Business Process Map

Cite this article as:"Business Process Map," in The Business Professor, updated April 22, 2020, last accessed October 29, 2020,


What is a Process Map?

A process map is a depiction of the specific processes and activities within an organization. Generally, it is used to document how these activities and processes are happening. It demonstrates account roles, responsibilities, and standards. It tends to show how inputs and outputs flow through the organization. It divides these organizational processes into:

  • Main processes
  • Managing Processes
  • Support Processes

The process map generally shows how processes within the organization are actually carried out – not how it should be carried out. When a process map is created for the intended process or at the conceptual level, it is referred to as a reference process map.

How to make a Business Process Map?

A good approach to developing a business process map is as follows:

  • Process Identification – Identify the activities and processes that you want to document.
  • Gather information – This means observing and talking with activity participants to understand and gather information about how processes are being carried out.
  • Classify Processes – Classifying processes as main, managing, or support allows you to more effectively understand the purpose and related structure of the process.
  • Identify Key Steps – Attempt to identify the key activities or tasks that make up the process. This should have a begin and endpoint for the process.
  • Decision Points – Identify the key decision points for active participants that can affect the process flow.

Note: It can be very helpful to use specific software that allows for modeling with diagrams and descriptive symbols can be very helpful.

After completing a business process map, it may be useful for you to move on to creating a business process model for each specific process or activity. I

What is a Business Process Model?

The business process model generally provides a detailed description of a specific business process (including all activities within that process). This is in contrast to the business process map, which depicts all of the major activities collectively.
The business model tends to be less about how a process is actually carried out and more about how it is designed and should be carried out. As such, it should be used for analysis and process optimization.

Likewise, because the process model is often at the conceptual level, it may be referred to as a referent business model.

The primary components of a business process model include:

  • Process – The entire process from beginning to end.
  • Tasks and Activities – Individual tasks that make up the process.
  • Flows – The sequence for how activities take place in the process.
  • Events – These are triggers that start, end, or can re-direct a process.
  • Gateways – These are decisions that can re-direct a process.
  • Participants – These are the people of groups that perform the tasks or activities.

How are Business Process Maps and Business Process Models used?

Both the business Process Model and Business Process Map provide a way to understand, visualize, and analyze a business process or collection of processes. The objective of each is process improvement and greater organizational efficiency and effectiveness. They can be used as part of compliance, process improvement, or auditing functions.

Generally, the business process management lifecycle includes:

  • Modeling
  • Implementing
  • Executing
  • Monitoring
  • Optimizing

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