Learn about process mapping, a method which promotes a better understanding of processes and the identification of areas of improvement.
Process mapping visually represents a workflow, allowing team to understand a process and its components more clearly. There are a variety of process maps, and you may know one by a different name, such as a flowchart, a detailed process map, a document map, a high-level process map, a rendered process map, a swimlane, a value-added chain diagram, a value-stream map, a flow diagram, a process flowchart, a process model or a workflow diagram. These visual diagrams are usually a component of a company’s business process management (BPM).
A process map outlines the individual steps within a process, identifying task owners and detailing expected timelines. They are particularly helpful in communicating processes among stakeholders and revealing areas of improvement. Most process maps start at a macro level and then provide more detail as necessary.
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There are several different types of process maps. Some of mapping techniques include:
Process maps use visual representations, such as basic symbols to describe each element in the process. Some of the most common symbols are arrows, circles, diamonds, boxes, ovals and rectangles. These symbols can come from the Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) or Unified Modeling Language (UML) (link resides outside IBM), which are graphical methods of notation for process maps.
Most organizations will need to use only a few of the most common symbols to complete a process map. Some of these symbols include:
When developing your own business process map, you’ll want to leverage this methodology:
For more tips on how to create an effective process map, read this blog.
The primary purpose of business process mapping is to assist organizations in becoming more efficient and effective at achieving a specific task or goal. It does this by providing greater transparency around decision-making and process flow which in turn helps to identify redundancies and bottlenecks within and between processes. Since process maps leverage visual cues and symbols, they make it easier to communicate a process to a broad audience. This can lead to increased engagement, as long-form documentation can be more tedious for both owners to create and for end users to consume.
By leveraging pre-made templates within process mapping software, teams can easily collaborate and brainstorm ways to streamline work processes, enabling business process improvement. In doing so, businesses can also better address specific challenges, such as employee onboarding and retention or declining sales.
Some specific benefits of process mapping include:
Instead of utilizing long-form documentation, streamline your workflow with software programs, like IBM Blueworks Live, which can help customize your process map to your business needs.
IBM Blueworks Live is a cloud-based business process modeling tool that provides a dedicated, collaborative environment to build and improve business processes through process mapping automation. IBM Blueworks Live makes it easy to document, analyze and improve your business processes. Teams can collaborate in real-time through an intuitive and accessible web interface, which enables easy documentation and analysis of processes.
For more information on process mapping, sign up for a free IBMid and create your IBM Cloud account.