5 Business Process Mapping Best Practices to Effectively Visualize Work Processes

Updated on: 01 December 2022 | 10 min read
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Businesses don’t just crop up overnight. Every objective is achieved through systematic processes.

Business process modeling lets everyone from the heads of departments to concerned staff figure out the why, what, where and when of these processes. Process maps take all the data from here and present it visually.

The best establishments use business process maps to create visual representations of the inputs and steps that go into a service or end product. It’s easy to see why.

A process map is a visual representation of the concise sequence of tasks that are needed to bring a service or product from its conception to completion. A simplified, easy to understand representation of the processes to be resolved keeps everyone onboard aware of what needs to be done and what is expected of them to ensure it.

There are also a lot of misconceptions regarding business process mapping (BPM). A rundown of the key business process mapping best practices you need to know can help you use it more effectively to improve how you work.

  • Understand the Process Before the Changes
  • Goals Need to be Defined Beforehand
  • Understand that It is a Team Effort
  • Focus on Tasks that Produce Results
  • Don’t Forget Business Process Mapping Best Practices

Understand the Process Before the Changes

Understand the process - Business process mapping best practices

No project is set in stone and will require modifications down the road. However, when creating a business process map, it is easy to get ahead of yourself and think of implementing possible changes before the tasks required for them even get off the ground.

If we wish to change something, we must understand it first. To do this in a process map, keep these thoughts in mind:

What is the process type? : The design of your business process map depends on the type of process it is for. Is it a management process like human resource management or organizational?

Who is in it? BPMs simplify and visualize complex tasks such as those that involve a lot of employees. Knowing who these people are can help define their responsibilities.

What are the tasks required? It’s not enough to know which tasks need to be executed. Also, determine their sequence to streamline them.

Goals Need to be Defined Beforehand

Business process mapping helps define goals - Business process mapping best practices

This kind of goes without saying. What is it that you want your business processes to achieve? Is it to solve a problem, train employees, create a product or ensure that it gets to a client?

To make the most of your BPM strategy, focus on goals by asking yourself:

What are the processes? To identify the relationship between the processes in your business process map, you need to identify what they are. For example, a goal of a supply chain process can be to expedite urgent deliveries.

Which processes should you map? Some goals have too many tasks and involve interactions with a lot of people. Taking a sequential approach to task management ensures that the tasks in your business process map are completed in a timely manner. But not all. Keeping simple tasks out of your map will keep it clutter free.

Understand that It is a Team Effort

Team Effort - Business process mapping best practices

Creating a business process map is one thing. Making changes in it, on the other hand, should be a team effort.

Implementing changes in it without thinking about the limitations and requirements of your team is a recipe for disaster. They need to be communicated, discussed and the final decisions need to be incorporated in the map.

There is a simple reason for this. The best way to keep employees engaged in a business process is to define their role in it, address and try to resolve any problems that might prevent them from carrying out their tasks efficiently.

For a business process model to be truly effective, it must acknowledge the unique challenges and streamline the tasks set out.

Focus on Tasks that Produce Results

Business process mapping helps you focus - Business process mapping best practices

The purpose of BPM is to map out tasks that need to be executed. However, while these tasks are no less important, the bottom line is to produce results.

Unfortunately, we get so focused on completing processes to the tee that we fail to consider whether they will actually bring desired results.

In other words, in a bid to create the perfect process map, we oftentimes forget why we are process mapping in the first place. To clear this up, focus on objectives and gear tasks in ways that makes achieving them easier for all parties involved. For example, ask yourself questions like:

What are the results that you are looking for?

What is it that you are trying to achieve and what are the tasks required for it?

Don’t Forget Business Process Mapping Best Practices

Don’t forget best practices - Business process mapping best practices

This is a very good chance that the objectives you want to achieve with your process maps have been achieved by someone else before. When starting out with business process mapping, following BPM best practices come in handy.

For example, a BPM best practice regarding process documentation is to not deviate from the value chain which is everything that contributes to the delivery of a product for instance. The chain should be represented in a way that clearly illustrates the products and the processes required to execute their delivery.

Here are some more business processes mapping best practices to keep in mind.

  1. Define the purpose: Clearly define the purpose and objectives of the business process mapping exercise. Identify what specific outcomes or improvements you aim to achieve through the process mapping.

  2. Start with high-level overview: Begin by mapping out the high-level steps or stages of the process before diving into the details. This helps to establish a clear structure and flow of the process.

  3. Use visual symbols: Utilize standardized symbols and notation to represent different elements of the process, such as activities, decisions, inputs, outputs, and flows. This ensures consistency and improves readability.

  4. Capture inputs and outputs: Clearly document the inputs and outputs at each step of the process. This helps to identify dependencies and ensures a complete understanding of the flow of information.

  5. Include decision points: Identify decision points within the process where choices or alternate paths exist. Document the criteria for making decisions and the potential outcomes.

