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Business Process Mapping

Business Process Mapping refers to activities involved in defining exactly what a business entity does, who is responsible, to what standard a process should be completed and how the success of a business process can be determined. Once this is done, there can be no uncertainty as to the requirements of every internal business process. A business process illustration is produced. The first step in gaining control over an organization is to know and understand the basic processes (Deming, 1982; Juran, 1988; Taylor, 1911).

ISO 9001 requires a business entity to follow a process approach when managing its business, and to this end creating business process maps will assist. The entity can then work towards ensuring its processes are effective (the right process is followed the first time), and efficient (continually improved to ensure processes use the least amount of resources).

Recent Developments

Process mapping has in recent years developed due to software tools that can attach metadata to activities, drivers and triggers to provide a more complete understanding of processes. For example, data elements, KPIs, Times, Volumes, documents, files, databases, compliance applying to an activity can be attached to improve understanding and achieve several business goals simultaneously. Valuable analysis might include identification of duplicated use of data elements, proof or lack of proof of compliance.

The developments mean that process mapping is no longer two-dimensional but multi-dimensional; capable of achieving several important business goals:

Business process re-engineering
Regulatory compliance
Activity analysis
Service level agreement (SLA) role clarity (RACI)
Simulation
Making process maps available using a web-browser only means that communication to, and access by stakeholders, is achievable - thus improving compliance, training and end-to end process understanding.
Legislation such as "The Sarbanes-Oxley Act" (also known as SOX) has increased the requirements for improved process understanding and visibility of compliance issues.

Quality improvement practitioners have noted that various graphical descriptions of processes can be useful. These include: detailed flow-charts, work flow diagrams and value stream maps. Each map is helpful depending on the process questions and theories being considered. In these situations process map implies the use of process flow and the current understanding of the causal structure. The purpose of these process maps is to document and stimulate the understanding of y=f(x); where the y represents the outputs of a process and x represents the various inputs. These inputs would include sources of noise otherwise described as nuisance variables.

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