Business Process Mapping is a valuable tool for the Agile Professional. At a high-level business process maps provide a view of the steps involved in a given business process which gives the viewer an understanding of the flow of work and the key players involved. BPM can also be used to identify bottlenecks, pain points, anti-patterns, redundancies and more.
Business process maps are invaluable for quality initiatives and for training new employees. So, what are the different kinds of BPMs?
Business process Maps typically fall into one of these 4 categories:
- Context Diagram – a high-level map of how the organization interacts with external stakeholders
- Functional Flow Diagram – a high-level flow of work for a single process
- Cross-Functional Flow Diagram – mapping of a single process with swim lanes indicating actions for each participant
- Flowchart Diagram – Depicting each action or decision point within a given process and all alternate paths
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Tips for creating the best Business Process Maps
Start with a pencil – you are going to make mistakes, for example you’ll find halfway through that there is an additional step in between those you had already mapped out, so be ready to edit a lot at first. Plus once the map begins to take shape you may want to change the… well, shape. In other words if the map is beginning to grow vertically far more than horizontally you may want to rotate your orientation before translating it to a digital screen as our computer monitors are set up to display wider rather than taller.
Gather all the people – do not map in a vacuum. You should invite your team members and all the stakeholders to help make sure you are capturing every step as you go. Don’t wait until you feel finished to ask for input. You want to edit on paper as much as possible before taking it to a program like Visio or even PowerPoint.
Begin looking for problems at the beginning – when you are learning about each step in a process you should ask questions like “Why?” and “Can we eliminate this step?” because you have fresh eyes and aren’t simply accepting that current practices are perfect.
Remember to update your maps – processes change over time and if a new step is implemented, or better yet a step is deprecated, you will want to update your maps accordingly so that they remain a valuable resource for your team and stakeholders.