The term process mapping describes a technique for planning out a project in business individual and collaborative ways, to clarify the sequence through which some specific objectives will be achieved. While related to flowcharts, it is a bit more involved, as it involves both clarifying the steps to be taken, and improving the interaction of the parties who will be part of the process. It is usually important that the direct participants be involved in the mapping, so that they can have a better sense of what the the exact goals are, and take greater ownership of the project that they will be working on.
It is best to use a facilitator whose professional background lends itself to completing process mapping for a business process. This step eliminates the need for training staff in the mapping, permitting the planning to proceed more rapidly. Team members involved meet to review what the process will be and draw a map of how it will be implemented. Standard flowchart symbols may be used to visualize the project, or a variation that suits the interests of the members who will be working on the plan. A proprietary diagram system is not necessary in most cases.
The planning meeting is also the occasion for identifying difficulties that will impair the completion of the project, or otherwise cause complications. Projecting discreet start points and end points for each stage of the process is also helpful, such that participants are clear what activities contribute to the plan, and what actions may be unproductive or a diversion. This encourages accountability on the part of the workers regarding the performance of their specific tasks. Outcome projections that target definite levels of accomplishment may also be added to the plan depending on the needs of the project.
Process mapping allows planners to improve the focus of the project and to identify concrete aspects or factors such as customer and supplier requirements, level of detail required to be managed, defining the process owner (the person with decision-making powers at a given stage or department), and other particulars. It also provides in completed form documentation as to what the process is, what the steps or time frames are, and who is chiefly responsible for what. One such planning is done in a coordinated fashion and visualized in a standardized way, all workers involved get put on the same page in understanding and implementing the project.