  6. Validate and verify: Regularly review and validate the process maps with stakeholders to ensure accuracy and completeness. Seek feedback and incorporate any necessary revisions or improvements.

  7. Focus on value-added activities: Identify and prioritize value-added activities within the process. This helps to streamline the process and eliminate non-value-added or redundant steps.

  8. Identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies: Look for bottlenecks, delays, or inefficiencies within the process. Use process mapping to pinpoint areas for improvement and redesign to enhance efficiency.

  9. Consider automation opportunities: Assess the process maps for opportunities to automate certain tasks or activities. Identify areas where technology or tools can be utilized to streamline the process and improve productivity.

Benefits of Business Process Mapping

  • Process understanding: Business process mapping provides a visual representation of workflows, enabling a clear understanding of how tasks, activities, and information flow within an organization.

  • Identification of inefficiencies: By mapping out processes, inefficiencies and bottlenecks can be identified and addressed, leading to improved productivity and cost savings.

  • Process standardization: Business process mapping facilitates standardization by defining consistent procedures and guidelines for performing tasks, ensuring consistency and quality across the organization.

  • Process improvement: Mapping out business processes allows for identification of areas for improvement, enabling organizations to streamline operations, reduce errors, and optimize resource allocation.

  • Cross-functional collaboration: Process mapping encourages collaboration and communication between different departments or teams involved in a process, fostering a shared understanding and alignment.

  • Risk management: By visualizing processes, potential risks and dependencies can be identified, allowing for proactive risk management and mitigation strategies.

  • Training and onboarding: Business process maps serve as valuable training and onboarding tools, providing new employees with a clear overview of how processes work within the organization.

  • Process automation: Business process mapping serves as a foundation for process automation initiatives, enabling organizations to identify areas suitable for automation and streamline operations.

  • Compliance and audit: Process mapping assists in ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements and facilitates audits by providing a documented overview of processes and controls.

  • Continuous improvement: Business process mapping promotes a culture of continuous improvement by facilitating ongoing evaluation and optimization of processes to enhance efficiency and effectiveness.

Wrapping Up on Business Process Mapping

Every business objective needs to follow a process to ensure that it is executed in a timely manner. Business process mapping helps you understand all the processes involved in a project and achieve them with ease. Follow these business process mapping best practices to design effective work flows.

Author Bio

Farheen Shahzeb is a digital marketing expert and content strategist at Cygnis Media, an app development company that specializes in business intelligence (BI) software, enterprise web and mobile applications. An avid writer and researcher, she loves catching up on the latest trends and releases in BI tech.

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FAQs on Business Process Mapping

What is business process mapping?

Business process mapping, also known as process mapping or process modeling, is a visual representation and documentation of how work flows within an organization. It involves capturing and illustrating the series of steps, activities, decisions, and interactions that take place to accomplish a specific business objective or deliver a product or service.

Business process mapping provides a clear and structured overview of how different tasks and activities are performed, the sequence in which they occur, the inputs and outputs at each stage, and the relationships between various elements of the process. It helps stakeholders understand the end-to-end flow of work, identify inefficiencies or bottlenecks, and facilitate process improvement and optimization.

What are the steps in business process mapping?

Determine which specific process or workflow you want to map. Clearly define the boundaries and scope of the process.

  1. Collect relevant data and information about the process. This can involve interviewing stakeholders, conducting observations, reviewing documentation, and analyzing existing process documents or artifacts.

  2. Determine where the process begins and ends. Identify the trigger or event that initiates the process and the desired outcome or result.

  3. Identify the individual tasks, actions, or activities that need to be performed to complete the process. Document each activity in sequential order.

  4. Identify the dependencies and relationships between activities. Determine the flow of information, materials, or decisions between each step of the process.

  5. Determine the inputs required at each step of the process and the outputs or deliverables produced. Document what information, materials, or resources are needed and generated.

  6. Identify decision points within the process where choices or alternate paths exist. Document the criteria for making decisions and the potential outcomes.

  7. Use process mapping techniques such as flowcharts, swimlane diagrams, or other visual representations to create a diagram that illustrates the sequence of activities, flows, decision points, and dependencies.

  8. Regularly review and update the process map to ensure it remains accurate and up-to-date. As the process evolves or changes, make necessary revisions to reflect the current state.

What are the six main methods to create business process maps?
  1. Flowcharts: Use symbols and arrows to visualize the process flow, identify bottlenecks, and improve efficiency.

  2. Swimlane diagrams: Divide the process into lanes to show responsibilities and interactions between different stakeholders.

  3. Value stream mapping: Identify value-added and non-value-added activities, and optimize the flow of materials and information.

  4. Data flow diagrams: Illustrate the flow of data or information within a system or process.

  5. BPMN (Business Process Model and Notation): Standardized graphical symbols to document and communicate business processes.

  6. SIPOC diagrams: Provide a high-level overview of the process by identifying suppliers, inputs, processes, outputs, and customers.



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