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Business Process Mapping

Mapping out each and every process in a workflow is the best way to optimize operations at any organization. Business process mapping is a detail-oriented exercise that should account for all subprocesses, processes and workflows.

An accurate process map is essential for the successful implementation of improvements and alignment of workflows with the goals of a business process model. Learn more about how workflow management software helps stakeholders map processes along with several process mapping examples that involve improving or reengineering workflows for optimal productivity.

What Is Process Mapping?

Process mapping accounts for all organizational activities, from the actions and tasks of which sub-processes consist up to the sequential processes that comprise a workflow. Business process maps are analytical and conceptual documents useful for internal or external auditing.

Business process maps dovetail with large-scale process models to provide full documentation of organizational operations. Maps break down processes into the subprocesses, whereas models extrapolate on maps to direct workflows toward larger goals.

Process mapping and modeling are useful for ongoing business process management and are crucial to the success of any improvement or reengineering project. Maps should account for every step of every process in workflows. An accurate process map can allow stakeholders to pragmatically assess cost-effectiveness and efficiency and make more informed decisions regarding practices that contribute toward productivity.

Methods for Mapping Processes

Business process mapping originated in the early 20th century and has been refined over decades, initially in terms of methodology, and later, technology. Flow process charts, which originated in mechanical engineering, were the first structured approach to process mapping.

In 1921, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers published a book by Frank Bunker Gilbreth titled “Process Charts – First Steps In Finding the One Best Way.” Engineers started to be trained to map processes, and these methods were carried over into the business world by mid-century.

Allen H. Mogenson laid out the basic principles of process mapping in a series of Work Simplification Conferences. Two early business process mapping examples include the Deliberate Methods Change Program at Proctor and Gamble and information processing initiatives at Standard Register International. Most approaches to process mapping account for the following stages:

  • Breaking Down Business Processes: Identify each and every action, task and sub-process that unite to form the processes in a workflow.
  • Gathering Accurate Workflow Data: Account for the what, who, where and when of discrete and collective processes.
  • Mapping Out Business Processes: Convert observations into a flow chart or another format of process map.
  • Analyzing Business Process Maps: Challenge each step of a process map with a what-why, who-why, where-why, when-why and how-why approach.
  • Developing and Implementing Changes: Find ways to optimize productivity by combining or rearranging steps, making improvements or re-engineering.
  • Managing Ongoing Business Processes: Update a map as you implement changes and monitor productivity levels for individual processes and end-to-end workflows.

These six measures form the basis for business process improvement. As such, process maps can be used to clarify process performance standards, workflow expectations during training or requirements for regulatory compliance.

Six Sigma practitioners incorporate process mapping methodology into business process architecture. This approach involves the creation of cross-functional flowcharts classified between the levels of zero and four based on the amount of detail. A level four map might include hundreds of steps under each task, while a level zero map more closely approximates a broad business process model.

Planning improvements or more comprehensive business process reengineering can be much easier with an accurate, complete and current process map. The International Organization for Standardization standard 9001:2015 for Quality Management Systems encourages a process-oriented approach to quality management.

The latest innovations in business process methodology are technology-driven. Software tools make it possible to automatically generate audit trails and records of transactions for internal or external analysis. Fluix workflow management software makes it possible to create more robust process maps and implement improvements such as digital or intelligent process automation.

Elements of Process Maps

Business process maps are more granular than process models. In order to contribute toward operational analysis and improvement, a process map should account for the actions taken by workers, automated functions, tasks and series of tasks of which the sub-processes and processes in a workflow consist.

A business that does process mapping should account for every stage of the operational process. For example, a manufacturing firm might map out every step of a workflow in detail, from material acquisition or supply to storage, production, distribution and sale. Other types of enterprises might have different process map stages and unique process model objectives.

The Best Process Mapping Tools

Process maps and models made with a workflow management platform are more actionable than abstract models. Fluix makes it easier to identify sub-processes through transaction records and take measures toward improvement with partial or full automation and other optimization utilities.

A cutting-edge workflow management system excels at helping stakeholders optimize operational performance. The best solutions are intuitively designed and do not require extensive coding to automate actions, tasks or other aspects of processes to enhance workflow productivity. Analytics and reporting features can clearly identify key performance indicators that stakeholders can compare with the objectives set forth in a process model and use to guide business process improvement or reengineering efforts.

Business process mapping is a granular-level approach to business process management. Ready availability of audit trails or transaction logs can allow for more accurate and complete process maps. The Fluix workflow management program empowers organizations to manage and improve processes with accessible automation and a full suite of user collaboration, distribution and analytics tools. Request a free trial to see how any organization can optimize productivity through mapping, modeling, improvement or reengineering and ongoing business process management.

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