I've often been charged with business process review and creation, so over time I've developed checklist that highlights the main areas that I want to assess when working on a process analysis project.
Process Mapping Guidelines
Drafted: Thursday, June 02, 2005
Completed by: Janet L. McGreevy
One of the best techniques for facilitating better understanding of a particular process is
diagramming the selected process, by creating a process map. If you’re less visual and more
outline-oriented, a written checklist approach can also be useful.
Processes are customarily documented in terms of beginning and end points, interfaces and
organization units involved, and you’ll frequently find that most business processes cross
organizational and/or departmental boundaries.
A key advantage of creating meaningful process maps is the fact that members of the
organization have the chance to talk through and walk through the actual process used. An
additional benefit of process mapping is that the resulting map will usually provide a good
information structure or outline for training efforts, quality improvement projects, or process
documentation. Process or information mapping is commonly used to define, design, and refine
new processes or to create more effective procedures, policies, and documentation that can make
both paper-based and online information more:
• Meaningful; and,
Visualizing and understanding the impact of core processes and their effect on both internal and
external customers helps organizations to establish more reliable “voice of the customer”
systems, by facilitating better definition of critical customer requirements. Process mapping is
also useful for defining key business metrics and measuring performance on a continuous basis
in order to identify opportunities for organizational as well as individual performance
improvement. Advantages of process mapping include:
• Decreased errors—process stakeholders more clearly understand what is expected;
• Increased productivity—confusion about who does what when is diminished, and duplication
of effort is prevented;
• Improved customer service—audience information needs and requirements can be defined up
front and built into the process, creating a system that more closely meets customer or user
• Identified business needs—an observable view concerning the true scope of the selected
process(s) begins to emerge, as well as clear statements of actual requirements, all leading to
improved project planning and control.
It’s important to keep in mind that information technology (IT) capabilities should support
business processes, not dictate them. People are really the most important element of any
business process. Since successful execution of business processes largely depends upon those
who actually do the work, their participation, and perhaps more importantly, their acceptance and
buy-in of the processes and related assessment activities, is essential for successful process
implementation and management.
II. Related Terminology
Process – A series of actions, steps, or functions that achieve an end result; a system of
functional operations that produce a defined end product. A set of understandably related tasks
conducted to achieve a defined business outcome.
Process Map – A visual representation of a selected work process, demonstrating how inputs,
tasks, and outputs are linked to produce a desired result.
III. Process Mapping Checklist
1. Identify the distinct process to be mapped.
a. What is the purpose of this process?
b. Why is this process needed?
c. What should this process achieve?
d. What internal and external customers are served by this process?
2. Map out the way the work or process is currently conducted or completed.
a. What level of detail is necessary to clearly communicate the process without
getting bogged down with excess minutia?
b. Determine and list the process boundaries that apply to this particular process
i. Where do other processes begin and end in relation to this one?
ii. Identify the trigger(s) that initiate the process. What sets this process in
c. Define the primary inputs for this process
i. List the resources needed for this process
1. Includes: tools, systems, associates (people; skills/knowledge;
information/data; equipment; methods or procedures)
d. Identify any controls that impact this process
i. Includes: customer requirements; legal requirements
e. Define the primary outputs for this process
i. Identify the chief deliverables that should result from the process
1. Includes: information or reports; services; products; specific
2. How is it known when this process has been successful? What
metrics are used to define success?
f. Identify the key action steps required to complete the process
i. Are all major activities identified and labeled correctly?
ii. Does the listed sequence of events seem complete? Does it make sense?
iii. Identify the primary milestones and important dates or deadlines in the
iv. Start with the end in mind; identify the last major step and related
output(s) in the process
v. Identify who has responsibility for what actions and related deadlines
3. Identify any current problem areas or challenges.
a. What is redundant?
b. What should be done that is not currently being completed? Is this process being
handled the way it should be?
4. Look to the future.
a. Given what is known or anticipated, how will future business goals and/or other
changes impact the current process?
b. At what points in the process will change most likely occur?
c. What will those changes look like, and when will they take place?