Process mapping – visual and powerful

Process mapping gives a picture that is worth a thousand words when it comes to improving the functioning of an organisation. ISO 9001 promotes the use of a process-oriented approach when developing, implementing, and improving the effectiveness of a management system. However, ISO 9001 does not require the flow to be mapped. Yet it is worthwhile to do so.

Man untangling tangled lines for process mapping

What is a process?

A process is a series of interrelated or interacting activities that use inputs to achieve intended results.

ISO-standards require an understanding of processes, their inputs and outputs, and their interactions. Finally, it is the lack of an overview of business processes and their interaction that often causes things to go wrong in an organisation

And in an office environment?

In production, raw materials are visibly transformed into products. This contrasts with an office environment where business processes are usually invisible during their execution. Let alone that we look at these processes in their entirety to analyse and improve them. This is where process flows can help.

What is the benefit of mapping a process?

Process mapping is a simple but powerful tool for looking at a process. It helps to understand it and to discover where inefficiencies and waste occur. Think of bottlenecks, repetitions, and delays.

Mapping out all the steps in a process and the people who carry out each step helps teams. They can brainstorm ideas for process improvement and better communication.

When a more consistent way of working in an organisation is the goal, process mapping is an ideal tool. Moreover, a documented process can be shared as best practice and encourages staff to think along the same lines.

Most importantly a process map is a visual aid. It allows the important details of a process to be communicated instead of writing extensive instructions. The process map says more than a thousand words.

What are the steps in process mapping?

Process mapping starts with creating a high-level diagram that defines the scope of the process.

A SIPOC diagram is often used for this. SIPOC is an acronym for Supplier – Inputs – Process – Outputs – Customer. The macro-level diagram shows the end-to-end steps and lays the foundation for the mapping of a detailed process.
SIPOC is important for two things. First, it shows in a simple way what the most important steps in the process are. Secondly, it identifies the key players. As such, the SIPOC provides a focus for discussion about what the process is about.

Detailing a high-level process step with a detailed process map

Usually, it is not necessary to look at the whole process in detail. Detailing takes place for those process steps where problems arise. The exception is when the intention is to radically streamline the process.

There are different types of detailed process maps. The information presented varies somewhat and the form used depends on the purpose of the mapping activities. For example, there is

  • A simple flowchart that visualises the steps of a process, including inputs and outputs. A simple flowchart is often used to show all the details of a process step and the decision moments.
  • A swimlane flowchart divides the steps into the paths of who performs the activities. In this way, it is explicit what the role of each participant is. This makes the swimlane map extremely suitable for drawing up work instructions and training. This view is also useful for finding process errors, such as redundancies, delays, rework, and excessive handoffs.
  • A value stream map visualises the flow of materials and information required to get the product or service to the customer. A value stream map documents data about process steps and their inputs and outputs. This helps to provide insight into how the process flows and where waste can be eliminated.
Finalise the process flowchart

Correct mapping of processes provides detailed knowledge of the inputs, process steps and outputs. Review the process map with stakeholders (team members, supervisors, suppliers, customers, etc.) for consensus. Process maps provide valuable insights to:

  • Understand how the processes drive the business
  • Find processes that cause risks and/or problems
  • Find processes that qualify for sharing best practices or that need to be redesigned
  • Discover which activities add value to your customers and contribute to greater efficiency and customer satisfaction
  • Streamline and simplify processes by eliminating activities that do not add value and are not required by legislation or regulations.


In summary, business processes are at the heart of how an organisation works and visualising them helps to better understand its strengths and weaknesses. This helps increase efficiency by visualising roles, solving problems, managing risks, and finding best practices. B ingenious is ready to support you in this activity.