Business Process Mapping Methodologies
Creating process mapping and documentation can be done by following a number of methodologies. The use of flow charts, diagrams, and mind-maps are some of the visual ways to represent a business process. Some of the most commonly followed business process mapping methodologies are listed below:
Value Stream Mapping (VSN): This is one of the most popular Lean management principles. This methodology maps all the interactions with the customer and the value delivered through each interaction. While developing a process mapping based on this methodology, you need to bear in mind the value that you provide to the customer and all the steps involved to provide this value.
Image source: Lucidchart
Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN): This is the most commonly used process mapping methodology. The use of business process mapping notation and symbols to represent the process graphically is what the BPMN method is all about.
Image source: Wikipedia
Symbols like ovals, rectangles, and diamonds are used to represent start/end, tasks/steps, and decision points respectively. Arrows are used to mark the sequence of process flow. The image below shows the symbols and notations used to represent processes.
SIPOC (Supplier, Input, Process, Output, and Customer): This methodology creates a detailed mapping through high-level mapping of the process. As the name suggests, it focuses on
- Supplier – who provides the input for the process
- Input – what is the input
- Process – how is the input processes
- Output – what is the outcome of the processing
- Customer – to whom the output delivered.
Businesses can choose from business process mapping methodologies that align with their business goals. In some cases, two or more methodologies can be used together to represent a business process in a lucid manner.
How to do Business Process Mapping?
You need to gather complete information about the process before you start mapping it. Irrespective of the business process mapping technique followed, gathering information about the process is the preliminary step for all methodologies. Here is a broad framework of business process mapping steps to be followed:
Gather information: Collect all the information about the process. Identify the purpose of the process, roles played by people, duration of the process, resources required, expected output, and any other relevant information. Data can be collected through observation or by interviewing all the stakeholders.
Start and Endpoints: Identification of the boundaries is important to define and map the process accurately. All activities that trigger the process may be considered as start points, and the final results are considered as endpoints. Sometimes a process may have more than one endpoint.
Supplier and customer: Identifying the key people in the process is important for assigning roles and optimizing resource utilization. Apart from the team members performing various tasks in the process, the supplier and customer need to be identified. Suppliers trigger the process and customers are recipients of the outcome.
Sequence of actions: Once the start and endpoints and the stakeholders are identified, the next step is the identification of the sequence of task execution. This step helps prioritize tasks and align the process to the overall business goal. You can use action verbs to describe each step in the process.
Business rules: The product or service delivered by the process needs to be aligned to the business goal. In-depth knowledge of the business strategy, business process, and how they connect and correlate is necessary to map business processes. Understanding business rules makes it easy to make informed decisions.
Review and streamline: Once the process is mapped as-is, the repetitions, redundancies, and bottlenecks become evident. A business process mapping diagram can also reveal wrong resource allocation, digression from ideal flow, or missing steps. All corrections and updates can be done based on the findings from a review of the process map.
Continuous improvement of the process must be borne in mind while mapping out the process. The business process mapping template must be flexible to accommodate future changes or upgrades to the process.
Applying Business Process Mapping to Your Business
Business processes may be categorized as managing, operating, and supporting processes. Mapping specific types of processes only will prove to be an advantage to the business. You need to carefully consider and choose the right process for mapping and subsequent improvement. Here are a few approaches that businesses can follow to choose the process for mapping:
Customer-centric: Group the processes that are customer-centric. These are usually core, guiding, and enabling processes for the business. Process mapping and improvement of these processes will have a direct impact on the bottom line.
Deliberate improvement: Processes that fail an audit or exhibit compliance issues may necessitate immediate improvement. Such processes need to be mapped without any delay to identify the issues and make necessary changes/corrections.
Aligned to business strategy: Another approach is identifying the processes that are aligned to the company’s strategic goals. After identifying the company’s overall strategy, the next step would be to identify those processes that are most relevant to achieving the overall business goal. Mapping such processes ensure sustainable business growth.
Benefits of Business Process Mapping
Process mapping is an integral part of a successful business. Without accurate business process mapping, the process outcomes are unpredictable and the team is left clueless about the process sequence.
Here are the main advantages of business process mapping diagrams:
Standardized Processes: Business process diagrams are extremely useful tools in standardizing business processes. Compliance checks during internal audits can be easily done with the help of process maps. Third-party audits like ISO 9001 can be handled easily when processes are standardized with process diagrams.
Process Improvement: The first step to improving a process is an end-to-end understanding of the process. Mapping out the process helps in understanding every step of the process. Identifying areas of improvement becomes easy when you have a lucid map of the process in front of you.
Identifying Gaps, Bottlenecks, and Redundancies: When a process is mapped according to a standard business process mapping template, it becomes easy to identify inaccuracies, discrepancies, bottlenecks, and redundancies that are affecting the process flow. Assessing the process to check if it is aligned to the overall business goal also becomes easy with a process map in hand.
Employee Training: A process map helps the team understand the process better. Training the employees on process improvement updates becomes easy when you have a process map.
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