when preparing a flowchart is its purpose. The purpose of the flowchart will enable you to come up with one that best suits your needs.
So let’s dive in and explore the best type of diagrams and flowcharts you can use to develop a proper business process mapping.
The Basic Top-Down Process Flowchart
This is one of the most frequently used and simplest flowcharts: the basic top-down process flowchart. Software designers and engineers often make use of this type of diagram to map out new projects.
Basic top-down process flowcharts are particularly useful when a new project involves a chronological sequence of steps that call for decisions. It can be used for modeling and documenting the process, solve problems, manage workflows, and help teams communicate.
Application: It can be used to determine what and where the significant activity clusters are, the ones that are highly essential to the entire process.
It can also be used to demonstrate what the process would look like without the unnecessary steps which support a flawed or inefficient process. A basic top-down flowchart can also be used to analyze as well as manage workflows.
The Deployment Flowchart
This type of process map is primarily used for stakeholders, as it furnishes them with information on how processes work.
Most stakeholders are hardly interested in processes, and may not possess any requirement to know the elaborate or detailed process steps. What will be covered in this type of map is the major process steps.
And since it does not require or contain the complete process knowledge, a deployment flowchart can readily be created with the help of a process manager.
Application: It is applicable when a particular process requires the involvement of different departments instead of a single team since it shows where the departments fit into the process chain, as well as how they are linked to one another.
A Detailed Flowchart
This is a process map or flowchart that exhibits an elaborate version of a process. This implies that all the details of each sub-process are contained within this particular type of diagram.
Application: A detailed flowchart, also known as cross-functional flowchart, can be utilized when it is paramount to provide every detail (inputs and outputs) which are related to a process step.
It can also be used for documenting decision points within processes.
SIPOC is an acronym for supplier, inputs, processes, outputs, customer, and it is a simplified process map that does away with more than 99% of the information and focuses only on the essentials of the entire process along with the people involved.
Application: SIPOC-R flowchart can be used to identify the vital elements of a process before creating a detailed map. It can also be used to determine the scope of complicated processes.
This type of process map is otherwise known as a top-down or a value chain map, and it showcases the nitty-gritty activities of a process.
It does not, however, go into much detail about rework loops, decision points, roles involved, and so on.
Application: It is usually employed to define and design business processes. It can also be used to identify the essential details of a process.
The function of this process map and its generic counterpart is almost identical. The primary difference between the two, however, is that with the swimlane flowchart, every step is shared out between different individuals or teams that are responsible for them.
This makes the swimlane flowchart a very clear-cut system for processes that require mapping out in this manner.
Application: It is used to show where each individual must start their work, thereby eliminating the possibility of getting confused over who is responsible for what.
The same also relates to systems as well, and this makes it an ideal tool for several more significant issues.
Value Stream Flowchart
Value stream flowchart, or maps, are used to demonstrate the flow of information and materials required to bring products to consumers.
Application: They are used to analyze data, record measurements, gain insights, as well as identify places to focus on for future projects.
Data Flow Diagram
Data flow diagrams indicate the flow of information or data from one place to the other. They clarify the processes by showing how the processes are linked together via data stores as well as how the processes relate to the outside world and the users.
Application: Data flow diagrams can be used to record analyzed processes as part of design documentation. It is a method of organizing data obtained from its raw state.
Process flowcharts are the most popular type of business process maps since they closely resemble what the inventors of process maps introduced nearly a century ago. They are used for illuminating vital relationships that are shared between major components that are built within an industrial plant.
They can either be drawn by hand or created via the use of software such as Office. However, the only downside of this method is the lack of adaptability or flexibility.
But the familiarity and simplicity have their appeal as well.
Application: Process flowcharts are used for creating new processes or improving existing ones. They can also be used for the documentation of industrial processes with the primary goal of reinforcing quality control mechanisms, promoting better understanding, as well as training new employees.
Business Process Mapping Symbols and Notations
Getting started with the workflow design requires the use of symbols and notations.
Each notation expresses a specific function within the workflow and gives meaning to the chart created.
There are 27 symbols we’ll be looking at, as well as the role they play or what they mean within the chart.
Process and operation based symbols:
You don’t have to use all the flowcharts for mapping your processes. You can select a couple of them for different processes depending on the end goal and what you want to achieve.
