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An insider guide to business process mapping

An insider guide to business process mapping

Process is an integral part of any business operations. The clearer and simpler these processes are, the better the performance of employees. 

Processes help employees better appreciate how tasks are done. At the same time, it ensures that things are in order in the company.  

This is where business process mapping comes in handy. Business process maps lay out in simple terms the step-by-step procedure of every aspect of the business. 

This article provides a comprehensive guide about business process mapping, what it can offer, and its different types. 

What is business process mapping?

Business process mapping is the visual representation of an enterprise’s internal and external operations. Its main purpose is to help all stakeholders to perform in sync. 

Normally, process maps appear in employee handbooks or standard operating procedures. In some cases, company websites have a section called FAQs where business maps are also included. 

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What is business process mapping
What is business process mapping?

Given the simplicity and straightforwardness of business process maps, HR departments usually use them to set the standard of work excellence. Deviance from these process maps can entail infraction reports that will reflect on the record of employees. 

Compliance with these guidelines is essential as the management treats them seriously as its goals and direction reflect on them.

Business process mapping features 

Here are some common features that can be found in business process maps: 

Task-oriented

Business process maps are made up of different individual tasks. These tasks can be department, company-wide, or employee-specific.

The key variable is the sequence of activities that should be accomplished for a specific task to be considered done. The sequence of activities is normally repetitive and part of a normal day-to-day operation that the new one can follow even if the current employee resigns. 

General

Employee attrition is normal and happens at any time of the business year. Despite this, business process maps remain the same even if various employees hold the post. 

This logic is applicable across the board and at different levels of management. 

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Time-bound

There is a definite start and end for each process. The end of a process will entail the start of a chain of tasks that can be done simultaneously or in succession. 

Whatever it is, business process mapping has a clear time frame which allows for it to be assessed and improved in the future. 

Business process mapping vs. modeling

More often than not, business mapping is interchanged with business modeling. Both entail fleshing out details and identifying crucial steps that make up an operation. The difference lies in the medium used.

Business process mapping can be executed in any medium. It can be through paper, a tablet, or a whiteboard. Meanwhile, due to its complexity and unique needs, business process modeling is always done through software as it requires automation. 

Business process mapping vs modeling
Business process mapping vs modeling

Types of business process maps

Below are the common types of process maps used both in the professional and academic setting:

Flow charts

This is the most common type among all process maps. It is a clear-cut collection of arrows and boxes, all leading from a defined start to an end. These kinds of charts can be hand-drawn on paper or boards. 

Microsoft Office is another medium used in creating flow charts, especially for SOPs and technical manuals. Others use Adobe Photoshop but are usually exclusive to those who wish to print these processes into a tarpaulin. 

The main advantage of this map is its simplicity and familiarity. At the same it, its downside is the lack of flexibility which can be challenging to some having difficulties considering various steps to a complicated process. 

Diagrams

Diagrams have similarities with flow charts. It has shapes, lines, and a direction for employees to follow. What sets it apart is it is more holistic. 

Steps are divided, and process owners are identified. This makes it easier for departments and teams to understand the level of interaction required from each of them. 

This also makes it easier to identify the point person involved during company projects. Diagrams create better synergy and appreciation that all departments and employees are aligned to one goal. 

Stream map

This type of process map is technical. Usually used in lean six sigma applications, this is hardly shown to any employees or manuals. 

As the goal is to optimize and explain the available options in detail, it is difficult to make sense of it. This in-depth tool is usually for planning and management purposes. 

Benefits of business process mapping

The main benefit of business process mapping is it promotes efficiency and effectiveness in the office. 

It creates a culture of excellence that supports the growth ambitions of the management. Once this culture thrives, it is easier for companies to scale. 

Benefits of business process mapping
Benefits of business process mapping

Other benefits of this activity includes:  

  • A clear understanding of the process within the company 
  • Control of how the process is performed on a systematic basis
  • Establishment of acceptable best practices and norms
  • Leaner operations leading to fewer redundancies
  • Heightened awareness of processes
  • Industry standards are better achieved
  • Improved employee training and development

The list is not exhaustive. There are various benefits that business process mapping offers. Depending on the goal and the nature of the company, its impact can be felt in a lot of ways. 

5 best practices to apply in business process mapping

The thought of optimizing business operations to various process maps can be thrilling. However, not all process maps are effective. Some, if not planned and thought of carefully, can lead to more confusion.

Below are five best practices companies can consider in creating their own process maps:

Keep it simple

The simplest approaches are often the most effective ones. The main goal is to elicit compliance. 

If process maps are complicated, they will generate confusion and inconsistencies defeating the whole point of optimization. 

Stay up to date

Circumstances change. Revisiting process flows regularly will enable the company to address any issues, ensuring optimal performance for all. 

There are instances where a better approach is discovered during the conduct of the process. This can be incorporated into the process, keeping it dynamic and open to growth. 

Identify the purpose

The overall goal of the process should be the guiding force behind the mapping. Is it for end-users or employees? The nature of the mapping will determine the overall direction of the process, so be clear with the goal. 

Be as reasonable as possible

While the goal is to optimize processes, it does not entail deadlines to be pushed to extreme standards. Having realistic and reasonable expectations is necessary for it to work. 

One step at a time

There will be exceptions or sub-tasks to any process. Taking all into consideration will impede progress. Start with the most common steps and situations and build from there.  

Why use business process mapping?

Business Process Mapping supports the overall objective of companies to maximize their profitability. Identifying the best possible approach to accomplishing tasks in the least possible time with the least amount of resources is beneficial. 

This practice allows for a workplace culture that is more open, accepting, and receptive to growth. With clear processes, assessing compliance with industry standards and making the necessary adjustments for any of its lapses is much easier.

To better understand business process mapping, we at Outsource Accelerator help companies of all sizes find the best partner for their business requirements. 

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About Derek Gallimore

Derek Gallimore has been in business for 20 years, outsourcing for over eight years, and has been living in Manila (the heart of global outsourcing) since 2014. Derek is the founder and CEO of Outsource Accelerator, and is regarded as a leading expert on all things outsourcing.