Process Map: How to Create

Process Map: How to Create

Have you ever had a great idea but didn't know where to start with it? The solution to this is to structure your ideas and draw up a concrete plan.
Process mapping can be helpful in process organization. The process mapping is similar to a work breakdown structure. It is a visual representation of the workflow and can help you identify problems and areas for improvement.
Process mapping can be helpful when brainstorming, making decisions, or planning projects as part of a team. The resulting process maps (also called process maps) are also useful for process documentation, training new employees and process improvement.

What is process mapping?

Process mapping is a method to visually represent workflows and processes. A process map is created, which is also referred to as a flowchart, process flow diagram or flowchart.
The purpose of process mapping is to summarize how a process works. In this way, every team member can understand how a certain process works without having to explain it. By mapping the process from start to finish, you can better understand how it works and identify inefficient operations or make improvements.
Process maps are used to visualize all types of processes, but most often for process analysis, training, integrations or process improvements. They are useful when you depict a complex process, highlight a recurring problem within a particular process, or need to coordinate the responsibilities of multiple team members.
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Why should you use a process map?

Process mapping enables you to concretise ideas and optimize processes by visually depicting the necessary steps.
Here's how process mapping could help you and your team:
• Uncover inefficiencies: Helps you identify bottlenecks, gaps and other problems in a process flow.
• Simplify ideas: Break complex ideas down into smaller steps.
• Increase understanding: Creates a better understanding of a process.
• Plan contingencies: take the unforeseen into account and help solve problems.
• Delegating responsibilities: Coordinates responsibilities between different people or units.
• Create documentation: Enables the process to be documented.
• Communicate clearly: Simplifies communication with a user-friendly, visual format.
• Decide Faster: Enables faster decision-making through faster communication.
• Support employees: Improves employee performance and satisfaction.
• Compliance with standards: Helps companies comply with ISO 9000 and ISO 9001 standards.

How to create a process map

It is easy to create a process map, either on paper or with the help of workflow management software and templates. The following steps explain how to build a process map from scratch.

Step 1: Identify a problem or process to be mapped

First, determine the process that you want to map. Is there an inefficient process that should be improved?, A new process that you would like to convey concisely to your team?, A complex process that colleagues often have questions about? Determine and name what you want to depict.


Step 2: Make a list of the relevant activities

Document all of the tasks required to complete the process. The order does not matter at this stage. Just make a list of all activities and their respective responsibilities.
It's a good idea to work with teammates and other key stakeholders in the process so that you can accurately consider all of the steps required and determine the level of detail required. Also, make sure you define where and when the process starts and ends - that way you know what tasks need to be included to get the result you want.

Step 3: Record the sequence of the individual steps in writing

Now that you've compiled a list of all the activities, you need to arrange them in the correct order until the whole process is shown from start to finish. Now is also a good time to check if you missed anything in the previous step.

Step 4: Draw a flowchart using process mapping symbols

Choose an appropriate format for process mapping and record the process. Use process mapping symbols to represent the individual steps. There are around 30 standard symbols that you can use to represent various elements of a process. We will explain the most common of these in more detail in this article.


Step 5: finalize and share the process map

When you have drawn your process map, discuss it with other key stakeholders to make sure everyone understands and agrees with the process being portrayed. Make sure that no steps have been left out and that there are no redundancies or ambiguities.

Step 6: Analyze the overview to find areas for improvement

After you have verified that the process map accurately reflects the process workflow, you can evaluate it to find ways to improve the process.

With the help and feedback from your team, you can now determine where bottlenecks and inefficiencies are. Which steps can be eliminated? Which tasks can be done more efficiently? Once you identify these areas for improvement, take appropriate action and then revise the process map to implement the improvements.Process Map: How to Create10


Types of process maps

Process overviews come in all shapes and sizes. They all serve the same purpose, but certain types are better suited for certain projects. Here are some of the most common types of process maps.

1- Flowchart

The simplest form of a process map is a simple flowchart. It uses process mapping symbols to illustrate the inputs and outputs of a process and the steps necessary to complete the process.
Simple flowcharts can be used to plan new projects, improve communication between team members, model and document processes, solve problems in ongoing processes, and analyze and manage workflows.
Best for: Showing the flow of a process from start to finish, usually in sequential order.

2- General process map

A general process map, also known as a top-down model or value creation model, provides a general overview of a process. The steps are limited to the essentials and the overview does not go in depth.
A general process map can be used to define business processes and identify their key steps. Such process maps are also useful for discussing processes with superiors or third parties who do not need to know the details of the process.
Best For: Communicating the key steps in a process.


