Business process mapping is the foundation of all core business operations whether you realize it or not. The more you understand how processes work, and the potential they have to transform your business, the better your business’ organizational and operational health will be.
Being able to clearly design your business processes helps you understand how your business process works. Process mapping helps you learn what needs improvement, along with your strengths. Knowing these will help you manage your business more effectively moving forward.
Below, we will cover an industry-standard guide to help you improve your own enterprise.
First, what is a business process?
Processes are how people within an enterprise work together to achieve a goal. In the words of Adam Lazarus of Buoy Ventures, “Business process mapping gets everyone on the same page.”
Process mapping is the act of creating a process (also known as a workflow) diagram that shows the necessary actions required to complete the desired outcome, such as purchasing an item or requesting leave. Using a process map, employees can easily gain insight at a macro level of how these workflows work in practice. They can use that information to find what works versus what can be improved upon, and what needs to be done to effectively correct the course.
What are process maps used for?
Process mapping is executed to establish an order for procedures, a necessary prerequisite for any Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Certain enterprises use process maps as templates, or guidelines, or diagrams for tasks. These are meant to help guide employees on how to carry out procedures. Relying solely on process maps without a business process management (BPM) platform often results in missed opportunities for improvement due to untracked metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs). Process mapping comes before a BPM platform and is the basis of the whole workflow engine.
With a BPM platform, your enterprise can track the amount of time it takes to complete a process, spot bottlenecks or time-consuming tasks, reinforce defined execution standards, automate work, and more.
How to create a business process map
Below is a step-by-step guide to help you map your business processes.
1. Meet with all of your process stakeholders
Before you begin process mapping, you will want to gather all of the stakeholders that will be affected by a process together. Since processes are workflows, changing processes will affect the way people work together. Make sure your staff is prepared mentally for the transition and that you are establishing workflows that are conducive to their work.
2. Define the starting and ending points
Establish where a process starts and where it stops. Some processes are more complex than others and thus have multiple endpoints. Thinking of all possible outcomes is critical to avoid confusion later on.
3. List which actions are making the process actually work
List the steps that drive your process forward. An active voice with action verbs should be used to describe each task, such as “fill out request form” or “contact supplier.”
4. Determine a sequence order
After defining the tasks that move your process from start to finish, now you need to put them in chronological order. Each action is supposed to trigger the following step in the sequence.
Common BPMN symbols. Sourced by Lucidchart.
5. Mark with appropriate symbols
When marking workflows, you’ll want to ensure you are following BPMN 2.0, the universal notation for business process modeling. BPMN consists of three main elements: events, activities, and gateways. To connect these three main elements, a fourth element can be used, something called the “sequence flow.” These are the black lines with arrows that connect everything together.
6. Test and reiterate
Once your diagram is complete, ensure each process works as originally designed. Are your employees following the correct steps? Are there inconsistencies or repetitive tasks adding additional time that could otherwise be saved? Constantly applying a mindset of improvement will guarantee your business operates as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
Benefits of business process mapping
There are many pros to mapping your business processes. Here are a few that our clients have experienced after process mapping with our BPM software.
Understanding your role with visual aid. A business process map provides a visual to determine accountability for each task, making it easy to spot system or human errors.
Solve problems and implement solutions. Finding problems in workflows is simple, but finding the root of the problem can be tricky. Process mapping visualizes the entire sequence of events that created the inefficiency, making it a breeze to see what went wrong and fix it.
Stay compliant and mitigate risk. Process mapping is a great tool to spot potential risks that, if unresolved, could lead to legal repercussions. Fines and legal actions could come as a result, which can tarnish a business’ reputation on top of being expensive and time-consuming to handle. Mapping processes also help with reporting, making things easy for your auditor come to the next audit.
Create an SOP. Standardizing what works best and how things should be done helps a business follow a uniform performance standard. A business can then operate like a well-oiled machine with ample clarity around defined roles, tasks, sprints, and long-term strategy — helping your enterprise reach its goals for business growth.
Develop a healthier company culture. Working with a BPM platform can get everyone in the mental state of efficiency, allowing your business to operate smoothly. When everyone pitches in, more discrepancies are spotted and they are easily fixed. Process mapping also helps your employees feel empowered to create change that actually directly affects business health, along with giving them a birds-eye view of processes across an organization. This type of visibility and accountability leads to greater productivity in the long-run, according to McKinsey.
Peak operational health means a stronger business. Process mapping can be a powerful way to help you and your enterprise gain insight into how your business operates. With this insight, you can then manage your business better moving forward, thus improving the business’ general welfare and profitability overall.
Are you looking for a comprehensive workflow solution that takes your process mapping to the next level? Learn more about how our intelligent BPM platform is helping banks, higher education institutions, and enterprises transform their core business operations.
ProcessMaker is a low-code BPM business process software. ProcessMaker makes it easy for business analysts to collaborate with IT to automate complex business processes connecting people and existing company systems. Headquartered in Durham, North Carolina in the United States, ProcessMaker has a partner network spread across 35 countries on five continents. Hundreds of commercial customers, including many Fortune 100 companies, rely on ProcessMaker to digitally transform their core business processes enabling faster decision making, improved compliance, and better performance.