Choose a process to be mapped

Ensure you have a whiteboard

A whiteboard is where your process map will be drawn, rubbed out, edited, scrapped and perfected. It's essential you have one big enough to draw on in a room that can hold a team of people.

A PIP process map from the British Government.


It's best to write process components on stick notes because they can easily be moved around the board and then pen lines can be drawn (and rubbed out) between them.

If you'd prefer a digital version of the above for remote teams, you can try something like Realtime Board — a collaboration tool for teams that also includes virtual post-its.

Realtime Board's agile board example.

Ensure you have process mapping software

The best free multi-platform dedicated process mapping tool is yED. Perhaps your organization has installed something like Microsoft Visio, but if not, yED is well worth checking out, as Ian James explains.

the yED explainer video

Arrange a meeting with the team who execute the process

To map a process, you need to understand it.

Arrange a meeting with those who execute the process to be mapped, and make sure they're free either to be in the room with the whiteboard, or have accounts on a whiteboard tool's site.

Use Google Calendar to send the invite or arrange it automatically with a tool like — an AI for scheduling your meetings.

Interview the team to get a rough sketch of the process

To understand the process, you first need to understand a few things...

  • 1
    What is achieved?
  • 2
    How is it achieved?
  • 3
    When is it achieved?
  • 4
    Where is it achieved?
  • 5
    Who achieves it?

Ask these questions on the whole, and for each sequential step.

Don't worry about anything other than getting a rough draft of the map down. It's not time to refine or optimize, just sketch.

Using simple flow chart notation, sketch the process "as is" on the whiteboard.

At this point, you only really need these symbols.

It'll probably end up looking a little bit like this:

Refine the process together

Once you have a sketch, it's time to optimize the process map. What can be done differently?

Either use this separate optimization process, or follow the steps in this task.

Finalize the whiteboard draft

Make sure you have a version of the map everyone is happy with, and you have cut non-essential steps from the original, if there were any.

Create a digital version of the process map

Now you've done the collaborative task of whiteboarding the process, it's time to create a digital version.

yEd is a free and powerful alternative to some of the popular and costly solutions. Depending on your business' regulations or your preferences you may want to create the final map in compliance with BPMN, or may not.

Attach a link or a screenshot of the digital process map (or both!) to the form fields below. In the next task (which is an approval task), the manager of the executing team will give it a final review, and either approve, or reject, or reject the digital process map with comments.

The executing team's manager has been applied to the approval task via role assignments, though it's also possible to assign the appropriate manager manually.

Approval: Manager of the executing team

Will be submitted for approval:
  • Create a digital version of the process map
    Will be submitted

Distribute the digital version to the rest of the executing team

Now that the manager has had the chance to look, give it to the rest of the executing team to use and ask them to report back any problems with its usability, or report if they find themselves skipping over sections. Is it too simple? Is it too verbose?

Take their feedback, and refine the map even further.

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