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What is Process Mapping & its 7 Best Practices in 2024?

What is Process Mapping & its 7 Best Practices in 2024?What is Process Mapping & its 7 Best Practices in 2024?

Process mapping techniques help business leaders leverage to monitor, manage and improve their processes. However, the ways analysts and leaders map their processes can differ based on the aspects they want to capture or the process technology solutions they are planning to utilize. Specifically, process mining is discussed as strong option against process mapping software, which can create confusion for business leaders and analysts. Moreover, process mining has been gradually overtaking the positions of business process mapping tools, as the Google Trends visual above shows. 

In this article, we’ll explain process mapping, compare it to process mining, and provide a set of best practices and tips on how to create process maps that can help leaders to make comprehensive and data-driven decisions

What is process mapping?

Process mapping is the practice of creating a business process map, flowchart, workflow diagram and value stream map. Process mapping tools aim to illustrate how a process works in an ideal scenario from start till the end. 

Business process mapping methodology aims to present a better understanding of the entire process flow through straightforward visuals that every member of the organization can easily comprehend. 

Business process mapping use cases include process analysis, training, process improvement and management. Using maps, departments can coordinate with one another or across teams, HR can streamline recruitment, business analysts can identify inefficiencies and discuss ways to improve complex processes.

Process Mapping vs. Process mining

We have already explained process improvement framework which includes process improvement methodologies and process technology such as process intelligence tools, automation tools and BPM. We also explained these tools in detail, such as process mining and process modeling and compared them each other (e.g, process mining vs process modeling).

Process mapping is included under process intelligence tools as a technology based solution in the process improvement framework, along with process mining, task mining, DTO and process modeling. 
Other process technology tools include BPM and automation tools, such as RPA, BPA and Data extraction. 
On the other hand, process improvement methodologies include lean, six sigma, kaizen, total quality management and agile.
Figure 2: Process Improvement Framework

In short, process mining offers data-driven insights through AI integrations and other capabilities such as:

Process mining trends figure below shows the most common process mining use cases which extend process improvement (by 23) into hyper-automation, process automation (by 25%), digital transformation (by 26%), compliance (by 17%) and  IT operations (by 10%). 

Process improvement by 23%, compliance by 17%, process automation by 25%, digital transformation by 25% and IT operations by 10% are top 5 process mining use cases over the  last 4 years.
Figure 3: Process Mining Trends, Source: Gartner

Therefore, we recommend primarily applying process mining tools to discover and visualize real-life business processes and utilizing process mapping software as a complementary method to capture qualitative aspects of processes.  Process mining platforms have an expanding set of capabilities encompassing process intelligence and management.

7 Steps to map processes

1. Involve everyone into mapping project

Each process includes several departments and teams with different responsibilities and tasks. It is important to involve these parties into the mapping phase to understand day-to-day activities.

Quick tip: Have an end-goal to guide you through mapping and prevent you from getting lost. You should be decisive on what you want from your process. For instance, you may want it to be faster or produce higher quality service.

2. Make a list of all the relevant tasks and activities

Processes contain sub-processes, tasks and activities to be completed. At first, it is recommended to brainstorm with your team and communicate with parties involved in the process to make a list of all these tasks and activities.  While noting the tasks, include information on employees that are in charge of these tasks as well. This stage will be helpful in clarifying the process steps, the start and end of the process.  

Quick tip: While noting tasks and activities, distinguish human and system tasks. As the names suggest, human tasks are mostly manual tasks that are done with the help of a human while system tasks can be data transfers, sending emails, creating folders that can be done or has been done by a machine.

3. Set the accurate order

Once you sort out all the activities, tasks and people, start reviewing this information by putting in the accurate sequence. If you miss any step or you have some gaps in the details, you should go back to the previous stage and reach out to the responsible party. 

Quick tip: While revising, be attentive for repetitions. In such cases, you should go over your list of tasks. The details attached to maps should be exclusive and concise so that maps can be easier to generate. 

4. Choose a relevant mapping format

Based on your level of details and complexity of your process, choose a relevant process mapping format to draw your process flow. Each step should be represented with a symbol. There are around 30 symbols that are commonly used to show process steps. 

Quick Tip: Avoid complex process maps and use common symbols to make your flowcharts simple and easy to follow, which promotes communication across the organization. 

5. Share the map to receive feedback

Once you are done with drawing and final edits, share the map with everyone you interviewed to make sure that all agrees upon the final diagram. If you receive feedback regarding missing steps, redundancies or ambiguities, modify your map. 

6. Use your map to identify bottlenecks

After the modifications, the map is ready to serve as a useful tool that helps you identify happy paths and inefficient flows. You can investigate which steps, specific tasks and activities can be associated with such bottlenecks, and how these steps can be eliminated or improved. These insights are indicators for further improvement in the given process. You should start modifying and re-designing your processes. 

7. Revise your map constantly

After you implement any change in your process, always go back to your process map and rework on it so that you can have an updated process map. 

Quick tip: Even when there are no updates on the process, revisit your process maps to keep them updated or discover sections to improve for the maps. 

Bonus tip:

Leverage process mining to seamlessly map your as-is processes, quickly identify inefficiencies and variations and constantly monitor changes before, during or after implementing them. Do not lose valuable information and time!

Further reading

Explore how to monitor, manage and improve your processes by reading our in-depth articles:

If you think your business can benefit from BPM technologies and process mining, you can start reviewing our data-driven vendor lists for process mining and BPM software. And if you still have questions, contact us to find the right vendor for you

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Access Cem's 2 decades of B2B tech experience as a tech consultant, enterprise leader, startup entrepreneur & industry analyst. Leverage insights informing top Fortune 500 every month.
Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst
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Hazal Şimşek
Hazal is an industry analyst in AIMultiple. She is experienced in market research, quantitative research and data analytics. She received her master’s degree in Social Sciences from the University of Carlos III of Madrid and her bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Bilkent University.

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