How To Create a Business Process Map

by Jones David

No matter how small, every business should have at least one business process: a repeatable sequence of tasks performed to achieve an objective. The better we understand this process, the better we can manage our business and improve its performance.

As the name suggests, business process mapping is the visualization of these business processes to allow a top-down view of this business process. Visualizing this business process, in turn, will allow us to get a better understanding of how the process functions, your business’s strengths and weaknesses in executing this process, and how we can make this process more efficient.

Here, we will discuss all you need to know about business process mapping and how you can implement it on your business.

Different Types of Process Maps

There are various methods to map a business process, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Here are the most common ones:

  • Flowchart: the most basic type of business process mapping, and many people are familiar with the concept. Easy to create and use, but not very versatile compared to other types. However, it is still widely used due to its simplicity.
  • Value stream map: a variation to the basic flowchart, and is especially popular among lean six sigma It allows a deeper examination of a business process and is more flexible than the standard flowchart but is more difficult to understand.
  • Swimlane: very similar to the basic flowchart, but the steps/tasks are divided between teams or individuals responsible for the specific task (making the diagram look like a swimlane). Great if the business process needs to be clearly divided between teams or roles.
  • SIPOC: SIPOC stands for Supplier Inputs Processes Outputs customer, and is a straightforward process mapping that won’t require any graphics/shapes, only a standard excel sheet divided into five columns (S, I, P, O, and C).
  • Software-based: BPM tools and solutions offered by companies like Aproove can help you create a business process map. The benefit of using a software solution is that we can also keep track of the process after the mapping is done, like how effective the process is being performed, potential bottlenecks, etc. Your team members can also use the software solution to keep track of their tasks and avoid missing deadlines.

How To Implement Business Process Mapping

Here are the steps required to create a proper business process map:

Step 1: Define the business process

First and foremost is to pick the business process you want to map, and make sure that it is a granular process (you can’t divide it into several sub-processes), and it’s a complete process on its own.

You may consider the following approaches in choosing between different business processes:

  1. Strategic: the business process mapping gets done as a part of a bigger strategic decision. So, you’d want to choose a business process that is considered crucial for this specific strategy. Or, in the case of a significant strategic overhaul, a business process that is crucial in achieving organizational objectives.
  2. Reactive: this approach, the mapping is performed to tackle issues that have already occurred in the business or the process itself. The mapping here is done to identify and fix the issue.
  3. Customer-focused: in this approach, the process is chosen because it is integral in improving customer satisfaction, and by enhancing this specific business process, we can deliver a visible increase in value for customers.

Step 2: Gathering Information

Once you’ve figured out which process you are going to map and the business process mapping objective, the next step is to gather the required information.

The best way to do this is to ask your field employees and key team members. Identify all of the steps required in the business process, figure out in detail who does what, how they do it, and when. Gather as much detail as possible: it’s better to have too much information at first and filter it down as you work through it, rather than having insufficient information.

When interviewing your team members, keep in mind that they might include subjective feelings and their own agendas, so use your judgment and filter out the information as needed.

Step 3: Create a Map

Now that you’ve gathered the required information, you can start drafting your business process map that should detail the process’s steps, potential issues, and other things.

This draft would visualize how your current process works before any improvements can be implemented. It can act as a ‘baseline’ or ‘benchmark’ that you can use to discuss what improvements you should implement and as a guideline for mapping further processes in the future.

You would need to include:

  • The overall workflow of the business process
  • Each step involved in this workflow, and who’s going to be responsible for this task
  • Connecting lines and arrows that would describe the sequence and relationships between tasks
  • The start and endpoint of the process
  • All the people and resources involved in the process

Step 4: Identifying Issues and Improvements

Now that you’ve got a business process map, the next step is to analyze the business process visualized and find areas for improvements. Identify potential flaws, bottlenecks, and find different ways to improve the process.

If necessary, you might want to revamp the whole process to help achieve the objective more efficiently. You can then try to implement this improvement in practice. Start small, and if it works, you can then apply this improvement to the rest of the process.

Step 5: Monitoring Improvements

Even after you’ve got a working business process map and have implemented the improvements, your work is not done! It would be best if you did constant monitoring and optimization to refine and improve the business process continuously. Remember that business process mapping is not a one-time methodology, but rather a continuous one that should be evaluated and adjusted regularly.

Review the flowchart with other stakeholders of the process regularly, and improve the map as needed.

End Words

Now that you’ve understood the theory behind business process mapping, it’s time to implement it to your organization’s business process to start improving your business’s efficiency and maximize your ROI.

Having the right solution to help you implement, monitor, and automate your business process can significantly help, giving Approve Work Management a try and book a free product tour.

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