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Navigating Business Process Mapping: Challenges, Benefits and Best Practices

Every business runs on numerous processes, from recruiting new employees and filing paperwork to delivering products or services. However, many of these processes are undocumented leading to a lack of coordination and communication between teams. Any adjustments to these processes are passed along by word of mouth and can not be measured.

However, a common saying holds true in the realm of business processes, ‘You can’t manage what you don’t measure.’ This statement shows the critical need for businesses to identify and map their processes and follow a systematic way of managing and improving them continuously using Business Process Mapping tools.

In this comprehensive guide, we will gain knowledge of the world of Business Process Mapping, exploring their benefits, features, and how they can revolutionise your business processes.

What is Business Process Mapping?

Business process mapping is a technique for designing detailed process steps to state how a process should function from start to finish using Business Process Modelling and Notation (BPMN) symbols. It consists of Tasks, Applications, Documents and Roles. Business Process is a visual representation of how different tasks, activities, and resources come together to fulfil this common organisational goal. The purpose of mapping business processes is to provide a detailed roadmap of a process to employees and stakeholders and help them make informed decisions.

At its core, business process mapping aims to answer fundamental questions about how work gets done within an organisation:

  1. What happens? It identifies the individual steps and activities involved in a particular process.
  2. Who is responsible? It assigns roles and responsibilities to individuals or teams involved in each step of the process.
  3. When does it happen? It shows the timing of activities, highlighting dependencies and bottlenecks.
  4. How is it done? It describes the methods, tools, and resources used at each stage of the process.

Benefits of Business Process Mapping

Business Process Mapping offers a myriad of advantages to organisations, making it an indispensable tool for modern businesses. Let’s explore some of the key benefits it brings:

Clarity of the End-to-End Process

A well-defined process contains 5-15 tasks and all these tasks are supervised by different people. Business process mapping tools offer the overall view of the process, such as how the process will function, who are the process owners, which task is dependent on and the problems that may arise while performing the task or procedures, to all the employees and stakeholders.

Systematic Control Over How the Process Functions

By mapping out processes, businesses gain precise control over each step and can identify where improvements are needed. This can help process owners and managers take relevant steps to achieve the goal of the process.

Standardised Documentation Across Organisation

Process mapping helps in setting standard documentation of procedures and best practices. When everyone follows a predefined set of guidelines, it minimises variations in how tasks are performed which helps in predicting the process outcomes.

Elimination of Non-Value-Adding Tasks

Through the visual representation of processes, companies can identify and eliminate non-value-adding tasks or bottlenecks that slow down operations leading to cost savings and increased productivity.

Increased Process Visibility

Business Process Mapping brings hidden or unnoticed processes to light which allows organisations to identify areas where resources can be better allocated with the utilisation of business process mapping tools, resulting in improved resource management.

Better Compliance with Industry Standards

Process Mapping helps ensure compliance by documenting the steps required for adherence to internal and external regulations and standards of the organisation and providing a clear path for audits and inspections.

More Uniform New Employee Training

For onboarding new employees, a well-documented process map serves as a valuable training tool. It provides a structured, visual guide that helps newcomers quickly grasp their roles and responsibilities.

How Business Process Mapping Helps Achieve Business Goals

The ultimate goal of every operation or process performed in an organisation is to achieve a common business goal which can be different based on the nature of the business. Business Process Mapping is an invaluable tool in this endeavour offering a structured and visual approach to understanding, optimising, and aligning all the processes with business goals. Let’s explore how it accomplishes this:

  1. Show How Processes Are Laid Out Visually

Process mapping allows businesses to present complex workflows and procedures in a visual and intuitive manner. When processes are laid out visually, it becomes easier for employees to understand how tasks need to be performed to gain better results from the process.

  1. Clearly Identify the Task

In a well-documented process map, each task is defined and labelled which ensures that there is no confusion regarding what needs to be done at each step. By removing confusion, teams can focus on their specific tasks without wasting time on guesswork, ensuring that efforts are aligned with the broader objectives of the organisation.

