3 process mapping tools you should be using at your company
By: Jill Huettich
More and more, executives are realizing that business process mapping is a critical activity that can make or break the success of an organization—and that’s especially true for companies that are looking to remain competitive in today’s global marketplace. What’s more, those same businesses are starting to realize that you need the right process mapping tools to get the job done.
So, why do business leaders view business process mapping as so critically important? Before we answer that, let’s first define what business process mapping is.
What is business process mapping?
Business process mapping is a way of visually defining what a business does, who is responsible for doing it, to what standard the process should be completed, and how to evaluate whether the process was performed successfully.
The reason business process mapping has grown in popularity is because leaders have discovered that by carefully thinking through all of these elements, they can eliminate potential problems or bottlenecks within a process, streamlining the overall efficiency of their organization.
For that reason, businesses in all industries rely on business process mapping for a variety of reasons. Most commonly, however, they tend to use it for training new hires, establishing company-wide standards, and as a mechanism for problem-solving.
Of course, before business process mapping can begin, it’s important to have the right tools in place. That’s what we’ll be covering in this article. In it, we’ll explain some of the business process mapping tools that are available today, so if you’re new to the world of business process mapping, you can easily get up to speed!
To kick things off, let’s first begin by defining what a process mapping tool is.
What are business process mapping tools?
Business process mapping tools makes it easy for businesses to get a visual overview of a specific process. For instance, a business process mapping tool lets users depict such things as:
- The starting and ending points of a process;
- Tasks and activities performed throughout the process;
- The flow of the process;
- Events that trigger the process to begin, end, or be redirected;
- Decisions that have the potential to change the flow of the process; and
- People or systems that perform tasks within the process.
With these elements clearly mapped out, it’s easy for new team members to quickly get up-to-speed on how the process unfolds. It’s also useful for businesses that want to implement a process used successfully in one department—employee recognition, for example—throughout the entire company.
Examples of process mapping tools
There are several different types of process mapping tools that a business can use, depending on what they’re trying to depict. In this section, we’ll provide some examples of process mapping tools that are commonly used by businesses to illustrate various processes:
We’re sure you’ve seen these before! A flowchart is a diagram that presents a process step-by-step. Each of those steps is displayed as a symbol containing a brief description. Flowcharts also rely on arrows to depict which way the process flows.
For example, here’s a MindManager flowchart illustrating a hypothetical eCommerce sales process. This outlines each of the steps a user make take when purchasing an item from the company’s website, including successful and unsuccessful paths.
In some flowcharts, the symbol that’s used to depict a task represents something specific. For instance, a diamond might represent a decision that needs to be made, an upside-down triangle is sometimes used to depict an actual computer file, and an activity is frequently represented by a square shape.
2. Concept maps
Another type of process mapping tool you may come across is a concept map. A concept map is a diagram that illustrates relationships between different concepts and ideas by displaying interlinked, visual representations of those ideas. They’re often used by designers, engineers, technical writers, and others to organize and structure knowledge and processes.
Ideas are laid out on a page, and lines are used to show connections, based on specific relationships. Those relationships are defined with linked phrases, such as “causes,” “requires,” or “can be.”
For instance, here’s an example of a concept map template that was created using MindManager:
This map template illustrates how concept maps can help you illustrate, explain, and understand various angles of a specific topic or process. Because relationships are shown in a clear, visual way, a concept map is a great way for people to form a more solid understanding of a complex topic.
Imagine trying to read a longwinded document that explains a process or concept. Not only would that reading material be cumbersome to plow through, but it would also take far longer to read about these inter-linkings than it would be to skim a concept map like the one we’ve displayed here.
3. Process maps
Like the other process mapping examples, a process map is a diagram that visually represents a process. These maps are good for explaining concepts or workflows to users who aren’t experts on a subject. Because things are explained visually, comprehension occurs more readily.
Generally speaking, process maps come in a variety of different shapes, even though they depict functions similarly.
For instance, within MindManager mapping software, there are a number of business process mapping templates. These templates make it extremely easy for companies new to business process mapping to create business process maps from scratch.
To better illustrate what we’re talking about, take a look at the image below depicting some of MindManager’s templates that can be used to create process maps:
You’ll note that the radial map, right map, and tree maps are all examples of process maps, even though they depict processes slightly differently.
If you look below, you’ll see an example of a process map that was created using MindManager:
This map illustrates the different process requirements at each stage of project execution. As you see, each phase of the project is mapped out with specific tasks and corresponding completion dates and lead times. This type of process map can be used to both illustrate the entirety of a project workflow, while also keeping track of task completion and timelines.
Here’s another example of a process map created using MindManager:
This process map outlines a finance process for inbound transactions. It’s a simple process map that show each stage of payment process, and also incorporates outstanding tasks related to that process. As you’ll see, the map includes resource allocations, task information, and budget calculations that transform this map from a simple illustration into a business process optimization tool.
As you can see, there are several different options you have available for business process mapping. However, regardless of which type of business process map you want to create, it’s important you have the right process mapping software.
That’s where MindManager mapping software comes in. With its easy-to-use business process mapping templates, it makes creating a business process map a breeze for organizations that are new to process mapping.