Any employee should know that process mapping is one of the essential tools in your toolkit. By understanding how processes work and flow, you can help businesses to optimise their operations and improve their bottom line.
Define process mapping and its benefits for businesses
Process mapping is a process improvement tool that helps businesses visualise their operational processes. They can connect some form of input to output, either to cover the entire process or perhaps as a detailed process map looking at critical elements within a process flowchart.
By creating process maps, companies can gain valuable insight into the critical elements of the processes and how well their process work by revealing visually the activities and flow of information between departments, teams and ultimately to their customers. Organisations can identify inefficiencies and redundancies, thereby allowing them to eliminate these to save resources and streamline operations. They are an essential part of any business’s continuous improvement activity.
Furthermore, business process mapping is beneficial for improving customer service and communication by providing a complete overview of each process within the company so that everyone involved is evident in the plan ahead. They help with root cause analysis when understanding where operations have gone wrong and why business process improvement activities are needed to fix key elements. In summary, process mapping offers an insightful way to understand our business processes and monitor process performance while helping organisations become more efficient and cost-effective.
Describe the steps involved in creating a process map.
Creating a process map is a beneficial way to gain insight into your team or organisation’s workflow. It helps guide problem-solving and structural conversations, increasing productivity, efficiency, and visibility. To create a process map, gathering your team to discuss the workflow and identify critical points in the journey is essential. Once you have recognised these points, you can begin mapping the steps between each end, which provides an overview of your system. Marking any areas of bottlenecks or inefficiencies can help make room for simplification and streamlining on the path to success. Lastly, reviewing the process map with stakeholders is essential to ensure alignment between all goals.
What are the different Types of Process Maps?
1) MICRO High-Level Business Overview
2) SIPOC – Level 2 Process Map
3) Value Stream Map & Swim Lane – Level 3 Process Map
4) Activity Map – Level 4 Process Map
There are four main levels of process mapping, each with its own benefits and applications. The first level is MICRO High-Level Business Overview which provides a high-level overview of the entire business system as it currently stands. This type of map allows you to quickly view all major processes within your organisation, giving you an overall picture of how key process elements link to the delivery of your produce or service to the customer.
The second level process map template we recommend is the SIPOC. The SIPOC stands for Supplier, Input, Process, Output, Customer and is brilliant early on in any project to align the goal of any business processes that you will create process maps for and define process boundaries.
At the third level, the Value Stream Map and the Swim lane are brilliant high-level process mapping techniques that can be used to understand complex processes from a high level. Value Stream Mapping and Swim Land process flows help to define process boundaries, identify bottlenecks, and highlight subprocesses for detailed process maps in level 4.
Value Stream Maps are high-level process maps designed to show the end-to-end flow showing how the current process is delivered to the end customer. It avoids the detail of sub-processes but provides insights into how the critical process steps are linked to overall customer value. Often, we start by producing a current value stream map, an As Is, and then redesign the flow to achieve some future state processes. By doing so, we can highlight issues and fix the potential process failure points.
The final Level process map is a more detailed process map we know as the basic flowchart. An activity map is a “detailed process map” that breaks down a complex low-level process to identify process wastes at the individual activity level. We use this level of a process map for detailed process analysis, designing a detailed “process flow diagram” to define business processes clearly. Where a high-level process map may help understand the overall flow within a department, the activity map is designed to show the low baseline level process map highlighting individual activities within a basic flowchart.
Business processes & Business Process Improvement
Our experience highlights that when organisations produce the workflow diagram, mapping about step by step process activities, we can find over 80% of waste in most processes. What this means is that by producing a baseline process map, getting people involved and breaking down the complex process workflows into detailed activity maps, not only do we get a better understanding of the individual process step each user is following, but we can identify waste where different people are doing the same process in different ways and where future projects lie to drive improvements. The benefits of process mapping should not be underestimated.
Offer examples of how businesses can use process maps to improve efficiency.
Process maps can be used in various ways to help businesses improve their efficiency. By analyzing a process map, in this case, an activity map, wastes in processes can be identified, revealing opportunities for greater efficiency. For example, companies may discover redundancies or bottlenecks hindering the production cycle; removing waste and optimizing the process can save time and cost.
