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What is a process map?
Nov 15, 2022 3:00:00 PM9 min read

What is a process map?

A process map, which is a process-based management tool, can be thought of as a synonym for a flowchart. It is a graphic scheme or diagram that shows how the processes of a company work and interrelate. To be considered as such, the areas that participate in the processes must be made visible in this diagram, as well as those involved in them, what is the central objective, the secondary objectives, and who is responsible.


  1. Key aspects of a process map.
  2. What types of processes make up a company?
  3. Advantages of having a process map.
  4. Why is it important to design a process map?
  5. How to make a process map step by step?
  6. Common mistakes when mapping a process.
  7. Conclusion.




Key aspects of a process map.

In this sense, we can point out that sometimes there are people in charge, and some other times there are not because responsibility is transferred as the process progresses, taking into account that there are processes that go through several areas of a company. When this happens, we can speak of macro processes because here the processes cross several functional areas of an organization (sales, administration, marketing, etc.).

The key points to take into account in the design of a process map are the following:

  1. Decision points: they determine who is responsible for making certain decisions throughout the processes. They define the advance or setbacks of a process.
  2. Documenting: it represents the information contained in several types of documents, files, and invoices to be used as complementary knowledge of the process map.

The main advantage of having a process map is that it lays the foundation for training new people and also provides the code to implement software, which is nothing more than the basic structure for understanding the functionalities of the tool.


What types of processes make up a company?

The main goal of each process type is process optimization. On this basis, we can classify processes into three categories:

Strategic processes.

They are aimed at defining a strategy with which the objectives defined by the organization can be met, taking into account the vision, mission, and values. It covers the management area of each company and the management of each department.

Operational processes.

These processes, also known as key processes, are aimed at the elaboration of products and delivery of services. This part of the business process includes production, product development, distribution, and delivery, among others. It is intrinsically linked to customer satisfaction.

Support processes.

They are those processes designed to provide help and support to meet the objectives of the company. Examples of support processes can be information systems, quality control, customer service, etc. Also, these processes involve a large number of functions that connect the processes of other areas of a company, so it also acquires a certain relevance within the process organization.


Advantages of having a process map.

1. It provides greater visibility of the processes from beginning to end.

A company's process map gives employees visibility into where what they do fits into the bigger picture and how it impacts not only other areas of the business but ultimately the customer as well. Process mapping helps you understand how you work as a cross-functional team, which is a great first step in breaking down siled work.

2. It shows owners of processes and activities.

Everyone in the company carries out a process, but who is ultimately accountable for specific activities? This can be displayed on the process map or stored within it.

3. It supports operational excellence.

It allows employees to find the answers instead of asking their colleagues or the online manager. Process maps clearly state what they should be doing and can be linked to more detailed information about how they should be doing it in the way of:

  • Procedures
  • Guidance note/Work instructions
  • Forms
  • Videos
  • Anything that helps employees do their job

4. It supports induction and training.

Process maps are also a great resource for induction and training. They represent a relevant way to communicate best practices through an approved process map and support new members. Sharing maps through a process library allows newcomers to the company to search for processes based on their job functions.

5. It shows compliance.

Process maps can be used to show compliance with regulatory standards such as ISO, FCA, and SOX, to name a few, and it is also used as a valuable resource for internal/external audits.

They can even get specific and use information/data stored in each process map to show where the organization complies with specific clauses or to evidence the proper controls. This can also be exported as needed.

6. It identifies and mitigates risk.

Process maps can be used to identify and show where risk has been identified within the business and what controls there are or need to be implemented to mitigate risk. Again, this can be exported as needed. Sharing visibility and educating employees on risk areas and controls is priceless since informed workers can be proactive in mitigating risks.

7. It enables process analysis.

A process map can be much more than a diagram of the process steps, if the right process mapping tool is used, metadata can be captured at each process step, which can then be used for process analysis.

8. It offers a broader picture of today's business.

Mapped processes give everyone in your organization a snapshot of how you do business today (your processes), and offer a mechanism to see how you might be able to do business more efficiently tomorrow.

