Process Mapping in Project Management: A Practical Approach

Project Management
Project Management

Processes are a critical part of running a business. Businesses use them for everyday operations and in their workflows. Whether you are creating new processes or evaluating ones you already use, a process map can help you streamline the process and optimize the workflow required.

What is a Process Map?

A process map is a document that outlines all the steps a business intends to take to complete a specific workflow. It shows all tasks, how they are related, what steps will occur, and the different decision points in that process.

The diagramming and documentation process must ensure the map is easy to understand for every shareholder involved. Businesses can use various process mapping tools for this, with one of the most common being a flowchart.

Once developed, the process map becomes a reference point in case the business or a team needs to revise the workflow or procedure later.

Now that you know what a process map is, how do you do process mapping in project management?

Define the Process’ Goals

Start by thinking about the goals you want to achieve with the process mapping. What do you want to achieve? Does it need to fit into or be part of a larger plan? What is the process’ scope (start and end points)?

Also, consider which teams will be involved in the project and where collaboration will be crucial for its success. When doing this, think about stakeholders and teams to contact to get their buy-in and to share knowledge. They should contribute to the mapping because they will be impacted by the new process.

Identify the Steps to Take During the Process

Once you know the process goals and scope, you should start collecting the required data. This data will help you identify the steps to take during the process mapping. You should define each step in easy-to-understand terms so anyone outside or not close to the process can easily understand them.

When identifying and outlining the steps, consider the following:

  • The order they will occur
  • Which decisions to make and where to place decision points
  • The inputs that will go into starting the process
  • The outputs or results to be realized once the process completes
  • Which teams, departments, roles, and external partners will be involved

Start Documenting the Process

At this stage, you put together the steps and information you have gathered so far so you can use them to create a process diagram. As mentioned, businesses can use different process mapping tools at this stage.

Apart from flowcharts, they can also use SIPOC, Value Stream Mapping, Business Process Modeling Notation, and Swim-Lane Process Map. If the person responsible for creating the map does not have enough time to go into detailed specifics, they can start with a simple map that depicts the process outline. They can then add more details when they have time or as the process becomes clearer.

Process maps can become complex quickly depending on their type, the amount of data they include, and the number of steps and decision points. The person creating them must make them simple enough for everyone to understand.

Obtain Feedback and Test it

A process map can be a living document management that is revised continuously depending on input from different stakeholders. Collect feedback from those who will use it and those who will be affected by its implementation.The aim of doing this should be to see how easy it is to use and to include additional information, steps, and decision points depending on the feedback obtained.

Once you have integrated all the feedback obtained, it is time to test the process map. Do a trial run to ensure the new procedure works as expected. At this stage, you may find that what you thought would work well does not, so you should be open to making changes.

Roll it Out

Once you have tested the process, integrated feedback, and worked out any issues, it is time to roll it out. Always keep an eye on the process to identify areas where the process map needs tweaking to make the necessary changes.

Process mapping is crucial for understanding how processes work, improving them, or creating new ones. Process mapping can be challenging due to gathering data, creating the map, testing, and implementing it. But it is worth it due to the improvements and benefits it provides if it works as intended when implemented.