Create a visual representation of a business process or process flow diagram defining future workflow events.
What is process mapping?
Process mapping can help create a business process or a process flow diagram that defines a sequence of events in the workflow ahead and is often a visual representation. Subsequently, process maps allow leaders and project managers to bring teams together, help people understand where they fit into a project, and how their work impacts others—ultimately driving toward a successful result.
Process maps typically define a new process or improve an existing one. With process mapping software, anyone can create a visual representation of a project.
Benefits of process mapping
With the power to visually see and understand a process from start to finish, areas for improved efficiency will quickly appear. This transparency is crucial, especially in a post-pandemic atmosphere where agility is a necessity. In addition, a process flow chart can help you:
- Provide process documentation, compliance, and audit.
- View a visual project from beginning to end.
- Share details visually that can be immediately understood, and contents relayed to leadership easily.
- Highlight complexities and redundancies, as well as potential problems and solutions.
- Reorganize processes into steps using an easy-to-understand system.
- See how team members are connected, helping facilitate more meaningful interactions.
- Give your team a frame of reference to ask and answer more strategic questions and make more informed decisions.
- Create a library of flow charts that you can use, reuse, and repurpose as new projects arise.
- Deliver better products and services to clients.
Ways of using process mapping
Whether you work in an industrial setting, an office, a warehouse, or a healthcare facility, process mapping helps your team better understand how their work connects with other projects. For any small business, implementing process mapping can help instantly identify areas that need improvement, as well as when to tackle customer, manufacturing, or inventory issues. The pandemic has caused more and more people to move to hybrid and remote work, so teams need to be able to see how projects connect to easily, quickly, and efficiently.
There are two ways of using process mapping: process flow and business process. Take a look at both so you can decide which is right for your project.
A process flow diagram helps detail the relationships between the components of a project or industry. It helps you establish standards and procedures or can be used as a guide for tasks. Moreover, it helps ensure that teams follow each step of your workflow in their prescribed order.
Process flow diagrams document or improve a process—or simply model a new one. When process flow diagrams are created with process mapping software, you can build clickable symbols that expand to provide additional details for each phase of the process. So, before you set up a workflow or business flow chart with tasks, consider outlining your overall process in a flow diagram.
Business process mapping details your process. From start to finish, it shows what needs to happen to reach the end goal. The procedure includes necessary participants, their tasks, and their completion dates. It gives your team members a why, a reason to believe, and insight into the greater goals. It shows the scope of their role, why they’re essential to the process, and how all your team members will work together to finish the project.
Like all process mapping diagrams, business process mapping uses symbols with the ability to expand for more information to indicate touchpoints along the way.
Types of process mapping
Because different businesses and projects have their own unique needs, using the same style of process flow chart for all projects wouldn’t be the best use of the tool. Thus, there are several types of process mapping for more specialized needs. Take a look to decide which is right for your project.
- Detailed process mapping. Delivering the minutiae of a project in the form of a process map, detailed process mapping provides a technical look at the exact steps, including the inputs, outputs, metrics, and people needed to complete the process. Mitigate confusion, show dependencies, and prepare your team to start the project and stay focused. Detailed process maps usually link to the high-level, main, or primary process map.
- Document process mapping. Defining the inputs and outputs of a project. By outlining the information needed at each stage, as well as the outputs (or tangible items or services) connected to the project, you’ll better understand what your team needs and an idea of the final results. Adding a document process map to a detailed process map provide transparency on the variables and decisions that may impact your work.
- High-level process mapping. Offering an overview of an organization’s processes and objectives. For projects, you can specify the departments and subsequent roles you’ll need representation from. Through process mapping software, each department or role can be made clickable for a more detailed look at the project’s needs.
- Rendered process mapping. By outlining your current and future processes, you can get a bird’s-eye view of how your organization or project. This overview can help you find new ways to streamline work, identify critical stakeholders and connection points, improve working relationships, and create a process that utilizes your team’s time and talents.
- Swimlane / cross-functional process mapping. Identifying departments involved in a project, breaking the process into steps, and assigning resources to the right people. It’s a great way to see the process in a new way, find areas for improvement, and pinpoint real or potential gaps or overlaps in the process so you have the foresight to plan.
- Value-add chain process mapping. Providing an overarching view of your project to team members. It’s a simple map of unconnected boxes allowing you to visualize a process at a glance. By doing so, you’ll see which stakeholders to include in a project to understand how a project will flow.
- Value stream process mapping (VSM). Illustrating, analyzing, and improving the steps required to deliver a product or service, while also finding and eliminating waste. A key part of lean methodology, VSM reviews the flow of process steps and information from origin to delivery to the customer. It’s usually used by companies that produce tangible goods for consumers.
- Activity process mapping. Showing the value-added and non-value-added activities within a process. This value stream mapping tool helps pinpoint when and where these activities occur, helping identify the synergies between stakeholders where there’s possibility to add value that didn’t exist before.
Workflow process mapping
When you create a process diagram in “flow” format, it won’t include Unified Modeling Language (UML) symbols. Instead, it’ll use informational notations or words. It’s a great solution when communicating with people who don’t understand the UML symbols or prefer words to symbols.
Business process mapping takes time, but it’s worth it. By providing everyone on your team with a vision, a process and its tasks, or just a deeper understanding of how your business works, you can establish clear boundaries, outline roles and responsibilities, and inform everyone of what they need to know and when. And if you think process mapping is only suited for a business that produces tangible deliverables, think again.
In 2018, the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health published an article on the importance of process mapping in healthcare. According to the report, process mapping benefited healthcare professionals by helping them:
- Learn and gain a shared understanding
- Identify improvement opportunities
- Engage project stakeholders
- Define a project’s objectives
- Monitor project progress
- Gain a simple method for planning
Create process mapping diagrams that take center stage
So, regardless of what type of business you manage, whether it’s software development, healthcare, construction, or marketing, process mapping can help you work smarter and stay on track. For small business owners adjusting to working in a post-pandemic world, process mapping helps optimize every process, strategy, and task, resulting in more efficiency, reduced costs, better business decision-making, and growth. Plus, it can help your team work together under a shared vision, so everyone can do their best for the company and your clients.
Microsoft Visio creates easily personalized visualizations to organize data, deliver insights, present easy-to-understand diagrams, and bring your process mapping to life. To learn more, check out this step-by-step guide for creating diagrams with process mapping software.