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4 things to do before writing a process map

Having clearly documented processes helps build stronger communication and understanding in your organisation.

Process maps are a great way to document the processes – but before you start there’s a few things to prepare.

1 – Define the objective

Defining the objective helps you understand how detailed the process map need to be.

Consider what you are creating the process map for – do you need it for:

  • documentation
  • analysing a process
  • maintaining consistency of processes

This should help you understand how detailed the process map needs to be and therefore which parts need to be visualised.

2 – Define the scope

Defining the scope is a key step when mapping a business process.

If scope is not defined it could end with endless growth of the boundaries – “scope creep”.

Generally speaking – the scope would would be found by asking:

  • what starts the process (e.g. a customer orders a product)
  • what ends the process (e.g. the product is delivered to the customer).

This will help you understand where your process starts and stops – and whether you have one or many processes working together.

3 – Brainstorm the activities involved

Brainstorming a process is best done as a team.

Assemble a team of people that have hands on experience for the whole process.

Ask the team:

  • what are the steps required to complete the process?
  • who does what and when?

At this point try to focus on the tasks and not the sequence – this helps keep the meeting focused.

4 – Determine and sequence the events

Once the brainstorming process is complete you need to sequence the steps.

When sequencing events, consider:

  • which steps need to happen to enable other steps?
  • which steps can happen independently (do not require other steps to happen)?
  • which steps can happen simultaneously (can happen at the same time as other steps)?

This is best done as a team activity so you can ask questions along the way.

Now you’re ready to process map!

You should now understand the who, what, when and why of the process – enough to start creating the process map.

If you need help check out six tips for creating a process map that works.