3- Detailed process map

In contrast to the general process map, a detailed process map contains all the details for each step and also includes sub-processes. It documents the point in time at which decisions are made, as well as the inputs and outputs of the individual steps. This process map offers the most comprehensive overview of the depicted process and, due to its high level of detail, is most effective in identifying inefficiencies.
Best For: Providing a thorough understanding of a process, including all of the details and contingencies.

4- Swim-Lane Map

A Swim-Lane map, also known as a cross-functional flowchart or deployment flowchart, arranges process activities in Swim-Lane to determine who is responsible for each task. The map is divided into channels for each key participant in the process. Each activity is listed in the relevant participant's channel. This type of process map illustrates the different roles involved in the process and the interaction between the key stakeholders.
Swim-Lane Maps are ideal for teaching employees their roles in a process and increasing responsibility. They are also useful for identifying inefficiencies in the process such as delays, redundancies, and potential obstacles to the process.
Best For: Clarifying the roles of multiple key stakeholders in a process.

5- Value stream overview

A value stream overview is a lean management tool that visualizes the process of delivering a product or service to the customer. Value stream maps are typically complex and use a unique system of symbols to illustrate the flow of information and material required by the process.
With the help of a value stream overview, data such as cycle times and the number of people involved in the individual steps can be documented. This in turn enables you to identify areas in which unnecessary processes can be reduced and identify possibilities for planning future projects.
Best suited for: Describing the way a product gets to the customer and documenting quantitative data about the process.


6- SIPOC diagram

The acronym SIPOC stands for Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs and Customers. A SIPOC diagram is less a process map than a diagram that identifies the key elements of the process and can serve as a preliminary stage for creating a detailed process map.
As the acronym suggests, the SIPOC diagram should contain five columns that encompass the basic steps and results of the process, the customers, the inputs and their respective suppliers. A SIPOC diagram is not only a basis for a more detailed process map, but also helps in defining the scope of complex processes.
Best For: Identifying key elements and stakeholders in a process.

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Process mapping icons

In process mapping, symbols from the Unified Modeling Language (UML) are used to represent key elements in a process map - for example, steps, decision points, inputs and outputs as well as the team members involved.
These are the most common symbols used in process mapping and how they are used:
Start or end point (terminator): Ovals mark the beginning and the end of the process.
Process step: A rectangle represents an activity or task in the process.
Process: Arrows connect steps in the process and show the direction of the process.
Decision: A diamond indicates a point at which a decision must be made, usually with “yes” or “no” options branching off from that point.
Delay: A D-shaped symbol indicates a delay in the process.
Document: A rectangle with a wavy lower edge represents a document or information that can be read. Multiple documents are indicated by a symbol consisting of wavy rectangles one on top of the other.
Data: A parallelogram represents data that is an input or output of a process step.
Manual entry: A rectangle with an inclined top edge represents a step in which data must be entered manually.
Sub-process: A rectangle with double vertical lines indicates a sub-process that is defined elsewhere.

Process mapping methods

You can customize process maps to suit your needs and preferences, but there are also general tips that you should keep in mind when modeling for the greatest possible efficiency. Here are some process mapping best practices to get you started:

Plan your process map:
Set the boundaries of the process so that only necessary information is included.
Set clear goals for the process.
Only depict processes that have a clearly defined, objective result.
Design your process map:
Work backwards from the outputs to the inputs.
Keep the sub-processes as simple as possible.
Record all the necessary details - nothing more, nothing less.
Use standardized characters so that everyone involved can understand the overview at the same time.
Check your process map:
Get feedback from everyone involved in the process.
If necessary, show alternative ways of achieving a desired state.
Map the process in its current state, not a perfect or idealized state, and make improvements from there.
Apply these tips at every stage of your process mapping so that you can make your process maps as effective as possible.


Process mapping icons

In process mapping, symbols from the Unified Modeling Language (UML) are used to represent key elements in a process map - for example, steps, decision points, inputs and outputs as well as the team members involved.
These are the most common symbols used in process mapping and how they are used:
Start or end point (terminator): Ovals mark the beginning and the end of the process.
Process step: A rectangle represents an activity or task in the process.
Process: Arrows connect steps in the process and show the direction of the process.
Decision: A diamond indicates a point at which a decision must be made, usually with “yes” or “no” options branching off from that point.
Delay: A D-shaped symbol indicates a delay in the process.
Document: A rectangle with a wavy lower edge represents a document or information that can be read. Multiple documents are indicated by a symbol consisting of wavy rectangles one on top of the other.
Data: A parallelogram represents data that is an input or output of a process step.
Manual entry: A rectangle with an inclined top edge represents a step in which data must be entered manually.
Sub-process: A rectangle with double vertical lines indicates a sub-process that is defined elsewhere.

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