9. Change of evidence.

Once the process has been mapped, it can be used as a baseline to look for improved ways of doing things. If metadata such as cost, total effort, and lead time has been captured for each activity, it can be effectively calculated whether the proposed changes add value to the business by reducing costs, reducing duplication, and improving overall service for customers.

10. Continuous improvement.

Once your processes have been approved and implemented, they become new processes, supporting employees in all the ways mentioned above. It is from this new baseline that ways to improve can be sought again, making continuous improvement a reality.

In addition, companies can show the trend of continuous improvement by creating an archive or history of process changes. This is useful for showing compliance with quality accreditations such as ISO 9001.


Why is it important to design a process map?

The importance of process mapping lies in organizations and companies improving efficiency. Process maps provide information about a process, help teams brainstorm ways to improve the process, increase communication, and provide documentation of the process.

On the other hand, it will identify bottlenecks, repetitions, and delays. They help define the boundaries, ownership, responsibilities, and effectiveness measures or metrics of the process. One of the purposes of the process map is to gain a better understanding of a process.


How to make a process map step by step?

Next, we share a guide on the main steps to making a process map correctly.

1. Identify a process to design.

The first step is to ask yourself if any inefficient processes should be improved. Either a new process that you would like to communicate to your work team or a complex one that needs an explanation for the best performance of employees. Identify what you want to design and give it a name.

2. List all related activities.

You should document all the tasks necessary to carry out the process. At this stage, the order is not the most important thing. Make a list of all related activities and who will be responsible for each one.

It's a good idea to help teammates and other stakeholders involved in the process so that you can accurately account for all the necessary steps and determine the level of detail that is needed. Be sure where the process begins and ends so you know what tasks need to be included to produce the desired result.

3. Establish the sequence of the steps.

Now that you have a list of all the activities, the next step is to order these activities in the correct sequence, until the entire process is represented from beginning to end. This is a good time to check if anything was missed in the previous step.

4. Create a flowchart using symbols from the process maps.

Select the appropriate process map format and create the process with the corresponding symbology. There are approximately 30 standard symbols that you can use to represent several elements of the process.

5. Add the latest details and share them with your team.

Once you have finished creating your process map, review it with the other participants involved to make sure everyone understands it and agrees with the way the process was designed. Make sure that no steps have been skipped and that there are no redundancies or ambiguities.

6. Analyze the areas to improve.

After you have confirmed that the process map clearly describes the workflow of the process, the completed map will serve as a tool to analyze and discover ways to improve the process.

With the feedback given by your team, identify where the bottlenecks and inefficiencies in the process lie. What steps could be eliminated? What tasks could be done more efficiently? Once you have identified these areas for improvement, take the necessary actions to improve them and amend the map to reflect these changes.


Common mistakes when mapping a process.

As in any implementation intended to generate an improvement, it may be subject to mistakes. We list those that tend to happen more often.

1. Not involving more people apart from those in charge.

This mistake stems from the belief that a process is the responsibility of a single person or a small group of people.

2. Not clearly defining the scope of processes.

This may be a direct consequence of not involving the customer in the company's affairs and also, due to a lack of knowledge of the process approach by the company itself.

3. Making the process map only to fulfill an obligation and not to improve.

By not including internal and external customers, those responsible for designing the process maps keep critical information only to prevent possible mistakes from being revealed. Deep down, they are not sure if process improvement will be effective, and just in case, they hide information that could expose more serious flaws.

4. Being aware of the improvement opportunities identified but making a plan without prioritizing the improvement actions.

If opportunities for improvement are clear, the action plan should be executed based on them and given top priority. The improvements that will benefit customers first and those that will benefit the company must come after and not be left in the background for fear of investing.



The process map is an essential business tool to detect improvement opportunities and identify possible threats or solvable errors. It guarantees a wide margin of confidence in the knowledge of interdepartmental processes, their functions, relevant activities, and specific roles.

Not only does it help improve processes by optimizing results at the area level, but it also allows the entire company to boost productivity and promotes performance for employees because constant reviews of processes allow a company to get to know from the inside and get to know people who work in it and what they are potentially outstanding at.


Drew's editorial team

A company focused on developing solutions of genuine value to other companies. We are passionate about transforming the way people work, optimizing processes and promoting business growth.

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