For any firm, streamlining and improving operations is a must. However, this is a difficult process that necessitates strategy, data, and a comprehensive understanding of the resources and steps required in each activity. Process mapping is an excellent tool for this.
It efficiently, clearly, and cleanly delivers information that could otherwise appear unconnected when shown graphically in a diagram. As a result, bottlenecks and redundancies are eliminated, resources are saved, and workflows are streamlined.
See what process mapping is, why it’s important for understanding workflows, and how to construct visual resources that accurately depict them in the next sections.
What is process mapping?
Process mapping is a task planning and management technique that depicts a process and the steps necessary to finish it.
While it can be presented in a variety of ways, it is also known as a flowchart and indicates who is engaged in a certain workflow as well as the resources required to execute the operations.
As a result, processes may be readily grasped by teams, allowing everyone to effortlessly integrate them into their daily routines. Essentially, a process map responds to three key questions:
- What are the tasks;
- Who does each task;
- In which order these activities are carried out.
What is the purpose of process mapping?
Certain processes must be carried out in a specific order and regularly. To avoid setbacks and promote efficiency, some processes, such as training a new employee or refilling supplies, must be scheduled and made predictable.
This is accomplished by visually capturing the optimum approach to complete jobs and recognizing repetitions, errors, and delays in workflows.
Furthermore, managers who visualize processes in the form of a diagram are more likely to see improvements and new ways of doing things, as well as increase communication inside an organization.
Where to start a process mapping diagram?
A diagram is the best approach to present a process mapping. Flowcharts are the most commonly used resource for this, however, there are other ways to map processes, such as thought maps and concept maps.
You can acquire a better understanding of how to improve processes and manage resources by utilizing images to explain critical steps in a process. A diagram also aids cooperation, solution generation, and presentation of work processes for the teams concerned.
However, mapping procedures are required before beginning to develop a diagram to visually express work routines. This necessitates the following:
- Identify a problem or process that needs to be mapped;
- List the activities and resources involved in the process;
- Look for redundancies;
- Define the sequence of steps necessary to complete the process.
Also, think about what you want to show before you start mapping and developing the material you want to present with clients, stakeholders, or employees.
Make a list of the process’s most important duties, but don’t go into too much detail because you want it to be simple and easy to reference. If necessary, some secondary tasks related to the major ones can be concealed and represented in separate documents.
Before you begin, decide whether or not features will be included in your diagram. If this is the case, highlight the most important ones or divide them into categories to make your diagram easier to understand.
The diagram symbols
There are a few different patterns that can be used to represent the elements in a process map. However, because the proposal is meant to be understood by a group of people, and not everyone is aware of the many patterns, the goal is to limit the diagrams to the most common ones.
You can also set aside a tiny portion of your diagram to explain what each format implies.
These are the five most common shapes in process diagrams, and they must be utilized with care to ensure that the content is understood correctly:
- Rectangle: represents an activity, step, or task;
- Diamond or diamond: represents a decision point, where it is possible to have two or more alternatives or paths;
- Parallelogram: represents the inputs and outputs;
- Arrow: represents a flow and the order in which events must happen;
- Pill: marks the beginning or end of a process.
Creating a flowchart is the most common approach to representing a process mapping. They are simple to comprehend, allow for the presentation of several sorts of process components and are simple to alter for any purpose and degree.
You may show who is accountable for each activity or combination of tasks, the timeframe in which they must be performed, the resources required, performance goals, and more with a flowchart.
How to create flowcharts for process mapping
Design consistency is an important consideration while constructing flowcharts. To provide a clean and professional appearance, shapes, sizes, and colors must be designed and consistently incorporated into the flowchart.
Furthermore, too much information, options, decision points, and stages must be avoided so that the flowchart communicates well and does not confuse the reader. Maintain consistency and correctly employ connectors: they must begin and end in the same location. Arrange decision points on the right side of the screen and avoid making too many turns.
Here are the steps to create a process mapping flowchart:
1. Choose an online tool and a template;
This will make the task simpler and guarantee a cleaner and more appropriate look for the represented process. Templates are also great for saving time.
2. Customize your flowchart
Add texts, lines, change colors to a group, or highlight steps. Add icons to represent tasks or resources, illustrations to make them look more appealing, and branding elements to better communicate with stakeholders.
Look at the flowchart with the eyes of someone who does not know the process you have just represented. See if something can be suppressed without compromising understanding or if something should be added to make the task clearer. Analyze if the look was harmonious if the lines are correctly connecting the tasks and decision points.
4. Share and Collect Feedback
You can share your flowchart online or as files, the important thing is to get feedback from readers to know if the content is useful, complete, and concise or if it needs changes.
Process mapping is a critical tool for streamlining processes, aligning teams, and streamlining workflows. Visuals and design are equally important for the greatest results.
Good diagrams will assist your firm in properly understanding and communicating the parts involved in the processes, as well as how they are related. So, use the many sorts of diagrams to organize your teams, develop plans, maximize resources, and increase flow inside your company.