How to Create a Process Map
A process map is a tool that graphically depicts the inputs, outputs, actions, and decision points of a process in a step-by-step manner. Since it breaks a process down into distinct steps, it is a great way to identify opportunities for improvement in the process.
Reason to Process Map
A process map illustrates how a process is carried out, what steps are necessary to move the process to its conclusion, and what decisions need to be made along the way. Visualizing the process helps an organization get a better understanding of how their business functions, as well as their strengths and weaknesses.
Steps Involved in Process Mapping
- Select the process to document
- Identify the activities involved
- Identify the start and end points of the process
- Break the process into distinct tasks and decision points
- Organize the steps in a sequential order
- Create a basic flowchart with symbols
HOW TO CREATE A PROCESS MAP
Select the process to document
The first step is to select a process that needs to be mapped out. It may be a process that needs improvement, or one that just needs to be documented or visualized.
Identify the main activities involved
The second step is to identify the main activities involved in the process. This can be done through brainstorming.
The goal at this step is to simply identify the key activities in the process, and not identify every task, action, input, output, and decision point. Also, sequencing the steps is not important at this point, however it may help identify all the main activities needed to complete the process.
NOTE: When listing the activities, use an action verb to start describing each one.
Identify the start and end points of the process
The third step is to identify where the process begins and where it ends. This will define the process boundaries. Keep in mind, some processes will have more than one possible end point, so it is important to determine all of them in order to map all possible outcomes of the process.
Break the process into distinct tasks and decision points
After determining the start and end points, it is time to list all the steps in between. List all the tasks, actions, inputs, outputs, documents, and decision points that are involved in the process. Once again, the sequence or order is not as important as making sure all the steps and associated parts of the process are identified.
Organize the steps in a sequential order
Now that all the tasks, actions, inputs, outputs, and decision points have been identified, it is time to put them in order. Each action or task should trigger the subsequent step in the process. At decision points, the process can go in different directions and there may be more than one end point.
Create a basic flowchart with symbols
The final step in processing mapping is to create a flowchart with symbols to visually document the process. Each element in a process map is represented by a specific flowchart symbol.? Be sure to use the appropriate symbols to map the steps in the process.
Basic Symbols for Process Mapping
- Ovals = the beginning or end of a process
- Rectangles = an operation or activity that needs to be completed
- Arrows = the work flow direction
- Diamonds = a point where a decision must be made
- Parallelogram = inputs or outputs