  1. Sets the Sequence of the Tasks and Its Deadline or Duration

Business Process Mapping establishes a clear sequence of tasks within a process. This sequence is kind of a roadmap, guiding employees through each step of the process in the correct order. Additionally, process maps can include deadlines or durations for each task, enabling teams to understand the time constraints associated with their responsibilities which ensures that processes are executed efficiently and on schedule.

  1. Identifies Exactly Who is Responsible for the Task

A well-constructed process map assigns specific roles and responsibilities, including the RACI matrix (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed), to individuals or teams which is a key driver in achieving business goals. It ensures that every aspect of the process is done by someone who understands their role and is dedicated to its successful completion. When employees know they are responsible for specific tasks, they are more likely to take ownership and perform at their best.

  1. Can Identify How Task Should Be Done

Process maps also include attached documents with detailed instructions or guidelines on how each task should be performed which regulates consistency in operations. These documents enable employees to understand and execute their responsibilities with precision. Clear instructions reduce errors and rework, ultimately saving time and resources.

  1. Allows to Check the Results and Make the Changes If Needed

Continuous improvement is the most essential part of achieving business goals. Business Process Mapping facilitates continuous improvement by providing a mechanism for monitoring and evaluating results. You can use business process mapping tools to regularly review process maps, analyse performance metrics, and identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies, or areas where goals are not being met. The results can empower teams to make data-driven adjustments and optimisations to enhance processes and move closer to their objectives.

Types of Business Process Maps

Different types of business process maps are designed to serve distinct purposes in analysing, documenting, and optimising processes within an organisation. Let’s explore various types of business process maps and their applications.

  1. Flowcharts

Flowcharts are among the most common and widely used types of business process maps. They provide a visual representation of a process by using shapes and arrows to indicate the flow of activities and decisions. Flowcharts are versatile and can be as simple or complex as needed. They are suitable for capturing various types of processes, from straightforward linear processes to more intricate, decision-driven workflows.

Applications: Flowcharts are effective for illustrating the sequence of steps in a process, identifying bottlenecks, and pinpointing areas for improvement. They are commonly used for process analysis, documentation, and training.

  1. Swimlane Diagrams

Swimlane diagrams, also known as cross-functional flowcharts, add an additional layer of complexity to traditional flowcharts. In swimlane diagrams, horizontal or vertical “lanes” represent different departments, individuals, or roles within an organisation. Each lane contains the activities or tasks associated with that specific entity, making it easier to understand the interactions and handoffs between different parts of the organisation.

Applications: Swimlane diagrams are valuable for visualising and improving cross-functional processes, highlighting accountability, and clarifying the roles of various stakeholders involved in a process.

  1. Value Stream Maps

Value stream maps are commonly used in Lean and Six Sigma methodologies to analyse and improve processes by focusing on value-added and non-value-added activities. They provide a holistic view of a process from the customer’s perspective, highlighting the steps that add value and those that introduce waste or inefficiency.

Applications: Value stream maps are ideal for identifying opportunities to reduce waste, streamline processes, and enhance overall process efficiency. They are often used in manufacturing and service industries.

  1. Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN)

BPMN is a standardised notation system for representing business processes graphically. It uses a set of symbols and elements to define process activities, events, gateways, and flows. BPMN diagrams offer a comprehensive and standardised way to document and analyse processes, making them suitable for organisations looking to establish consistent process modelling practices.

Applications: BPMN diagrams are widely used for process modelling, analysis, and automation. They are particularly valuable in IT and software development projects.

  1. Data Flow Diagrams (DFD)

Data Flow Diagrams focus on how data moves within a system or process. They use various symbols to represent processes, data stores, data flows, and external entities. DFDs are particularly useful for understanding the flow of data through complex systems or when designing information systems.

Applications: DFDs are commonly used in system analysis and design to model information flow, data transformations, and interactions between systems and external entities.

  1. Gantt Charts

While not exclusively a business process mapping tool, Gantt charts are useful for visualising project timelines and task dependencies. They provide a timeline view of project tasks and their start and end dates, making it easier to manage and track progress.

