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The Best Process Mapping Template Guide to Get You Started

So you’ve heard about process mapping but you don’t understand why you need it or how to do it.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Getting started is the hardest part and I’m here to guide you.

Let’s take a look at why you should be process mapping, how to do it, and the best practices. I’ll walk you through an entire process map template and break down how we made it. 

Why is process mapping useful?

It’s simple: Process mapping makes everything better. Here’s how: 

Identifies inefficiencies

It’s easy for inefficiencies to occur in a process and because of that, it’s important to take a step back to try and identify any that have occurred. 

Process maps essentially give you an outside view of your operations, which makes it easy to identify the problem areas. 

Once the inefficiencies are known, you can take steps to fix them. If your company tries to stay true to the principle of continuous improvement, then process maps are an excellent tool to help you achieve that. No process is 100% perfect, but effective mapping can get them pretty darn close.

Delegate tasks

Sometimes we don’t realize that the wrong people are working on a task. Or that one department or one person is taking on too much.

When you get that outside perspective from the process map, you can begin to delegate the tasks better. You ensure that the right people are working on the tasks suited for them and that the workload is balanced. Doing that can also lead to less burnout in your team, which is a double win.

Improve communication

A stagnant process and “this is how we’ve always done it” attitude can be the death of good communication. But process charts can help bring it back to life.

By taking away any confusion about who is supposed to do what within a process, your maps will open doors for your team that will promote better communication. You can even add communication as a task in your processes to really drive home the point.

Simplify processes

Often processes get overcomplicated, which can cause many problems. These include decreased efficiency and poor communication.

That’s where process maps come to the rescue. You can break down complicated ideas into smaller, simpler steps that make everything easier.

Increase employee happiness

Simplified, standardized, and efficient processes which promote good communication are ingredients that, when combined, make employees very happy.

No one wants to work in a frustrating environment brought on by bad processes and leadership that doesn’t want to improve them. It’s a recipe for high rates of churn

Happy employees are loyal employees. Spend some time working with them to improve your processes and watch them shine! I guarantee they already have ideas. 😉

How to create a process map (using a template)

Okay, now that you understand why process maps are important to businesses, let’s get into how to actually make one. We’re going to use the Simple Hiring Process Map in the image above as a template to help us break everything down.

Identify the main tasks 

What are the main tasks in the hiring process? Don’t overcomplicate it. Identify the three or four most important tasks.

I would say they are:

That’s it. That’s what we are going to build from and you don’t need much more. 

“But there are way more steps than that! You’re missing blah, blah, blah…..”

Yes, there is a lot more that goes into the hiring process but the key to process mapping is starting as simply as possible. Just the bare essentials. Stripping the process of everything that makes it complicated also strips it away from the problems you experience during the process.

Draw a basic flowchart

Take the main tasks you identified and put them into a flowchart. Just a simple this > then this > and then this.

Remember, it’s just to help you get started. It’s always good to see where a process begins and ends. 

Take a look at the sequence and begin to identify areas of improvement. After that, you can begin using some of the different symbols (see below) to either add more detail or delegate tasks. When you do that, you can start to find ways to fix the problems you have.

We recommend that you do something to make the main tasks stand out. Either by making them a specific color or shape or increasing the size of the box compared to the subtasks to come. For example, we used colors to distinguish tasks from each other: 

  • Red: Defined, set actions within the process
  • Green: This-or-that intersections where a choice needs to be mdae
  • Blue: The first step in the process and the last step in the process

Add steps

This is where we start to add the details and it’s also where things can get overcomplicated.

So, what else goes into hiring? List the rest of the steps.

  • Review CVs
  • Send rejection email 
  • Schedule the second interview

These are steps you need to take in order to complete the tasks you listed at the start. You can place them on your flowchart under the task they follow before moving on to the next part.

Add conditionals

Conditionals are your “if this, then that” variables. You probably noticed that “send rejection email” and “schedule the second interview” don’t exactly go together. They may be under the same main task, but they don’t happen in sequence because they aren’t related.

This is why we need variables and questions on the process map to help us make sense of the conditionals.

For the hiring process, our conditionals are:

  • Meets criteria
  • Candidate passes?

After you review the CVs, you ask yourself if the candidate meets the criteria. If yes, you schedule an interview. If no, then you send a rejection email.

After the first interview, you ask yourself if the candidate passed. If yes, schedule the second interview. If no, circle back and send a rejection email.

Simple, right?

These final details tie everything up in a nice bow. They make everything easy to understand even though the process may initially feel complicated.

Finalize the map

Finalize the process map you made by showing it to others and getting their feedback. Everyone should be on board with how it looks and the changes you’re planning to make to the process.

Once you have everyone on board, you can take the process map and start using it as the blueprint by which you implement operational changes.

Process mapping best practices

To finish off, let’s cover some best practices for you to keep in mind as you embark on your process mapping journey.

Identify the problem

How are you going to fix a problem if you don’t know what it is? Take a look at the process you want to map and think:

  • Does it have any inefficiencies?
  • How is the communication?
  • Have any employees complained recently?
  • Have any customers complained recently?
  • Are there any glaring bottlenecks?

You may get one or more problems that come from asking these questions, but don’t worry! Finding problems in your processes is a good thing because it’ll put you on the right track to fixing them and having the processes of your dreams.

Use symbols

There are a variety of symbols you can use to make your process map, each one representing something different.

  • Box: A step in the process
  • Arrow: Direction of flow from one step to the next
  • Diamond: A question
  • Circle: A link to another process map or page
  • Half oval: A delay or wait
  • Parallelogram: Output or input 
  • Angled rectangle: Manual input
  • Wavy rectangle: A document

Use them to add details to your process map without using words. It makes a big difference!

Set clear objectives

Your process map isn’t going to fix anything if you don’t know what you want it to fix. This is why it’s important to identify the problems in your processes early on. By doing so, you’ll be able to set these clear objectives and use them as goals during your mapping.

Keep things simple

Remember that most process maps are meant to offer a bird’s eye view of a process. The tiny, intricate details don’t matter so much because that’s not where systemic problems lie.

Simplicity is key to good process mapping because it cleans everything up and gives you the most objective perspective possible to make positive changes. Doing less work will help you more in the long run.

Get feedback 

We’ve already touched on this briefly, but it’s important so it bears repeating. There is nothing more valuable than feedback. And in the context of process mapping, your team’s feedback could make or break a process’s efficiency. 

Involve them in the process mapping journey as much as possible and really take their ideas into consideration. They are the ones who put these processes into action and will have the best perspective on what changes to make. 

Use standardized notations

When using tools like symbols and colors to make maps more specific, make sure to be consistent. We even recommend making a key for people to reference when taking a look at the process map.

Standardizing notations is the only way to get everyone on the same page. 

Map alternative routes

If you are mapping a more complicated process, or you just want other options for running your processes, it’s good to map alternative routes.

It’s a good way to play around and think about processes from different angles to try and find the best route to take. It’s your opportunity to be creative and think outside the box!

You’re ready!

Now that you have all the information you need to get started, go forth and start mapping your processes!

Just stick to the principles we went through above and you’ll be creating the best processes your business has ever had. I believe in you!

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