This brings us to the next chapter, where we’ll see what you stand to gain when you adopt the use of business process mapping for your business.
|1. Process||Indicates an operation that needs to be done|
|2. Subroutine||Indicates several actions related to a larger process|
|3. Alternate process||Shows a second option for the regular process|
|4. Delay||This shows a delay or waiting period within the process|
|5. Preparation||A step prior to another step|
|6. Manual loop||A sequence of repeated and automated command|
|7. Loop limit||The stopping point of a loop|
|8. Arrow||Shows the direction of the flow chart|
|9. Terminator||Indicates the point of entry and exit of the flowchart|
|10. Decision||Shows the point at which a decision is needed|
|11. Connector||Connects sections or pages of the chart|
|12. Off-page connector||Shows that the process still continues off the page|
|13. Merge||The step for merging two or more sub-processes as one|
|14. Extract||Indicates the division in a process that still runs parallel|
|15. Or||Indicates a branch in the process|
|16. Junction or summoning||Show the merging of multiple sub-processes into one|
|17. Input / Output / Data||Indicates the entry or exit of information or materials within the process|
|18. Document||Shows a step within the process that creates a report or document|
|19. Multiple documents||Shows a step within the process that creates multiple reports or documents|
|20. Display||Indicates the display of information to a person|
|21. Manual input||Shows a step that requires manual input of information|
|22. Stored data||Shows steps that need to have data stored|
|23. Database symbol||Indicated a list of information that can be searched or sorted|
|24. Direct access storage||Shows the presence of a hard drive|
|25. Internal storage||Indicates that the information is stored in memory instead of a file|
|26. Collate||Indicates a process for organizing material and data in a standard format|
|27. Sort||Shows the sorting of information, material, or data in a predetermined order|
Chapter Three: 12 Benefits of Business Process Mapping
Business process mapping as a tool has been used to transform businesses in different ways, and if you have not been mapping your processes then you have been missing out.
Here’s how businesses have improved from using BPM:
1. Employee Engagement and Satisfaction
Employees are the most invaluable resource any organization can have. But many of these establishments fail to tap into employees’ talent, knowledge, and even effort to work out complicated problems in order to operate a better business.
The best way to boost the satisfaction of employees is to engage them when it comes to defining the processes in which they work.
Call for their input in solving difficult issues that prevent them from doing their jobs efficiently. Then support them massively when they improve their allotted tasks or work within their area of obligation.
2. Spot Vague Problems Easily
Process mapping makes it easy for you to readily identify where a particular process is taking too much time or using up too many budget dollars.
With process mapping, discrepancies are spotted as everyone discovers how the process happens as opposed to how it is supposed to happen.
However, you need to be comprehensively detailed. Map out everything step-by-step. Who does this? When do they do it—immediately or otherwise? How do they communicate changes or approval—in-person or via email or phone? And so on.
Get everything down to pat, whether or not you have an idea on how to fix it. When processes are mapped out, and everyone understands where the issue is, you will have an insight on how to remap the entire process, thereby eliminating any problems.
3. Team Involvement Which Boosts Team Spirit
Team involvement boosts team spirit. When everyone in an organization is involved in process mapping and improvement exercises, every person is somewhat empowered to contribute positively to the success of the organization.
The number one aspect of empowerment comes from a fundamental human trait: a sense of comradeship in physical presence.
So get as many employees involved in your process mapping meetings as possible. Keep in mind that it may be easier said than done, especially if your establishment is vast and complex.
This is because physical human presence has an immediacy that is unmatched by virtual communication. When a solution is reached, the impact of streamlining and mapping the process stamps the positive experience on the minds of every person involved. Employees will, therefore, feel—and enjoy—the power of collaboration, and will never feel alone when faced with menacing problems.
4. Customer Satisfaction
An organization can build robust and viable business processes after a systematic study of customer needs and wants. These processes will not only meet the needs of the customers but also deliver a considerable competitive advantage after some time.
Customers are satisfied only when a series of business processes align with their needs.
The more these processes synchronize with one another, the more likely it is an establishment will systematically deliver top-notch customer value over an extended period.
5. Helps to Improve the System
Process mapping helps to improve the system via the addition of business processes. This is possible because you can quickly analyze the data that is presented on a process map.
The information has been clearly mapped out, and anyone can visualize where a problem will likely occur even before the project kicks off.
6. Automate Low-Value Processes
Business process mapping allows you to automate low-value processes and substitute them with processes that will contribute significantly to business success.
This ensures efficiency at all times without compromising quality.
7. Discovery of Best Processes for Driving Business Growth
As a business owner, process mapping enables you to discover the best processes that are designed to drive business growth. You will have a clear understanding of all the steps that are associated with your business as well as how each of these steps relate to one another.
This makes it easier for you to formulate decisions as you can better analyze every step associated with it.
8. A Bigger and Better Picture
Business process mapping also allows you to have a much bigger and better picture of everything that is going on within your organization. The availability of diagrams and flowcharts will enable you to visualize all the vital information of your establishment distinctly.
This assists you in formulating precise decisions when it is fundamentally required. The process also makes it possible to allocate sufficient amounts of resources, thereby saving you from the risk of shooting over budgets or facing deficits.
9. Builds High Level of Confidence Within Project Management Teams
Business process mapping also creates a high level of confidence in your project management team. The entire process allows you to have a great picture of every element involved in the activities and affairs of your business. You will be able to account for each factor that influences success.
