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Beginner’s Guide to Workflow Mapping

Beginner's Guide to Workflow Mapping

Want to improve your business process’s efficiency? Want to know why you are missing deadlines? Why are some of your projects doomed to fail even before they start? 

Workflow mapping can be a crucial step in answering those questions (and more). In this workflow mapping guide, we will discuss all you need to know about implementing workflow mapping to your existing business process from start to finish. 

Without further ado, let us start by discussing the concept of workflow mapping. 

What Is a Workflow Map?

A workflow map (or business process map) is a visual representation of a business process alongside the individuals involved in carrying out each step.

The most common method of workflow mapping is to use a flowchart diagram, although we can use other methods like Kanban board, state diagram, and others. 

We can use a workflow mapping and management system like Aproove to start building a workflow map flowchart and make the most of your workflow map, for example, by tracking its performance via analytics and implementing automation.

Here is a basic example of a workflow map flowchart illustrating an article editing process.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Consensus_Flowchart.svg

As we can see, each step in a workflow map is represented by a shape, with different shapes in the flowchart illustrating different functions. 

While there are more than 25 flowchart shapes that you can use in a workflow mapping, in most cases, you’ll only need these five shapes:  

ShapeName Function
https://d3n817fwly711g.cloudfront.net/uploads/2018/02/Activity-300×205.pngProcessRepresents a process or a step of a process
https://d3n817fwly711g.cloudfront.net/uploads/2018/02/Arrow-300×140.pngArrowConnecting two shapes, the direction of the arrow indicates the relationship between two shapes
https://d3n817fwly711g.cloudfront.net/uploads/2018/02/Decision-300×154.pngDecisionIndicates that a decision has to be made
https://d3n817fwly711g.cloudfront.net/uploads/2018/02/Start-End-300×159.pngStart/EndRepresents the start/end point of a workflow
https://d3n817fwly711g.cloudfront.net/uploads/2018/02/Document.pngDocumentRepresents file or information 

Step-By-Step of Workflow Mapping

Now that you’ve understood the concept of workflow mapping and the different flowchart mapping shapes, we can start creating a workflow map by following these steps: 

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Step 1: Identify the process

If you have more than one business process running, then you should pick one of them. 

We’d recommend selecting a process that either: 

  • Has the most impact on your organization’s productivity (i.e., directly impacts customer satisfaction)
  • Has been proven to be inefficient or has shown other prevalent issues

Step 2: Gather as much data as you can

The next step is about gathering as much information as you can about the business process you’d like to map. The more details you can capture, the more accurate your workflow mapping will be. 

The best approach is to ask team members and stakeholders, directly and indirectly, involved with the specific workflow. They will provide valuable insights to make sure that you cover every aspect of the workflow when mapping it. 

Involve those who perform and manage the business process in the workflow mapping process and ask for their input. For example, ask their feedback about which areas in the workflow can be further optimized and/or improved. 

You should collect details such as: 

  • The start and end points of the process
  • All the tasks between the start and end points
  • The input variables of the process
  • The output/result of the process
  • Different people involved in the workflow and their roles

Step 3: Organize the steps carefully

Now that you’ve gathered all the information you’ll need, the next step is to arrange the tasks in sequential order from start to finish. 

For simple workflows, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue, but if it is a complex workflow with parallel processes that aren’t necessarily sequential, then you’ll need to pay more attention. 

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Make sure to organize the steps so that they are as representative as they can with the actual workflow. 

Step 4: Draw a draft

Next, access your workflow management software like Aproove, and start drafting a workflow map. 

Step 5: Evaluate and optimize

After you’ve produced your draft workflow map, then you should now have a basic visualization of the whole workflow. In this step, you should identify inefficiencies, redundancies, and bottlenecks based on the draft workflow map. Again, you can involve the stakeholders and team members who run or manage the workflow in this step. 

Decide whether there are redundant steps that could be eliminated and where you can make improvements. 

Step 6: Implement optimization and monitor

Implement the changes based on what you’ve discovered from the previous step, and monitor the performance of the new workflow. 


Compare the new workflow to the old one, and check whether there’s indeed any improvement or whether you should go back to the previous step and make further adjustments. 

Conclusion

Workflow mapping can be the most cost-effective way to improve your business process’s efficiency and improve your team’s transparency and accountability. 

Workflow mapping can: 

  • Be your useful ‘map’ for testing business processes and experimenting with what-if scenarios
  • Improving your team’s understanding of the workflow, allowing them to communicate about it more effectively
  • Improve your team’s overall performance and improve employee’s morale
  • Be an effective onboarding and training tool for new employees
  • Be an objective tool for measuring the efficiency of your workflow, allowing you to identify bottlenecks and redundancies with ease
  • Save more money and time in the long run

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