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Business Process Mapping for Improvement

Business Process Mapping - Productivity Improvement

Business Process Mapping (or BPM) details the steps a business takes to complete a process;

Business Process Mapping BPM

Business Process Mapping BPM

a process could include;

  • setting up a new client on a CRM system,
  • manufacturing a product,
  • producing a report, document
  • hiring an employee,
  • invoicing for a service.

All organisations consist of a large number of processes; processes that move through departments and can include suppliers and customer before they produce an output. if you’ve ever used the Porter Value Chains then you’ll be familiar with the idea that understanding how processes move across your departments can deliver a strategic advantage.

A Business Process Map should shows the

“what”, this can  be a headline name for the step followed by a more detailed description

“when” (the sequence, the order of work), this lists the steps in the order they are completed

Some maps might include the “where”, and “how” for the steps in the process, these can help uncover the answer to the main question

“why?” are we completing these steps? 


The ONE Insight Only Your Business Process Map COULD Tell You, if you know how to ask!

Your business process map will tell you lots of things as we’ve mentioned. There is one insight you should gain from your BPM, business process mapping, activity you may never see any where else.

How long does the map take to complete. A simple question but how many of your processes do you know this time for? 

NOTE: this isn’t how long does each activity, each step take BUT how long does the process take in total? from starting the process to finishing it?

Look above how long does processing an invoice take? How long does it take for you to manufacture your product or service?

Business Process Mapping – Start to Finish 

Think about the process of buying a house through a solicitor;

For most of us the individual activities will only total 4 hours. 

The Process Map, the process of buying a house, from the moment we talk to a solicitor; takes at least 10-12 weeks to complete because of delays between the activities.

Think about that; the steps, activities that make up buying a house using a solicitor total 4 hours but take over 10 weeks to deliver!

If you have a process you’re thinking of mapping – STOP! think how long it takes from start to finish, then check.

The ONE Problem Business Process Maps Should Always Uncover 

There is one small problem with processes in businesses and organisations;

Processes Change! People Change Them – every day, mostly in small ways, often to try and make them better, for them but often with unintended consequences. 

As a business owner or department head you may have put processes in place, when you first started.  It’s inevitable that these will have been changed, altered, or even have been misunderstood by those who have followed you. 

People who come after you will have a different view and these differences may mean that 

  1. Work is completed in a different, often longer, sequence to the one you designed,
  2. Work takes different times, depending on who does it – due to their training on or knowledge of the process, the software and who changed it,  
  3. Work is produced to different quality standards, again depending who completes the process. Meaning that the costs of delivering the work are different. 

What does that mean for YOU and your CUSTOMERS?  

If you can’t be certain of

  • the quality of the steps in the process, 
  • what each step will be,
  • the order of the steps,
  • who actually does the work
  • which software is delivering at each step

If you can’t do the above then it’s likely someone has introduced risk into your business, with that comes costs.

You’ve also introduced variation which means the customers can’t receive your best service, not the one you want anyway.

You’re also at risk of losing the chance to plan and work out the capacity of what you can deliver.

It’s often usual to even find that staff can’t agree where a process actually begins and ends. It’s also usual to find that staff don’t agree on the names for the major steps in the process.

Think about a simple example, Staff Recruitment; 

does it start with the advert? or the agreement to recruit the member of staff?

Levantar Business Process Mapping

Levantar provide Business Process Mapping solutions that help individuals, departments, businesses to understand the reality of their processes. They can  be used as part of a wider continuous improvement programme or consulting project or to help with training improvement techniques. 

We do this for a range of organisations and departments from Law Firms, to Manufacturing, Engineering to Accounting teams, through to Energy companies.

We also share our knowledge on this subject with students at Leeds University Business School and those on the Goldman Sachs 10KSB programme.

Want to find out more? Fill in the form below to contact Mark Greenhouse for a free chat about how we can help.

Or read about our Business Process Mapping Tips here

Maybe you want to go further than just mapping processes; you want to make them faster, reduce the risk of your processes then read about our Business Process Improvement Consulting Services.

LEVANTAR     (verb) - to lift, to raise up

He'll get back to you in the next 24 hours.

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Over 2,500 students at Leeds University Business School have attended our Business Process Workshops

Call Mark Greenhouse MEng, BEng on 07712 669396 to find out more about our Business Process Mapping Services Consulting & Training

Alternatively contact him on email Send Mail to Mark


Why are Business Process Maps Important?

The building of Business Process Maps means that you draw out from staff their  different interpretations of the process. 

As a first step this will make communication about the process easier.

Once you've got an agreed way - the correct steps in the correct order then you can at least ensure everyone knows what needs to be done, when; that's progress

The next step is to look at how you can improve the steps;

  • remove the duplicated steps,
  • fix the steps that are broken, poor quality
  • identify which steps are bottlenecks
  • the steps that no longer add value.

In our experience the best way to improve is to turn your Business Process Map into a Value Stream Map.


A Business Process Map shows what is done, in what order and how.

What it can often be missing is how long does the OVERALL PROCESS TAKES.

The Quality of each step in the process is often missing as are the skills and experience required for each step.

If you still have an A-Z, the Process Map, then think of a Value Stream Map as the Sat Nav equivalent

A Value Stream Map builds on the Process Map work you've already done. It builds a rich picture of what is happening.

It establishes how long the Overall Process takes. Think about the car journeys you take, you sit in traffic, wait at lights and junctions. You aren't travelling all the time - it's the same with your work processes.

A Value Stream Map also looks at the quality of each step of the process. Have you ever had to the previous department, individual or the customer and ask them to clarify what they need you to do. That's a quality issue.

It will also understand the Skills and Experience required for each stage and identify any bottlenecks.

If you still have an A-Z, the Process Map, then think of a Value Stream Map as the Sat Nav equivalent


If you'd like to explore the problems that many organisations have with Processes - feel free to request our Guide to Frustrations - STOP Throwing Time and Effort Away!

These are the things we have discovered,  during our years helping others, that stop processes from working, as we'd like. The things that frustrate you, your colleagues, your customers.

Lean Manufacturing Training & Consulting Across the UK



Business Process Mapping


Call Mark on 07712 669396 for more details on Business Process Mapping Training & Consulting