Quick Guide to Process Mapping

Process Improvement

Mapping processes provides visibility into how processes work rather than how management thinks they work.  By analyzing the hand-offs and decisions involved in the end-to-end process, it is easier to identify what changes can provide real improvements without adversely affecting other areas or the customer.  Many companies report significant improvements in efficiency simply as the result of process review and implementation of changes identified even without technology changes.

Requirements Validation

When you are writing business requirements for your systems initiative, how do you know you have captured all of the requirements?  By comparing or attempting to map the requirements back to your process maps you can validate whether all decisions and variations in the process have been documented and accounted for.  The visual process maps quickly identify decision points and any potential process outcomes that have not been accounted for.

Establishing and Communicating Change 

Different stakeholders have different perspectives that may not be addressed with text alone.  Business users think of processes based on the activities they need to perform to do their specific job.  Individuals in IT are more focused on what systems are involved, what information needs to be collected and shared, what functions need to be supported.  Different groups may use the same words but with different meanings and different understandings.  Combining the requirements gathering process with the visual representation using process maps helps identify questions and brings greater clarity to what is truly required.  Improving the communication of change helps eliminate those unexpected and unpleasant suprises. 

 

Too often process maps are viewed as just another piece of process documentation without understanding the full benefits available from the exercise.  The following quick reference guide will help you gain the most benefit from process mapping.

Project Scoping - Size and Complexity

Creating or reviewing a high level end -to-end process model at the beginning of a project helps establish the initial boundaries of any system or process change to clarify project scope.  It identifies which areas will be involved, which systems and the overall impact on the organization.  This model may also be referred to as the Value Chain model.

Identifying Stakeholders and Resources

The high level (Value Chain) model review is useful in identifying what areas will be affected along with any customer or external supplier implications.  Performing this exercise early in the project helps the Project Manager ensure all required stakeholders are included and helps in building a resource plan.

Identifying Requirements

Mapping processes at an activity level before requirements are written helps identify additional stakeholders, additional functionality, and steps that need to be addressed.  It is a useful tool to drive the requirements gathering sessions so requirements are gathered in a logical manner with the proper stakeholders present at the right time.