Implementing great business ideas into processes is possible with planning and organization. Process mapping can help with the planning and organizing of business processes. An accounts payable process map is a visual representation of the various steps that make up a process and their dependencies. Businesses can adopt business process mapping methodology suited to the nature and scope of their processes.
Businesses can consider various process mapping examples for creating accurate process maps of their business processes. The applicability of process mapping methods can be understood with business process mapping examples. Through this blog, we intend to delve deeper into various process mapping techniques and process map examples.
What is Process Mapping?
A good understanding of process mapping is essential to create an accurate representation of the process by mapping all the tasks. Process mapping is a technique used to visually map out workflows and processes. The process map could be a flow chart, flow diagram, or process flow chart. The main aim of process mapping is to communicate how a process works in a clear and straightforward way.
Examples of process mapping guide team members to gain a better understanding of the workflow and know how to carry out and complete the process. As opposed to lengthy verbal instructions given to team members, a process map helps them understand the workflow quickly and effectively. By mapping out a process from beginning to end, stakeholders can get a better understanding of how the process works and also identify inefficiencies to improve process efficiencies.
A process map can also be used to visualize any type of process, but it is more common to use them for process analysis, training, process improvement, and integrations. Even the most complex process can be represented by way of a simple process map. Another example of using process maps is to communicate a complex process to the team that would otherwise be difficult to comprehend. Process maps are useful when you need to identify and address a recurring issue within the process or coordinate the responsibilities of multiple team members working on the process.
Creating a process map is simple and can be done on paper, whiteboards, or process mapping tools. A workflow automation software like Cflow provides a visual form builder that simplifies process mapping greatly. The easy-to-use drag-and-drop method for creating accurate process maps sets the field for automating the workflow.
The first step is to identify the process that needs to be mapped. The second step is to list out all the activities and write out the sequence of steps. Process maps are made up of different shapes and symbols to represent various types of tasks in the process. Arrows and connectors are used to show the flow of the process. Once the process map is complete, it should be run by all the stakeholders to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Review with stakeholders also makes sure that the process is devoid of any redundancies. Taking it further, the process map can be reviewed to spot inefficiencies, repetitive steps, and potential bottlenecks. This analysis helps identify areas of improvement and potential tasks that could be automated.
Process Mapping Techniques
The techniques used for mapping a process vary according to the nature and scope of the business. Process maps can be customized to match the needs and preferences of the business. There are certain common process mapping techniques that most businesses follow while creating process maps –
Plan the process map
Establish the boundaries of the process clearly so that only relevant information is included. Once the boundaries are set, the next step is to set the objectives. It is important to choose processes that have a defined and objective output.
Draft the process map
Once all the tasks in the process have been identified, you have to work backwards from output to input to understand the flow of tasks. Various shapes and symbols are used to represent tasks within the process. It is best to keep the sub-processes simple and include all the details of each task. Standardized notations throughout the process maps make it easy for everyone in the team to understand the process completely.
Review process maps
While preparing a process map, it is important to gather input from all stakeholders. For this reason, everyone on the team needs to be interviewed for their feedback. Detailed information from stakeholders helps identify alternative routes to be taken to meet a preferred condition. The current state of the process, which is not necessarily the perfect or idealized state, should be mapped out. Process improvements can be made by taking cues from current process findings.
Process mapping is an effective tool for documenting and improving your process. All the information gathered from stakeholders can be used for creating a workflow. Business process diagram examples throw light on key workflow processes that run a business. From simple to complex business processes, process mapping can be used to decode any business process. It could be a simple process like ordering new stock to a more complex process like 3-way invoice matching. These are all process mapping examples that can be effectively represented by way of flow diagrams.
Types of Process Maps with Business Examples
Process maps come in all shapes and sizes, based on the type of process being mapped. Although all process maps serve the same purpose, specific types of process maps may be better suited for particular projects. We have listed some of the common types of process maps that are simple process map examples.
These are the simplest and the oldest types of process maps. The basic business operations flow chart uses process mapping symbols to illustrate the inputs and outputs of a process, and various steps that complete the process. Flow charts are extremely useful in planning new projects, improving communication between team members, and modelling and documenting processes. Flowcharts are extremely useful in spotting issues solving problems in a current process and analyzing and managing workflows. A flowchart is an example of process mapping that is best suited for mapping a process from start to finish in a sequential manner.
One of the biggest benefits of using flowcharts is that you can easily modify them to fit any business function like administration, manufacturing, or even project planning. The best time to use a flowchart is when you want to provide an easy-to-understand example of a process. Flowcharts make it easy to spot areas of process improvement. A flowchart is an example of a process map that is easier for non-technical users to understand the process flow.