Applications: Gantt charts are commonly used in project management to plan and monitor project activities, allocate resources, and ensure projects stay on schedule.

Which Type of Business Process Mapping Technique is Right for Your Organisation?

The question of which type of business process map is best for organisations often depends on various factors, including the organisation’s size, industry, and specific goals. In reality, there is no one-size-fits-all answer, and the most effective approach often involves a combination of different types of process maps.

Smaller organisations or those with relatively simple processes may find traditional flowcharts or swimlane diagrams to be effective tools for understanding and documenting their workflows. These straightforward visual representations provide clarity and are easy to create and understand. On the other hand, larger organisations or those in industries with complex and highly regulated processes, such as healthcare or manufacturing, may benefit from more specialised process mapping techniques. Value stream maps can help identify waste and inefficiencies in manufacturing, while BPMN diagrams are well-suited for process automation in IT-related processes.

Moreover, organisations often need to consider the unique characteristics of their processes. Data Flow Diagrams (DFD) may be essential for systems where data flow is critical, while Gantt charts are indispensable for project management and tracking.

In essence, the best approach is to use a combination of these process maps based on the organisation’s specific needs. Flexibility in process mapping approaches enables organisations to adapt to changing circumstances and evolving industry standards, ultimately contributing to enhanced efficiency and competitiveness. Therefore, the combination of various process mapping techniques provides organisations with a versatile toolkit for optimising their operations.

Top Goals of Business Process Mapping

Business Process Mapping (BPM) is a critical tool in the arsenal of organisations aiming to enhance their operational efficiency and effectiveness. According to Global BPM Trends’ survey of 4,412 BPM professionals, the following goals represent the foremost objectives that BPM professionals strive to achieve through process mapping:

  1. Achieving Continuous Improvement

2,956 out of 4,412 BPM professionals consider continuous improvement as the primary goal of creating process maps. Organisations recognise that in today’s dynamic business environment, standing still means falling behind. Process mapping is essential for identifying bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and areas where improvement is needed. These maps serve as a roadmap for incremental enhancements, leading to better processes, reduced costs, and increased efficiency. By continually refining their operations, organisations stay competitive and adapt to changing market conditions.

  1. Facilitating System Implementation

The second most prominent goal, according to 1,985 BPM professionals, is preparing for system implementation. This highlights the critical role that process mapping plays in managing the complexity associated with adopting new technologies and systems. Organisations use process maps to document their current workflows and identify areas where the new system will impact operations. This aids in a smoother transition, reduces disruptions, and ensures that the new technology aligns with the existing processes.

  1. Enhancing Knowledge Management

Effective knowledge management, as emphasised by 1,941 professionals, is the third key objective of creating process maps. In the age of information overload, organisations need to preserve institutional knowledge and make it accessible to all employees. Process mapping helps document and codify this knowledge, ensuring it is not solely reliant on individual expertise. This supports the transformation of organisations into process-dependent entities, where the collective knowledge is systematically managed, leading to greater consistency and agility in decision-making.

Challenges of Business Process Mapping

Business Process Mapping (BPM) serves as the cornerstone of efficient operations, yet organisations face several hurdles when attempting to chart their processes effectively. Insights from a survey of 4,412 BPM professionals by Global BPM Trends reveal the most common challenges plaguing the process mapping journey.

  1. Absence of Well-Defined Rules and Standards (40%)

A staggering 40% of respondents identified the absence of clear rules and standards as the foremost hindrance to process mapping. This lack of guidelines can lead to inconsistencies and inaccuracies in process documentation, jeopardising the entire BPM initiative.

  1. Inadequate Allocation of Time (37%)

The second major challenge is inadequate time allocation for process mapping teams, chosen by 37% of respondents. Rushed efforts can result in incomplete or erroneous mapping, undermining the effectiveness of BPM.

  1. Skills Gap (35%)

Lack of skills emerged as the third most common issue, with 35% expressing concerns about the proficiency of their teams. Inadequate skills can lead to inefficient mapping, making it imperative to invest in training and upskilling.