Furthermore, as workflow becomes more efficient with the business process model approach, businesses can leverage these newly freed-up resources to develop innovative services or products for current or new markets. Ultimately, companies stand to benefit from increased efficiencies through decreased costs and the ability to stay competitive.
Discuss the importance of involving employees in the process mapping process
Involving employees in the mapping process is essential from a productivity, efficiency standpoint, and organisational development. It encourages active participation from individuals within the team as process mapping allows for opportunities for feedback and improvement. What might be taken away from process mapping conducted with the team is creative ideas revealing potential new solutions or improved process flow. Process mapping alongside the entire team also drives collective ownership with clear roles and responsibilities to ensure accountability and better decision-making. This type of organisational structure enables a culture of collaboration which can ultimately help increase employee satisfaction levels.
Process Mapping Software
Business process mapping software is a handy tool for businesses of all sizes, helping them to visualise their complex operations and analyse the data to optimise their processes. Process mapping tools provide a detailed visual representation of the steps taken when completing a task, allowing decision-makers to see where inefficiencies lie or pinpoint areas that need improvement.
These tools use various process mapping symbols to document the business process map. These process map symbols are shared across the different software solutions allowing teams to produce rendered process maps in specific process map templates.
Popular software programs like Visio, LucidChart and Miro are widely utilised in many industries to help align employees with current business objectives. Process mapping is not just about creating a diagram but also about understanding how tasks are connected and how operations fit into the bigger picture. With the right software, it is much easier for companies to identify opportunities for improvement, transformation and innovation.
Share tips for creating an effective process map
Creating a practical process map is not just about outlining a process on paper. It takes more than that to truly capture the ‘why’ of how operations work.
To get a clear understanding, you must walk the process to ensure that the detailed process captured in the rendered process map is what happens. The team must be involved, and everyone responsible for the outcomes – from every level of your team- must agree on the basic flow chart.
‘Gemba’ is a Japanese phrase which sums up this concept well: ‘the actual place’. Remind yourself to be in the field, walk through and observe processes as you create each step of your process map. Make sure to document decisions that arise out of Gemba walkthroughs to ensure all learnings are captured, and your process map remains comprehensive and up-to-date.
Download a process mapping template
Making process mapping simpler has become easier than ever before. With process mapping tools and templates widely available across the web, anyone can create process maps quickly and efficiently. Downloading a process mapping template is a great way to ensure that your process map is comprehensive. Most process mapping templates provide multiple levels of detail to capture the organisation’s flow of processes and information. Plus, many are designed specifically for process improvement initiatives and come with all the components assigned for easy customisation, such as tasks and activities, assignment roles, inputs and outputs, ownerships organised by responsibilities, and process KPIs. Downloading a process mapping template is a significant first step to capturing your organisation’s processes!
Process mapping has transformed the way businesses approach operational efficiency and improvement initiatives. Process maps can take a business from ordinary to extraordinary regarding organisational effectiveness from planning and design to implementation. Process mapping’s ability to empower employees while uncovering new efficiencies makes it an invaluable tool that all organisations should consider.
The focus of this blog post was to equip businesses with the tools and understanding needed to create effective process maps that accurately represent how work is completed, enabling clear communication and optimised processes. Understanding what’s involved in creating a process map, sharing tips for success, and offering examples of how businesses can use them were highlighted throughout this post.
Process Mapping software can be helpful, too, as they often provide templates that allow users with limited technical abilities to build successful maps. Moreover, the involvement of employees in the process mapping procedure holds critical importance for its success, as no process looks the same for different teams and individuals. Taking this into consideration, we should shift the focus from a top-down design towards one based on individual experience, emphasising clear communication between stakeholders at all levels of an organisation when setting up achievable timelines for task completion or adjusting goals where necessary.
To start your process mapping journey, download our FREE Process Mapping Template – this will help you bring structure and clarity to any project. If you want further advanced training on Process Mapping and to become equipped with Lean Six Sigma knowledge, join our Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt Training here!
We hope this blog helped you understand the basics of process mapping and how to create effective maps that capture organisational processes. Good luck on your journey to creating optimal operational efficiency!