When creating a flowchart, you should –
- Focus on making the process clear, rather than a perfect process map
- Include key personnel involved in the process
- Gather input from individuals needed to complete the process
Example – A product manager intends to conduct research about customer’s desires. The team creates a basic flowchart to plan the survey. Most of the questions in the survey are represented as diamond/decision boxes to represent “yes” pr “no” answers. Based on the responses from the customers, the arrow takes them to the corresponding question or statement.
2. High-level Process Diagrams
A high-level process diagram or a top-down map provides an overview of the process. Steps in the diagram are limited to the essentials of the process and the map includes minimum details. These diagrams are used to define business processes and identify the steps involved. Process owners can use these diagrams to discuss the process with superiors or third parties, without revealing specifics of the operation. These diagrams are useful in communicating the essential steps of a process.
A high-level diagram typically includes 6-10 major steps that provide an overview of the process. These diagrams display the major blocks of activity and the major system components in the process. High-level diagrams are especially useful during the early stages of a project to help set priorities for improving the process.
Example – The project team comes up with a new proposal for adding a new feature to the product. They prepare a high-level process diagram that gives an overview of the process that is to be followed in order to add the new feature. The management is presented with high-level data on the new feature with the help of a high-level process diagram.
3. Detailed process diagrams
A detailed process diagram drills down into deeper details of the process. This diagram provides complete details of each step and subtasks as well. A detailed process diagram documents decision points and the input/output for each step. Going through the detailed process diagram helps users understand the process thoroughly and easily pinpoint areas of inefficiency and improvement. These diagrams provide a detailed understanding of a process, including all details and contingencies.
A detailed process diagram example provides a close-up view of the process. They are made up of dozens of steps that elaborate on every aspect of each task in the process. These flowcharts make it easy to identify complexities or excessive steps in the process. Each task in the process is assigned to the stakeholder responsible for executing it. These diagrams are usually shared within the team so that everyone is clear about their role in the process. Transparency and consistency during process execution can be improved with a detailed process diagram.
Example – Taking the above example further, a detailed process diagram is prepared by the team to include details on who works on which task, timelines for each task, inputs and outputs of each task, preset conditions for the process, etc. A detailed process diagram guides the project team at each step of the process.
4. Swimlane Diagrams
A swimlane diagram is also referred to as a cross-functional or deployment flowchart. This type of process maps delegates activities into swimlanes to designate who is responsible for each task. The map is divided into channels for each stakeholder involved in the process and lists each activity in the channel reserved for the particular stakeholder. Swimlane diagrams highlight the different roles involved in the process and interaction between stakeholders.
These diagrams are ideal for training employees in their roles and establishing accountability within the team. They can also be used to identify inefficiencies in the process like delays, redundancies, and potential failure points in the process. Swimlane diagrams are particularly useful in clarifying roles and responsibilities in a process with multiple stakeholders. Although Swimlane diagrams are similar to Flowcharts, there are key differences between the two types of process maps. Swimlane diagrams shape up in lanes that let the viewer know who is responsible for completing each step, like the automation process or department.
When preparing Swimlane diagrams you must keep in mind the following points –
- What is the source of information for each task?
- Is there anything that interrupts the Swimlane flow?
- Does a task need to be handed over to a different person or department?
- What is the data required to keep the process going?
- Will you need to wait for a decision/approval from someone before moving to the next step?
- Will the input be transformed into another format through the process?
Example – A toy business works with internal stakeholders and external customers. Tracking and handling customer service requests is one of the main tasks that this business carries out. A Swimlane diagram is used for accomplishing this, the rows in the diagram represent the different aspects of the customer service request process, such as, representation of the customer, clerk or service department. This diagram can be used to track different stages of a request to standardize how customer service is managed.
5. Value stream diagram
Another example of a process mapping diagram is the value stream diagram. This type of process map is a lean management tool that visualizes the process of bringing a product or service to the customer. Value stream maps tend to be more complex and use a unique set of symbols to illustrate the flow of information and materials necessary for the process.
Documenting process data like cycle time and the number of people involved in each step, value stream maps help identify areas where waste can be reduced to reveal opportunities for future projects. Value stream maps are best suited for describing the process of bringing a product to a customer and documenting quantitative data about the process
A value stream diagram can be considered as a detailed flowchart that documents individual steps within a process along with the information flow and related data inputs. You may even consider these diagrams as a more detailed SIPC diagram. VSMs are useful when you need to show how the functional changes add value to the current process. These diagrams are great at locating and eliminating redundant steps within the process. Once a VSM represents the current state of the process, a future state VSM can be created to include proposed improvements.
Example – A new program with the goal of increasing employees customer service skills is being created in an organization. This process is made up of several steps and involves many variables. A value stream map is the right process mapping technique to follow here, owing to the complexity of the program. The diagram helps identify focus areas of the training programs that need to be improved or eliminated.
