An Overview of Business Process Mapping

At the heart of every business operation are the different processes that keep it going. The greater your understanding of these processes, their impact, and how they function, the better you can manage your business.

Business process mapping is a valuable tool that can be facilitated to fully understand your business operations. In this article, we’ll learn more about business process mapping, its various types and benefits, and how to create one.

Business Process Mapping: What Is It?

At its core, business process mapping is simply mapping out the necessary steps with a specific business process. It uses a visual display to show how these procedures are done from start to finish, providing a sequence of steps that need to take place.

In general, business process mapping is a key part of overall workflow management. It can be used for project plans, product development, strategies, locations, team roles, and others at varying levels of detail.

5 Types Of Business Process Maps

Depending on what needs to be drawn, there are different types of business process maps you can use.

1. Flowchart

The most basic form of a process map is a flowchart. This graphical representation of a process flow provides details on the sequence of operations. Flowcharts are the easiest means of communication, containing information about the time order of actions.

2. High-Level Process Maps

A high-level process map is a simplified version of how a complex process works in just a few steps. It’s used to provide a quick overview of how it works without getting too much into details. Thus, it is valuable to communicate with people who don’t need in-depth knowledge of the procedures. Check this high level process map example to have a better idea.

3. Swim Lanes

Swimlanes are closely similar to flowcharts, except that they’re divided into columns, like in a competition swimming pool, thus the name. Each column is assigned to a role or a job function.

Like flowcharts, workflow in Swimlanes is broken down into activities, decisions, and task points. However, it also assigns those tasks to specific job roles, helping employees and managers to understand who’s responsible for each task in the workflow.

4. Value Stream Mapping

Value stream mapping provides far more detail than other types of business process mapping. With this type, each diagram is focused more on the value chain process of transforming raw materials into an end service or product.

It displays more detail about every step, such as the resources and time needed for each task. Its purpose is to assess a workflow’s time, cost, efficiency, and resources, helping managers better calculate the overall costs and timeframe.

5. Business Process Model And Notation

A Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) is a complex process mapping methodology that allows you to provide further detail to a process. As a more formal type of business process mapping, the diagrams and symbols used in a BPMN have more specific and standardized language for representing component tasks.

business process mapping

Benefits Of Business Process Mapping

Business processes are complex, multi-layered structures, making mapping a useful tool for a better understanding of these processes.

With the visual elements, everyone in the organization can understand how to complete a particular business task. Business process maps can serve as a reference document, providing easy-to-understand details about specific activities for existing teams and can be valuable for new employee onboarding.

It also helps external stakeholders to easily understand how a business operation works. Thus, having a map also supports compliance with the established regulations and processes by providing proper disclosure and transparency.

In addition, process maps can improve problem-solving. By having a visual model of it, you can easily discover conflicts and resolve them while providing insights into potential areas of improvement.

4 Basic Steps To Business Process Mapping

Process mapping requires a commitment of energy and time. That said, there are only four major steps to establishing it.

1. Identify The Process

You need to know what process is being mapped and what you’re hoping to gain from creating it. This helps avoid overlapping business map processes. Choose one that can be easily tracked with numbers of measuring improvements, and make sure that the scope fits your goals.

2. Gather The Necessary Information

Examine the steps involved, and gather the necessary information, including who, when, what, how, and where it’s all occurring. Then focus more on gathering the smallest level of detail necessary. Make sure to break down the process into smaller details.

That said, you also want to involve the right people and have them walk through the business map to gain additional insights and input.

3. Draw The Map

Once you have gathered all the necessary details, it’s time to sequence each activity or as it occurs, you can use business process mapping software to make this step easier. Make sure that the map is accurate with applicable users and participants and get their approval.

4. Implement And Improve

Once you have the approval from the necessary parties, you can now finalize, document, and share the map. After it’s implemented, you also need to improve or update it as your business grows.


A business process map can help you visualize and manage the processes within your organization. This provides a better understanding of how your business functions, as well as identifying key strengths and weaknesses. In turn, it helps you make the necessary changes and updates to make your business more efficient.

Dragan Sutevski

Posted by Dragan Sutevski

Dragan Sutevski is a founder and CEO of Sutevski Consulting, creating business excellence through innovative thinking. Get more from Dragan on Twitter. Contact Dragan