Business Process Mapping

Business Process Mapping

Business Process Mapping refers to activities involved in defining exactly what a business entity does, who is responsible, to what standard a process should be completed and how the success of a business process can be determined. Once this is done, there can be no uncertainty as to the requirements of every internal business process. A business process illustration is produced. The first step in gaining control over an organization is to know and understand the basic processes (Deming, 1982; Juran, 1988; Taylor, 1911).

ISO 9001 requires a business entity to follow a process approach when managing its business, and to this end creating business process maps will assist. The entity can then work towards ensuring its processes are effective (the right process is followed the first time), and efficient (continually improved to ensure processes use the least amount of resources).

Early history

The first structured method for documenting process flow, the flow process chart, was introduced by Frank Gilbreth to members of ASME in 1921 as the presentation “Process Charts—First Steps in Finding the One Best Way”. Gilbreth's tools quickly found their way into industrial engineering curricula. In the early 1930s, an industrial engineer, Allan H. Mogensen began training business people in the use of some of the tools of industrial engineering at his Work Simplification Conferences in Lake Placid, New York. A 1944 graduate of Mogensen's class, Art Spinanger, took the tools back to Procter and Gamble where he developed their Deliberate Methods Change Program. Another 1944 graduate, Ben S. Graham, Director of Formcraft Engineering at Standard Register Corporation, adapted the flow process chart to information processing with his development of the multi-flow process chart to displays multiple documents and their relationships. In 1947, ASME adopted a symbol set derived from Gilbreth's original work as the ASME Standard for Process Charts.

Recent Developments

Process mapping has in recent years developed due to software tools that can attach metadata to activities, drivers and triggers to provide a more complete understanding of processes. For example, data elements, KPIs, Times, Volumes, documents, files, databases, compliance applying to an activity can be attached to improve understanding and achieve several business goals simultaneously. Valuable analysis might include identification of duplicated use of data elements, proof or lack of proof of compliance.

The developments mean that process mapping is no longer two-dimensional but multi-dimensional; capable of achieving several important business goals:

*Business process re-engineering
*Regulatory compliance
*Activity analysis
*Service level agreement (SLA) role clarity (RACI)

Making process maps available using a web-browser only means that communication to, and access by stakeholders, is achievable - thus improving compliance, training and end-to end process understanding.

Legislation such as "The Sarbanes-Oxley Act" (also known as SOX) has increased the requirements for improved process understanding and visibility of compliance issues.

See also

*Business process modeling
*N2 Chart
*Organizational studies
*Systems engineering
*Value Stream Mapping


Deming, W.E. (1982), Out of the Crisis, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

Juran, J.M. (1988), Juran on Planning for Quality, Free Press, New York, NY

Taylor, F.W. (1911), The Principles of Scientific Management, Harper and Bros., New York, NY

Gilbreth, Frank and Lillian (1924), The Quest of the One Best Way, Purdue University Frank and Lillian Gilbreth Papers, 1924

For an example see

Sousa, G.W.L., Van Aken, E.M., Groesbeck, R.L. (2002), "Applying an enterprise engineering approach to engineering work: a focus on business process modelling", Engineering Management Journal, Vol. 14 No.3, pp.15-24.

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