6. SIPOC diagram
SIPOC stands for Suppliers, Inputs, Processes, Outputs, and Customers. A SIPOC diagram is more like a precursory step to crafting a detailed process map. A supplier is an organization or person that provides input to the process. Input is the resource that the supplier adds to the process. The process is a series of steps involved in converting input to output. Output is the resource that the process produces. The customer is the person or entity that receives the output.
This type of diagram is not so much a process map for identifying key elements of the process. The SIPOC chart should include 5 columns that cover the basic steps in the process, outputs, customers, inputs of the process, and suppliers of each input. It provides a more detailed description of the process and helps in defining the scope of complex processes. SIPOC diagrams are useful in identifying the key elements and stakeholders in a process.
A SIPOC diagram typically consists of 6-8 steps in total. This is an ideal tool used by project managers to provide a high-level view of the functions involved in the process. A SIPOC map can provide stakeholders with the information they need about each step and their dependencies.
A SIPOC diagram must convey
- Beginning and end of the process
- People/departments affected by the process
- Inputs go into the process
- Steps involved in completing the process
Example – Most processes in a car manufacturing company involve Suppliers, Customers, Inputs, Process, and Outputs. A SIPOC diagram can be used to map the inputs and outputs in the manufacturing process to identify important components of it. Each task in the process can be analyzed to ensure timely completion of tasks. All the stakeholders are also identified and included in the SIPOC diagram.
Why is Process Mapping Important?
Why should you map business processes in the first place? The main reason why business processes are mapped is to understand them better. The importance of business process mapping is –
1. Increased transparency
A flow chart or a process diagram helps users visualize the company’s production methods. Clear visualization of the process provides an opportunity for stakeholders to understand the process and give feedback. Take, for example, stakeholders who want to know how a company builds a product they are supporting. In this business process map example, a process map can show how the product is built from scratch. A process map enables organizations to remain transparent with stakeholders.
2. Improved process clarity
A process map clearly illustrates the steps of a task or activity, which improves the clarity of the entire process. Every team or department involved in a project can clearly see the workflow with a process map. A flowchart also improves clarity because it simplifies a project into smaller steps as compared to viewing the project as a whole. A stepwise view of the process makes it super easy to identify the loopholes in the process.
3. Improve communication
When visibility and clarity within the process are improved by mapping out the process, the communication between stakeholders is also improved. Armed with a process diagram, different teams can use it to discuss processes together and ask one another questions. The communication between teams and stakeholders is vastly improved with the use of process maps.
Process mapping brings standardization into the process. A clear process map ensures that a process is performed the same way every time. The errors or inefficiencies within production cycles can be identified quickly and effectively using process maps.
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Business Examples of Process Mapping
1. Service desk
Several organizations have automated part of their service desk workflows. Automating repetitive service desk tasks helps save money and provide efficient service to customers. Workflows need to route requests to the appropriate parties and provide a way to prioritize requests. Process diagrams for service desk requests are usually full of decision boxes that branch out to various paths based on “yes” or “no” outcomes of the task.
Recruitment has traditionally been a time-consuming and tedious task for the HR department. Recruiters are turning to automation solutions like RPA to sift through candidate applications, review and score candidates based on their performance in the pre-employment assessments, and share the score with the HR team. Effective automation can be done with the help of accurate process maps that represent each task in the process and its dependencies.
Procurement process can be complex and involve several tasks and sub-tasks. A procurement workflow begins when a request is sent to the purchasing department. From there the department investigates vendors, requests quotes, and chooses a vendor. Each of these tasks can be accurately represented by a process map.
Best Practices in Business Process Mapping
While preparing a process map, you need to bear in mind that the main focus is to map out each task accurately so that users can understand the process completely. Most of the process mapping examples discussed in this blog are primarily focused on visually representing the end-to-end process. There are some best practices that would help create effective process maps.
1. Keep it simple
The goal of process mapping is to provide visibility and understanding of the process. The mapping process must focus on keeping things simple so that they can be easily followed and understood by everyone.
2. Define objectives clearly –
It is a good idea to clearly write down what you are hoping to achieve through the process. Do you want to improve the quality of the output? Do you want to reduce costs? Do you want to automate?
3. Aim for the best output
Process maps need not necessarily be perfect, they need to be usable. Optimal outputs can be achieved by a streamlined process that is devoid of redundancies. The process map must include only the steps that are absolutely required in the process.
4. Map the current process completely –
It is important to create the “as-is” process map first before getting into the “to-be” process map. The “as-is” process map helps you understand the ins and outs of the process. This understanding helps you decide on the changes/improvements that need to be implemented.
The process mapping examples mentioned in this blog highlight the importance of mapping a business process to optimize it. Business process mapping examples provide crucial details on choosing the right process mapping method for the process. Cflow is a workflow automation solution that provides a visual process builder that helps build process maps from scratch. Creating a process map is easy and simple with the visual workflow builder from Cflow, which in turn simplifies the automation of the workflow.
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