Business process mapping is a concept that uses written words and visual layouts to explain typical functions. As the practice has become more popular, a number of business process mapping tools have been developed to make it easier and faster. The most widely used tool is process mapping software, which can offer many benefits to an organization, including the ability to document existing processes and ensure that they are effective in achieving the goals of the business.
These tools can also provide process modeling, which allows real-time insight into how proposed changes could affect existing processes and the overall business function. Another benefit of the software is to help automate existing processes and integrate them across multiple areas of the business. Mapping tools can help businesses comply with regulations such as ISO 9000, which might require documentation of quality system processes.
The first step in business process mapping is usually to document existing business processes. Business process mapping tools provide the ability to create flow charts and other tools that visually illustrate existing processes and their relationships to one another. Once processes have been documented, they can be analyzed and reviewed to make sure they adequately capture the real-life activities of the organization. Process mapping also makes it easier to identify inefficiencies and areas for improvement within processes.
Next, the business may create models of the processes that have been mapped out. Modeling allows proposed changes to the system to be implemented in hypothetical situations, which allows process owners to observe the possible outcomes of a change and assess whether it effectively addresses the inefficiencies they may have identified in the first step. Having process simulations allows a number of proposed changes to be implemented and their effects observed and evaluated before actual organizational changes are made.
Organizations also may use business process mapping tools to automate existing functions, increasing efficiency and uniformity across different departments. Software can help the systems of different departments "talk" to each other and share needed information. Process automation frequently saves time and money, and helps larger businesses implement uniform workflow processes across all areas of the company.
Uniformity may be necessary for organizations needing to comply with various regulations, such as ISO 9000. Many regulatory agencies require businesses to document their processes and guarantee company compliance. These tools can provide the needed documentation, track individual compliance, and identify areas where additional training is needed.