Process Mapping is a visual representation of a process in its entirety. A process map employs visual elements to depict a process and its steps. With a well-developed process map, stakeholders can easily understand a process’s start, flow and end.

Process mapping enhances communication among stakeholders. With process mapping, stakeholders know details such as task owners and deadlines. With an aptly chosen process mapping technique, stakeholders can also identify areas of improvement.

Process mapping helps streamline processes and enables stakeholders to enhance entire processes for more desirable outcomes.

Symbols in Process Mapping

A process map uses symbols for visual representation. Some common symbols include:

  • Rectangles – used to depict a process and its different activities
  • Arrows – indicate workflow as well as the relationship between activities
  • Ovals – show the start and end of a process
  • Diamonds – represent a decision point. The process takes different set paths depending on the decision
  • Rectangles with a Curved End – A rounded rectangle indicates a delay or pause in a process. The process continues after the delay.

Types of Process Mapping

The type of process mapping depends on a process and its intricacies. Some common types of process maps include:

Basic Flowcharts

These are visual representations of the fundamental details that go into the making of a process. Basic flowcharts describe the inputs for a process and the outcomes.

Basic flowcharts are mainly used for new projects where keeping all stakeholders on the same page is crucial for success. The simplicity of this process map makes communication and collaboration easier.

AS-IS Process Mapping

An AS-IS process map depicts the status quo. This map describes the steps involved in a currently used process. Details about the duration of each step and the decision-making involved at each stage are also depicted.

A reliable AS-IS map helps identify issues in the current process and make corrections for process enhancement.

Swim Lane Diagrams/ Deployment Maps/ Cross-Functional Maps

These diagrams or maps represent workflow across teams. Swim Lane diagrams depict tasks and task ownership across the company. These maps are commonly used to describe management workflows.

A meticulous Swim Lane diagram helps stakeholders easily grasp the process flow across multiple teams. It is easy to identify task duplication and process areas creating bottlenecks.

Value Stream Mapping

A VSM or Value Stream Map is a visual depiction of the entire process involved in taking a product/ service to customers. It includes a detailed process flow, from raw material procurement to product development and delivery to the end user.

VSM offers in-depth insights into process flow, enabling teams to identify interfering elements and process pullers and pushers.

SIPOC Maps/ High-Level Process Maps

SIPOC Maps are used to denote a process in its bigger-picture view. These process maps depict a process in its top-down view to show the goal of the process. A typical SIPOC map comprises 6 to 8 visual depictions outlining key process elements.

SIPOC is an acronym for elements fundamental to a process:

  • Supplier – the input element for a process
  • Input – the raw materials/ basic inputs that go into the start of a process
  • Process – the process and its different steps put in place to convert the intended input into desired output
  • Output – the end result of the process
  • Customer – the end entity that uses the output

Stakeholders derive process outline information – start and end, process nature and task owners, from an expert SIPOC map.

Benefits of Process Mapping

Process maps, regardless of the type, have been conceived to obtain insights into a process so that it can be enhanced for better task accomplishment. Process maps successfully help achieve this goal of process betterment by making workflows transparent.

Decision-makers can identify intra- and inter-process bottlenecks and efficiency wasters. Timely identification makes removing obstacles easier, preventing costly decision-making errors.

Apart from goal realization, process maps render the following key benefits:

  • Better communication of process goals and requirements to different types of audiences given the visual representation
  • Improved awareness about individual roles and responsibilities
  • Easier identification of existing and potential process bottlenecks
  • Better team communication, performance and morale
  • Improved employee grasp and retention during training

Real-Life Business Examples of Employing Process Mapping

A simple example would be developing a process map to explain a company’s onboarding process. Onboarding is the process of bringing a new hire on board and absorbing him/ her into the relevant team.

Depending on the business, this process may include these steps:

  • Initiating an offer to the potential candidate
  • Getting in touch with the potential candidate to know if the offer is accepted
  • Informing stakeholders in case of offer acceptance
  • Conveying details about the date of joining and initiating the training and orientation program
  • Informing stakeholders in case of non-acceptance of the offer and moving ahead to the candidate next in line

In Conclusion

Well-conceived process maps enable organizations to enhance their process efficiency. For the best results, involve the right people to develop process maps and get constant feedback to enhance your process mapping.

Consider employing process mapping software. These applications come with templates that make creating maps easy and efficient. You can build highly efficient processes and collaborative teams with well-developed process mapping software.

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