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Process mapping for Results

Process mapping is gaining in popularity as a way of identifying opportunities for improvement but is it a valid method for describing how the business achieves its objectives? Organizations are often described by the functions they carry out so when it comes to identifying their processes it is automatically assumed that there will be some alignment with the organization charts or the organization's procedures.


If your management team has difficulty answering the questions below, it might be that your process maps are not effective communicators of process attributes.


Process mapping is often thought of a graphical method of describing the way product or information passes through an organization as work is done upon it. True, one obtains a kind of map from this approach, but a map is not the territory and its the territory that needs to be described if one is to manage the organization's processes effectively. Process mapping is but one aspect of effective process management.


If you were to examine the process maps you have created for your organization would you find?

  • The processes to carry labels that matched the names of departments, clauses of ISO 9001 or responsibilities of departments, sections or individuals?

  • Dozens of processes, perhaps a 100 or more in a large organization?

  • Each process having an entry point and an exit point that is linked to other processes?

  • Process measurements based on the numbers of things processed?

  • Diagrams with 'swim lanes' identifying who is responsible for which process and the linkages between them?

What the activity more than likely produces is a description of the transactions executed in the organization. Now there is merit in mapping the transactions because in doing so you are likely to find inefficiencies but is this the only reason for mapping processes?


If you were to ask your management team what the process maps achieved, would they:

  • Be able to take a specific business objective or stakeholder requirement and chart a path through the map to find out what activities and resources will be employed to achieve it?

  • Be able to take a specific business result and chart a path through the map to find out how it was achieved and measured?

  • Show where the resources were being used?

  • Be able to find out what provisions have been put in place to manage specific risks?

  • Be able to see how their contribution to the business linked with what everyone else did?

One solution is to model the organization aas a system of interconnected processes as illustrated in the diagram. As you will see, the processes, represented by the light blue shapes are high level processes, in fact there are only four processes within the whole organization. System model 

The Mission management process determines the direction of the business, develops the organizationís capability to accomplish its goals, continually reviews performance and initiates changes to keep the business focussed on its mission.
The Resource management process specifies, acquires and maintains the resources required by the business to fulfil the mission and disposes of any resources that are no longer required
The Demand creation process develops products and services and penetrates new and existing markets with a promotional strategy that attracts potential customers to the organization.
The Demand fulfilment process converts customer requirements into products and services that deliver customer satisfaction.

Learn more form our e-book A Guide to Business Process Management


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Last amended 24/08/2013
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