Business Process Mapping


Business Process Mapping (BPM) is about defining the processes that a business currently follows so that it can make improvements for the benefit of its customers and improve organisation effectiveness. Business Process Maps also enable the training of new staff.

BPM describes current process steps, their sequence, the required standards, inputs and outputs and who is responsible for which parts. It is usually laid out in a diagram or flow-chart and whilst this can be done manually most organisations today use software packages to do this job. We know that the following packages work particularly well…..

WYZ @ www.

ABC @ www.

Building a Business Process Map

All organisations will start to develop processes from their earliest days – usually driven by specific needs and by the application of common sense by the early contributors. And for low volumes of activity, these processes can work adequately. But as the organisation starts to grow, gaps and bottlenecks start to occur and that is usually when a more structured approach to BPR becomes essential.

Step 1 – Process Identification. This involves the leadership team in identifying which processes should be tackled first and why they need addressing. An organisation-wide BPM maybe too big of an exercise to start things off without the use of external expertise, so start with the priority processes.

When establishing where to start, you should also think about why a given process needs improvement – it may be that the process is not customer-centric and customers are getting frustrated with the way the organisation is doing business; maybe the process is inefficient and consuming too much human and/or IT resource; maybe it is just too slow.

So in establishing where to start it is important to clarify the results you want to achieve.

Step 2 – Process Information Gathering. This involves interviewing the current job holders to establish what current happens at the moment. This includes the process steps themselves, documentation used, IT systems used, timelines to move through process steps, dependencies/inputs/outputs, etc.

As an aide memoire you should be asking open-ended discovery questions….

“I keep six honest serving men
They taught me all I know,
Their names are who and what and why
And when and where and how”
– Rudyard Kipling

It is also good practice to talk to your key customers at this point in the process – explaining to them what you are doing and inviting their inputs buys goodwill and may just buy you some time to make the improvements you need.

Step 3 – Process Mapping. Whether using a software package or doing this stage manually, this is the point where the data gathered from Step 2 is converted into flow-charts or diagrams.

These diagrams must reflect what actually goes on in your organisation at present and will vary enormously in size and complexity. This task is best given to someone with a logical and structure approach to the work that they do – ‘creative butterflies’ do not normally make great process mappers!

There is an example of a process map from the web below….


Step 4 – Process Map Analysis. This is where the organisation creates a team to challenge all aspects of the process map – what-why? who-why? where-why? when-why? how-why? Team membership selection is key because you want the team to critically examine the status quo and it should not comprise too many members with vested interests in the ‘current state’. Step 3 may take some time to complete thoroughly.

Step 5 – Develop and Implement Process Changes. Coming out of Step 4 will be suggestions for change which once approved need to be carefully implemented. Sometimes those changes will be relatively modest and easily managed. On other occasions the changes will be profound and far reaching and will require skills in leading change – see our InfoGuide.

Where radical change is required, clients should research the subject of Business Process Re-Engineering and perhaps seek out expert consultancy support.

Step 6 – Assessment of Impact. This step is simply the measurement of how far you achieved the goals you set at Step 1 – if those goals were ‘internal’ then the measures you will use will be known to you, but if the goals were ‘external’ then you will need to survey or interview your customers to establish their perceptions.

Business Process Mapping and External Standards

The most common ranges of standards used in the UK are BS (British Standards) and ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation), covering most aspects of organisation life and there are a further range of standards for specific industry sectors e.g. FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) for the financial services sector.

According to ISO, the primary purposes of adopting these quality standards are as follows: –

  • Satisfying their customers’ quality requirements
  • Promoting their brand and organisation to their market
  • Ensuring their products and services are safe
  • Complying with regulations for their sector
  • Meeting environmental objectives

Whether adopting BS or ISO standards, the organisation is directed to initially define its own processes and standards (BPM) and then the award of certification follows if the organisation conforms to those processes and standards for its goods or services.

So it would be possible for an organisation to achieve certification by making a product of no commercial value (example most often quoted is ‘concrete life-jackets’) and provided they followed their own processes, they would be able to attach a BS or ISO certification to their product/service.

Copyright: © Clive Weston, The Hartwell Consultancy, 2020

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