To some people business process mapping can be an alien concept. If people are involved in running a business or participating in the way that a business is run, then they obviously understand the business don’t they? So why do they need to undergo a business process mapping exercise?

Well business process mapping is actually about more than simply mapping out the business and its processes, but it is about exactly what the business does. What is the function of the business? The core function, its primary reason for existence.

Although this sounds very simple, it can take time to actually agree on the core function of the business and people in different areas of the company may have different views as to what exactly its purpose is.

After discussing and then defining the function of the business or company, then the process mapping exercise looks are who is responsible for what and what processes are used within the business. Then it concentrates on how each business process can be evaluated in terms of success.

When this is complete, every single business process has been mapped out and the requirements of each process have been established. Then a business process illustration is drawn up. This can be in the form of a flow chart, value stream maps or boxes but it shows how each business process is done.

The creation of the business process illustration is important because it clearly defines and illustrates how every single process is done. This can help management and the workforce to have a full and comprehensive understanding of every process and with that understanding they can gain control over the company in a way that they simply cannot if they are unaware of the processes.

An Evolving Quality Tool

The use of business process mapping is not a new concept, even though it is still very popular in contemporary business. It originated in the USA in 1921 and since then it has been used as a tool for quality and measuring performance with little fundamental change although it has been updated over the years.

Part of this updating is the development of software tools that are now capable of providing a much more comprehensive understanding of all processes and they have revolutionised how data is collected and analysed and assessed.

This has resulted in process mapping becoming much more capable than it was in its early days. It can now ensure that processes can be reconfigured to become more efficient and it produces speedy analysis of data with the minimum of staff time and human resources being required.

The use of technology can also ensure that the actual exercise of business process mapping can assist with any legal obligations in terms of statutory compliance, so it is very much a multi-functional tool in terms of quality.

Business Process Mapping and ISO 9001

The quality tool ISO 9001 is very much dependent on business process mapping. The processes involved in securing ISO 9001 accreditation require any business to be very methodical and to undergo a business process mapping approach in all aspects of management. The business is then required to ensure that every single process that it has identified and mapped out is effective and that the correct process is the one that is used when it is appropriate to do so.

ISO 9001 also requires businesses to have efficient processes in the sense that they need to be continuously improved to make sure that they are efficient, that they use the minimal resources required and that they meet the core needs of the business.

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