  1. Others

Organisations also grapple with a dearth of dedicated process mapping teams, professional tools, and insufficient team members. Neglecting the need for a dedicated team can be a crucial mistake, as consistent efforts are essential for successful process mapping.

These insights underscore the critical role of establishing clear rules and standards, dedicating resources, and investing in skills development to address the challenges faced during BPM. Overcoming these hurdles is essential for laying a strong foundation for BPM initiatives.

How to Build Efficient Business Processes

Building an effective business process involves several key steps that can enhance the overall performance of the organisation. Below are the aspects that you need to keep in mind while building an effective business process, from conducting a process workshop to mapping the process accordingly.

  1. Conduct a Process Workshop

The first step in building an effective business process is to conduct a process workshop. The workshop should bring together key stakeholders from various departments within the organisation. The goal is to gain a comprehensive understanding of the current processes, identify pain points, and brainstorm potential improvements.

During the workshop, participants should document existing processes, gather data on process performance, and engage in open discussions to capture diverse perspectives and ensure that the process design aligns with the organisation’s strategic goals.

  1. Build a Process Library

After the process workshop, it’s essential to create a process library or repository where all documented processes are stored. A well-organised process library makes it easy for employees to access and reference the procedures and guidelines related to their roles. This central repository also facilitates process management and updates over time.

Modern organisations often use digital tools and software to build and maintain their process libraries. These tools enable easy version control, search capabilities, and access control to protect sensitive process information.

  1. Select the Processes that Need Immediate Actions

Not all processes are equal, and not all require immediate attention. Prioritisation is key when building effective business processes. After conducting the workshop and creating a process library, assess which processes have the most significant impact on the organisation’s performance and customer satisfaction. These processes should be given priority for improvement efforts.

Consider factors such as customer feedback, process complexity, and the potential for cost savings when determining which processes need immediate actions. Watch this to Learn how PRIME BPM helped MYOB in its Change Management Journey.

  1. Select Process Stakeholders

After selecting the process, it is necessary to identify the right stakeholders for the process improvement initiative. Stakeholders include individuals or teams responsible for executing and managing the process, as well as those who will be affected by process changes. Engage these stakeholders early in the process design phase to gather input, address concerns, and ensure alignment with organisational objectives.

  1. Define Process Attributes

To build effective business processes, it’s essential to define clear process attributes. This includes specifying the process owner, outlining the process steps, documenting key performance indicators (KPIs), and assigning roles and responsibilities using a RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed) matrix. The RACI matrix helps clarify who is responsible for each task and who needs to be informed or consulted at different stages of the process.

  1. Get Approval on the Process

Before implementing any process changes, it’s crucial to obtain approval from upper management within the organisation. This step ensures that everyone is aligned with the proposed improvements and that any potential risks or concerns are addressed in advance.

  1. Finally, Map the Process Accordingly

Once the process attributes are defined and approval is obtained, it’s time to map the process accordingly. Process mapping involves creating a visual representation of the workflow, including all the steps, decision points, inputs, outputs, documentation and responsible parties. This visual representation, often created using flowcharts or process modelling software, helps employees understand their roles within the process and identify areas for optimisation.

Build Business Processes with PRIME BPM

Choosing PRIME BPM software to build and optimise business processes is a strategic decision that offers numerous benefits. PRIME BPM is one of the leading business process mapping tools for process management due to its robust features and user-friendly interface. One key advantage is its ability to facilitate collaboration among cross-functional teams, allowing organisations to break down silos and work cohesively towards process improvement.

PRIME BPM’s intuitive drag-and-drop interface simplifies the process mapping process, making it accessible to both process experts and business professionals, without the need for prior mapping knowledge. Furthermore, its analytical and simulation features allow organisations to not only map their processes but also simulate changes to see the potential impact before implementation which minimises risks and maximises efficiency gains.

If you’re ready to take your business process mapping efforts to the next level, explore PRIME BPM through a 30-day free trial. Try it for yourself and discover how PRIME BPM can help your organisation unlock its full potential.