Business Process Mapping In 7 Simple Steps

Gary
Gary
1st April 2020

Business Process Mapping In 7 Simple Steps

Each company functions with a specific business process. If you can understand that process better and the impact it has on an organization, then you can manage your business a lot better as well.

Business Process Mapping is what it’s all about. If you can visualize the business processes of your company, then you’ll have more understanding of how it functions. You’ll also understand its strengths and weaknesses too. Once you obtain all this knowledge, you can increase your company’s productivity and help it run more efficiently.

Why Do I Need Business Process Mapping?

You need Business Process Mapping in order to visualize all the processes of a business. It gives you a clear picture of the function of a business and the way it operates. The introspection is by far the best advantage of Business Process Mapping. Aside from helping you to understand the way in which your business operates, Business Process Mapping can also help you with the following:

  • Business Process Management: BPM is when you keep evaluating your business processes to determine their level of efficiency. You must map out the process to do this successfully.
  • Business Process Improvement: BPI is when you figure out which business processes are wasteful or inefficient. Once you identify them, you take steps to make them better.
  • Business Process Reengineering: BPR is when you utilize the latest practices or technologies to implement big improvements to the older business processes. Sometimes you’ll even replace those processes altogether.

In 1921, Frank Gilbreth and Lillian Gilbreth were the first people to introduce a process flow chart to the public. According to the Gilbreths, each process detail is affected in some way by all the other details of the process. That is why the whole process needs to be presented visually prior to any sub-divisional changes being made.

Symbols and graphics are used in the process flow chart to signify the activity flow within a business process. Once the American Society of Mechanical Engineers learned this information from the Gilbreths, it became a standard practice amongst most American industrial engineers.

Procter & Gamble was the first company to implement Business Process Mapping into their organization. Art Spinanger was responsible for this after an industrial engineer named Allan H. Morgensen introduced it to him. Morgensen’s teachings were based on what the Gilbreths originally proposed.

Various Kinds of Business Process Maps

You can choose from a variety of different business process maps that are available. Each map has its advantages and disadvantages. They are as follows:

  • Process Flowcharts: Process flowcharts are the most commonly used business process maps. They best reflect the process flow charts that were originally introduced by Gilbreths. Process flowcharts used to be drawn by hand, but modern technology now allows you to create them with computer software like Microsoft Office. However, the biggest disadvantage is that process flowcharts are not very adaptable or flexible. But since they’re so familiar to people, process flowcharts are going to continue to be around for a long time.
  • Swimlane Diagram: Swimlane diagrams operate like generic flowcharts. The only real difference is that Swimlane diagrams assign steps to various individual people or teams. They take responsibility for their assigned steps of the process. If a business process must be mapped out, then Swimlane diagrams can make this happen very clearly.
  • Value Stream Map: Value stream maps are good flowchart alternatives to applications of lean six sigma. Although, you cannot merely glance at the maps in order to analyze and understand them. You have to spend more time to study the depth of the process when you look at the map. This may be more useful to some people, but not to others who want to do things faster.
  • Supplier Inputs Processes Outputs Customer (SIPOC): SIPOC is an extremely simplified process map that focuses on the most important elements and people of the business process while ignoring 99% of the other details.
  • Business Process Management Software: You can use this software to track the post-mapping of the business processes. You’ll learn about the performance status of the process and whether there were any deadlines that were missed or bottlenecks that were present. Employees can utilize this software to track their daily to-do list and the various tasks that must be done. Business process optimization is simplified with software because it lets you know when something has a problem and where the problem is located.

The Advantages of Business Process Mapping

Your company can benefit a lot from business process mapping. If it doesn’t utilize business process mapping, then you could be throwing money away.

Here are some of the advantages of business process mapping:

Role Visualizations

Sometimes people don’t understand everything that is happening with a particular process. Perhaps they don’t know who is leading the process or why no recent reports about it are being released. If they have questions about the business process, then it helps to have a visualization of each person’s responsibilities in that process. That way, it is clear who does what and why. A business process map allows this type of visualization to take place.

Problem Solving

It is easy to find the problem because it will probably be obvious to everyone. The trick is to find the source of the problem, which is more challenging. The whole process is visualized with a process map, so this can make it easier to find out where that problem came from.

Risk Management

Once you find out the causes of the problems, then you need to use business process mapping to locate any potential risks of future safety issues, legal issues, or health issues within your company.

For instance, if you fail to abide by some government regulation in one of your steps, then it could be very bad for your company down the road. It might make your workplace a hazardous environment that could potentially endanger your workers. If the government finds out that you were non-compliant, then they’ll fine your company.