This is how you will be able to readily identify those areas that require immediate attention and deal with them proactively.
10. More Effective Training
Training is more effective if visualization is utilized. You can make your employees read a 500-page book on your business. But only a handful of them will remember or understand what they read.
But if everything is presented visually, your employees will not only understand how things work but will also know how to apply or implement them.
11. Cuts Down Unnecessary Steps
Business process mapping bares every detail of each process by putting each one under scrutiny for a thorough inspection.
With process mapping, time-wasting sidetracks or unnecessary repetitive processes are cut off or trimmed when you remap the entire process.
12. Auditing and Compliance
A simple process in an organization with complex audit requirements and compliance can appear somewhat more intricate. But process mapping can help you sort it out as well.
You can do this by mobilizing your team for new process mapping meetings, and start with the current process. Everything can be mapped entirely so that you don’t miss anything that has changed since the last time you carried out this exercise. This should happen before you implement new compliance procedures.
Next, you can start to redesign the process map, but with new compliance requirements included.
For certification or audit tests, the auditor will be given the new process map. The diagram or visual display of the map should help the auditor to understand compliance procedures and also communicates your responsibility in the entire process.
Limits of Business Process Mapping
Although there are numerous advantages of using business process mapping, it comes with limits that can hinder its usage for your business.
We’ll take a look at some of the limitations that come with it:
- Input errors. The peculiarity of the set up requires the input of data from employees. This means that if the data given has any flaws, it could be misleading and cause mistakes or errors with the process.
- Small sample size. Usually data used is also generated using a small sample of employees. Using this small sample size to represent a large group of employees could sometimes be inaccurate.
- Lack of clear communication. During the creation of business processes, all parties involved must communicate adequately to convey all the necessary information needed to make it work. This means that process notice should be given and the implication of not participating truthfully should also be communicated across.
Having these pitfalls in mind will go a long way in ensuring that a hitch-free process is developed for use.
Once you adopt the right method for developing your process you can’t go wrong. This leads us to the next chapter, where we’ll dive into developing a business process mapping methodology.
Chapter Four: How To Develop Your Business Process Mapping Methodology
In order to develop a process that is proven to work, there is a need to create a process that can be measured and improved upon.
With constant improvement, you would be able to analyze and evaluate the performance and effectiveness of a process.
However, to get started with this you should have tools in place to help you assess the process. This brings us to the key performance indicators.
Defining Key Performance Indicators
Here we’ll take a look at the tools you can use for checking the performance of your processes:
- Efficiency. This checks the maximum potential of the process in question, and is expressed as the ratio of the output to input.
- Effectiveness. This checks the relationship between the results obtained from using the process against the expected results.
- Capacity. An evaluation of the amount a process yields and the time it takes to complete it.
- Productivity. The output of a process seen as the relationship between the resources used up to execute the process and the results obtained.
- Quality. This checks for the total yield of the process without any faults or setbacks.
- Profitability. Indicates the percentage between the profit made and the sales from using the process.
- Competitiveness. This is the performance of the business when using the process and how well they are able to stand against the competition.
- Value. This is the relationship between the perceived value and the actual cost.
- Cycle time. This is the duration of the process from the beginning to the end.
- Turnaround time. This checks the time taken to deliver a service to a customer and how they perceive the duration.
- Takt time. This assesses the time taken for a production unit to be completed from start to finish.
- Throughput. This estimates the output within a limited time frame.
- Error rate. The percentage of errors picked out during a process from the beginning to the end.
These key performance indicators are great for analyzing and improving the processes you have in place so you can have better results.
Questions to Ask Before You Start the Mapping Process
Next, we have 20 questions you need to answer to have a clear goal and direction for developing your business process:
- What events mark the beginning of each process?
- What is the end goal at the end of each process?
- Who is included in the process?
- Which specific section or department will be included in the process?
- Who takes responsibility for the process?
- Which cases will you exempt from the process?
- What is the overall goal of the process?
- What key performance indicators do you plan to use?
- What specific metrics will you consider?
- What resources are required for the execution?
- What type of documents will be attached to the process?
- What major activities will take place?
- Who will handle each activity?
- What interface exists with other processes?
- What applications support the process?
- What is the set of rules for running the business?
- What is the process execution frequency or volume?
- What are the restrictions put in place?
- What risks are involved?
- What is the process type to be adopted for the business?
Once the answers to this are put in place, you will be well on your way to create a suitable process map for your business.
Chapter Five: How to Create a Process Map
Getting your process map right is crucial, and this can make or mar the success of your business.
This video (at 2:30–4:57) on the tips and tricks on being a workflow superhero
Chapter Six: Business Process Mapping Software
You know, times have changed, and creating process maps has not been left behind.
