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 these elements, they can eliminate potential problems or bottlenecks within a process, streamlining the overall efficiency of their organization.
Thus, businesses in all industries rely on business process mapping for a variety of reasons. Most commonly, 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. We’ll also explain some of the business process mapping tools that are available today.
To kick things off, let’s begin by defining what a process mapping tool is.
What are business process mapping tools?
Business process mapping tools make 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
- 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—positive employee recognition, for example—throughout the entire company.
Why are business process mapping tools important?
Business process mapping is an essential part of running an efficient organization. Lacking a visual representation of how predictable processes run in your business means that employees will never know which best practices to follow.
Without a predictable business process mapping tool, team members will often find themselves creating their own processes. This only leads to confusion and blame when task owners are not clearly assigned, and work is being duplicated.
Here are just some of the benefits of business process mapping:
- Clarity around processes
- Control over process functions
- Established operational norms
- Elimination of duplicate tasks
- Increased process visibility
- Better compliance with industry standards
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.
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 may take when purchasing an item from the company’s website, including successful, and unsuccessful paths.
Flowchart created in MindManager
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 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, 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 team members 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 understand than it would be to skim a concept map.
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.
Process maps come in a variety of different shapes, even though they depict functions similarly.
For instance, within MindManager, there are several business process mapping templates. These templates make it easy for companies new to business process mapping to create business process maps from scratch.
To better illustrate what we’re talking about, look at the image below depicting some of MindManager’s templates that can be used to create process maps:
Process map templates in MindManager
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:
Process map created in MindManager
This map illustrates the different process requirements at each stage of project execution. 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 illustrate the entirety of a project workflow, while also keeping track of task completion and timelines.
MindManager as a process mapping tool
A process map can help any business or organization define a specific job and the steps involved in it. By detailing the steps, you’re better able to make changes to your workflow and save time without losing quality.
There are several different options available for business process mapping. One of these tools is MindManager.
With its easy-to-use business process mapping templates, it makes creating a business process map a breeze for organizations that are either new to process mapping or want to enhance their current processes.
In MindManager, your process map can have as many details attached to each step as you need without having to go back and forth and move information around the map.