Therefore, process mapping is great for providing evidence of your company’s compliance with government regulations.

Implementing the Greatest Practice

A company that has utilized and optimized business process mapping can use it as evidence of the greatest practice available out of all the processes. Then you can have more consistency in the function of your business processes while rewarding employees who put in the greatest effort. But if you have an underperforming business process, then it is better to test out various methods of using it.

Reveal the Main Objectives

Large companies that have more than a few staff members will eventually develop a silo mentality as time goes on. This is where staff members of the upper and lower positions start to forget the main objectives of the company.

Business Process Mapping ensures that all staff members don’t forget the main objectives of the company because the steps to achieve them are visualized clearly. Your employees will have a clear understanding of what is happening in the organization each day and over a longer period of time. If employees can have a better understanding of these things, then it is easier for the company to achieve its overall goals and objectives.

The Top 7 Steps to Implement Business Process Mapping Successfully

Here are the steps to establishing Business Process Mapping in your organization successfully.

#1 – Figure Out Which Process You Want to Map

All business processes should be mapped out. However, you need to pick a process to start mapping first. We recommend that you choose the most important process for your business. Then you can keep track of how well the process improves. You can choose the process by following these three methods:

Reactive Method

When you have a failing or underperforming process because of bottlenecking, then you would use mapping to identify and fix the problem.

Strategic Method

When you’re changing the entire strategy of your business, then you will select a new process that will be vital for achieving the goals of your organization. You will map out the new process with this method.

Customer-Based

When you map a process to improve customer satisfaction and remedy any issues with customer satisfaction in your organization, you can give your customers something better.

#2 – Bring the Project Team Together

You may think you know everything about your business, but it is important to heed the advice of your field employees who are associated with the particular process. Any input they provide is highly valuable, especially since they could have good ideas on the best ways to enhance the processes and make them better.

No one likes to go through change. Some field employees may actually feel threatened by a new process mapping agenda because it could result in someone losing their position. But if you involve your field employees in the new process mapping agenda, then it gives them a chance to cast their own voices and to talk about what they’re afraid of.

Try to get a senior manager to join your team too. Then you won’t need to request approval from management for every little change you want to make. You can try convincing your field employees of the positivity of change by utilizing change management models. Some of which include the Bridges Transition Model or the ADKAR model. Then your employees can become more accustomed to change.

#3 – Collect Information

After you have identified your objectives and the process you want to map out, the next step is to collect the necessary information. You must identify and record each step of the process, including which employees do what, when do they do it, and how do they do it. The more details that are collected, the more you can create an all-inclusive process map. More information is always better than less information in the beginning. You can always filter down the information later if some of it is irrelevant.

#4 – Interview Important People

Collecting information means you need to talk to relevant people and ask them about their understanding of the whole process. Use the information they provide to locate problems and opportunities that can help you improve the process.

Staff members will always have their own opinions about the way in which things operate. You must listen to what they have to say because you can understand the process better from hearing a different point of view.

#5 – Baseline Business Process Map

When you have all the required information, the next step is to create the baseline business process map. This map outlines the way in which the process operates right now. It’ll show any issues or flaws that are present, so you know which improvements to make to it. Let the baseline business process map serve as evidence of what you need to improve and change. If you end up designing another process map, compare the new one to the old one so that you can see how it was improved.

We recommend you use Business Process Mapping software to create your map because it makes the design process so much easier, flexible and consistent. The software has the necessary tools for you to evaluate the findings.

Below are that standard components of a Business Process Map that you must include.

  • Process – The total workflow.
  • Tasks – The workflow has steps or tasks that must be completed by a staff member.
  • Flows – The arrows and lines of the workflow which connect one task to another.
  • Events – The gateways or triggers which start, end, or redirect a process.
  • Participants – Every system or person that participates in the process.

#6 – Evaluate and Identify the Areas That Can Be Improved

When your process map is ready, that doesn’t mean the work stops. You must continue to learn from the map and make any necessary improvements if needed. Based on your past evaluations, you may have discovered a few flows within the process. But the map makes it easier for you to find more flows.

As you move forward, you will conduct business process improvement and business process reengineering to enhance the process. After you learn how that works, you can use a smaller scale to implement the latest processes. If the new processes are better than the previous processes, then apply the new processes to your entire organization. If you have any employees that have trouble getting used to the new processes, then you can create a new process map to help them get by.

#7 – Keep Track of the Improvements

Keep track of all the improvements that were made to your processes. That is the best way to recognize their flaws and make the necessary improvements to them.

Final Words

By this point, you should understand process mapping quite well. Now you must take action by implementing process mapping within your company.