There are applications and software that will make the process a whole lot easier. In the next few lines, we’ll take a look at the tools and software that are available out there.
What is Process Mapping Software?
A business process mapping software is a cloud-based or online tool that allows users to visually illustrate—through charts and graphs—the steps required to complete a specific business process.
The map showcases a flowchart of standard operating procedures, descriptions of tasks, as well as all process-related activities, which include input/output, and so on.
Why is a Process Mapping Software So Important?
The number one goal of any business mapping software is to help users, organizations, or enterprises to become more efficient in the day-to-day running of their operations. These remarkable tools allow management to efficiently track workflows in order to get a crystal-clear perspective of the entire organization as well as its different processes.
Process mapping tools also help in breaking down the complication or complexity of business processes, and enhances the understanding of process flows. This allows users to define the steps for process improvement.
So a business process mapping software can be a very valuable tool for your business since you must understand processes before you make any moves to improve them. And that is what these process mapping tools are designed to do: to help you understand the core of any process.
Here is a list of some of the top ten business process mapping software selected according to the immense number of positive reviews and customer satisfaction they have garnered over the years.
Top 10 Business Process Mapping Software Programs:
Promapp is an intuitive process mapping tool that is used to drive process improvement by simplifying process mapping significantly. Users can easily create, change HR processes, and share using this great online tool. It enables risk management, quality assurance, as well as business continuity.
Promapp allows users to generate process maps from the text. It is touted as one of the top business process mapping software with extraordinary process improvement tools.
Draw.io is a straightforward process mapping tool that can be used for creating process flowcharts or any diagram. It can also create in-depth representations such as the SIPOC diagram.
The best part is that this excellent tool is free to use. Anyone can create as many diagrams or graphs they want for free.
SmartDraw allows users to create professional-looking diagrams and charts without any difficulty. It comes with an array of functionalities as well as features, and it is user-friendly, thanks to its extremely intuitive design.
SmartDraw utilizes automated technology: all you need to do is click to add new symbols, and then type in your text.
#4: Microsoft Excel
Almost everyone knows what Microsoft Excel is. It is definitely one of the most popular—and well-used—spreadsheets in the world today.
But many people don’t know that Excel—the same one that comes with the Microsoft Office package—has several tools that you can use for creating process maps.
Excel costs about $50. However, if you own any Microsoft product, you may already have this software installed on your computer.
This is a process mapping software that can be utilized for business process management, workflow management, and quality management.
You can use this innovative tool for simple modeling, optimization, as well as the publication of documents and processes. Every piece of information about a particular process can be easily presented without any difficulty.
This tool was created for one purpose only: to create business process maps. And that is why it is loaded with several functionalities and features that facilitate process mapping. For instance, LucidChart comes with a bucket load of templates that anyone can utilize to create any process map such as SIPOC, BPMN2, value stream, and so on.
You can also make use of the LucidChart platform to share the process maps with your workers or employees, instead of making use of an internal server. This will save you a lot of effort and time.
Graham Process Mapping tool can be used to develop, improve, or manage a wide variety of business processes. The tool showcases where information is used, where it has been captured, where it moves to, where it is shared, and where it is stored.
You can also generate an integrity analysis report as well as quick reports that itemize every map in your process map library.
#8: Microsoft Visio
Visio is a dedicated tool from Microsoft, and it was designed for creating business process maps. However, this handy tool also comes with a lot of extra features or functionalities that users will love.
Although Microsoft Visio is one of the best process mapping software today, it is also one of the most expensive tools on this list. It costs from $5 to $15 a month, but this depends significantly on the functionalities you intend to use.
This is a web-based software designed that makes the creation of process workflow easy. It also supports the migration of information or data if you have already prepared them elsewhere.
Enhancing your business growth is crucial, and SweetProcess can help you achieve this with amazing features it has incorporated. It also has a 14-day free trial period to enable you to test and get a feel for the platform before you make any financial commitment.
Tallyfy is not really a process mapping tool: it is, however, something that is even more powerful. Tallyfy can be used to create what is referred to as a digital process, implying that the process facilitates itself.
Instead of using your workers to communicate tasks, this extraordinary software does the job for you. For instance, when employee A completes the first task, employee B is automatically assigned the next undertaking or task. The tool keeps assigning tasks as well as deadlines until the entire process is completed.
Business process mapping has gone beyond mere graphic appeal as the most uncomplicated process. However, if not correctly or critically analyzed, it can develop complications and problems you’d rather do without.
That is why process mapping is so crucial, as it allows you to not only find but also fix broken things while filling up essential gaps. The best and easiest way to do this is with the use of the right tools and software.
So ensure that you find and make use of the best process mapping software and tools for your business, one that covers all your specific requirements and needs today. Have you downloaded the guide mentioned in chapter four that takes you through the steps on how to develop your business process mapping methodology? If not, you can get it here: