Process Mapping vs. Documentation: What You Need to Know?

Process Mapping vs. Documentation

Imagine you’re in a college lecture where your professor verbally explains some processes. You have a textual document to refer to the same. Do you understand the process well? The answer is No. In the same context, imagine you have a pictorial representation of the process your professor verbally explains. Will you understand the process this time? Of Course, Yes. The same concept applies to Process Mapping. It is the graphic and pictorial representation of the business processes to help understand, analyze, and assess them well.

Business Processes can be simple and complex. Every company member should be capable of understanding all the company’s processes for an effective workflow. Hence, to clearly understand the procedures and systems of the company, Process Mapping is a must in the business. But does process mapping alone do the job effectively? The answer is No. 

Process Mapping alone doesn’t improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your business. It is just a part of the larger entity, Process Documentation. Mapping some data or processes is challenging; hence, comprehensive process documentation is crucial in a business.

Enhancing Process Map Effectiveness with Supporting Documentation

Enhancing Process Map Effectiveness with Supporting Documentation

Process Mapping decodes a complex business process into a simple form via flow charts or diagrams. It visually depicts the company’s operations through charts, flowcharts, diagrams and symbols. It shows the visual representation of the workflows and systems in the company, which is relevant for the stakeholders and another company workforce to understand and help with the optimal functioning of the organization.

However, more than process mapping is required to enhance the effectiveness of your business processes. You will need the support of Process Documentation to reap maximum benefits for efficiently managing your business processes. Here are some of the shortcomings of Process mapping that will force you to incorporate process documentation.

  1. Workflow interruptions (bottlenecks and exceptions)
  • The process maps usually do not show the abnormalities in a business process.
  • It also needs to show the loopholes in a business process, which makes it extremely risky for a company.
  • It is always important to cover all bottlenecks and secure your business processes for the smooth functioning of your organization.
  • Hence, proper process documentation is necessary for business process improvement.

  1. Responsibility and ownership of tasks
  • The only function of process maps is to show the flow of a business process.
  • But, each process in a business has several steps and sub-processes which are designated to the workforce in your company.
  • You must know who is doing what task to find the accountable person when a business process fails.
  • Process maps need to show a clear picture of who owns which tasks and activities. 
  • Hence, it will create a lot of confusion leading to setbacks in the business processes.

  1. Time spent on tasks and estimation of deadlines
  • Through process maps, you also cannot assess the time given to each person to finish the job.
  • Every process must be finished within a constricted timeline for the smooth functioning of the organization.
  • If there is a delay, you must know the exact person accountable who did not meet the deadline.
  • However, with process maps, it’s highly impossible to estimate deadlines.
  • Hence, process documentation is the ideal solution in this situation.

  1. Information flows and resource accessibility
  • For a business process to run smoothly, it is crucial to understand the resources and information flow in your business.
  • You must know how your workforce is accessing vital information and what their resources are.
  • With process maps, understanding such intricate facts about business processes is impossible as it is just a graphic or pictorial representation of your business processes.
  • Hence, accessibility and availability of information in your business can be depicted in process documentation.

Process Mapping is just a part of Process Documentation that helps establish the flow of business processes. On the contrary, process documentation can help understand a business process in detail. It can also assist in assessing and analyzing the loopholes in the business process to find and correct the accountable person. It can also help correct minor mistakes your workforce makes, like crossing deadlines, etc. Process documentation can be beneficial for the overall betterment of your organization.

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Getting Started with Process Documentation

 The best way to get started with process documentation is by understanding the current business processes in your organization via process maps. You will know which area requires further improvement when you understand the process flows in detail. Those are the regions where you must incorporate extra process documentation to make the workflow better. 
Here are some of the best practices for process documentation:

  1. Consulting all stakeholders involved in the process
  • Yes, consulting every person engaged in business processes, be it departments or individuals, is a great way to get started with process documentation.
  • Conversing personally with all the people involved in your business processes can help you dwell inside your business systems, analyze areas that need correction, and understand the efficiency of the process.
  • It will also help you define clear ownership for each task in a business process.

  1. Tracking process exceptions without over-complicating
  • It would be best to track process exceptions without recording each possibility, as it can consume a lot of your time and energy.
  • It will help in getting work done on time without missing a deadline.
  • The timely delivery of products or services in a business is highly crucial.
  • Also, you will only be burdened by recording some exceptions and complicating business processes.

Planning for workflow enhancements

By now, you have started with process documentation. Your next step will be to focus on business process improvement in your company. What should you do? Well, you must identify those areas in your current business processes that require improvement by using the following methods:

  1. Aligning processes with company vision and goals
  • Your business processes must align with your company’s vision and goals.
  • It will help you assess your processes better.
  • If you know the end goal of a task, you will learn how to align the mission accordingly.
  • You will also be able to decide which task is suitable and which is not.
  • The redundant tasks can go on a dump, and you can improve the efficiency of your business processes.

  1. Identifying value-added tasks and eliminating unnecessary activities.
  • When running a business, you may encounter many unnecessary tasks.
  • Keeping such redundant tasks alive in your business processes can cost you money, energy, and time.
  • Hence, it is crucial to identify tasks that add value to your business and remove those that are not necessary.
  • It will improve your business processes and help you increase the efficiency of your business.

  1. Considering software automation and upgrades for process improvement
  • Once you have identified different tasks in your business processes, it is time to improve their efficiency using technology, BPM software.
  • There may be some redundant yet essential tasks in your business that can be automated to provide maximum efficiency and effectiveness in your workflow.
  • Some other processes in your business can be made simpler using technologies or third-party software.
  • So, it is essential to consider different upgrades in your business processes to improve the overall functioning of your organization.

Using Process Documentation to Map Your Workflow

After finishing the above steps of process documentation, it is high time to map your workflow. Below are the ways to map your workflow:

  1. Centralizing relevant information through process documentation.
  • By now, you have understood the business processes in your company in detail. 
  • It’s time to bring all the information in one table to help develop process maps.
  • Mapping the business workflow becomes easier when bringing everything to a central location.

  1. Organizing process activities and tasks based on user roles
  • The primary thing you did in the above steps is to communicate with every person in your workforce responsible for specific functions in a business process.
  • While communicating with each member, you must adequately understand each one’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • The above information will help you design individual tasks according to their expertise and calibre.
  • You can efficiently group business process activities according to the individuals and divide each activity into specific tasks.

  1. Handling exceptional situations with the responsible user
  • Your next step is to consider the exceptions in your business processes.
  • As you know, process maps do not include exceptions, so it is ideal not to add information about abnormalities in detail on your process maps.
  • The member of your workforce responsible for the particular exceptional condition will take charge and resolve the issue when required.
  • However, you can include supporting documents ideal for understanding and resolving particular exceptions in the business workflows for business process improvement.

  1. Creating a clear visual representation of the process map
  • Now you are done with creating your process map.
  • You must ensure that your process map represents all the activities in a business process from start to end.
  • Since process maps are visual representations of your business processes, it must be appropriate to showcase each activity.
  • With proper visual representation, you can gauge whether the business process supports the company’s mission and vision.
  • It will also give you a clear picture of which tasks need to be removed or updated at this stage to finalize the process map and documentation.

  1. Aligning the process map with the company’s mission and identifying necessary updates
  • In the end, the final destiny of every process map is to align with the company’s mission and vision.
  • Everything you do in your business, every task or process must accomplish the goals or mission set initially.
  • Organizations must stick with their core values and goals to reach the top.
  • The proper alignment between the company’s mission and business processes will depict the clarity and trustworthiness of the organization.

Embracing Proper Documentation

After designing the process maps, supporting the visual graphics with supportive documentation is crucial. The best way to incorporate supportive process documentation is by embracing proper documentation methods.

  1. The power of proper process documentation
  • Imagine you’re submitting a project to your school. You’ve mentioned some hard-hitting facts in your project but have yet to support them with relevant documentation. Will your project be successful? No, right.
  • The same principle holds with process documentation.
  • When the visual representation of your business processes is supported with proper documentation, your processes become powerful.
  • These documents help in clearly determining your company’s workflow.

  1. Establishing a foundation for accurate process maps
  • Process documentation is a must for every process mapping.
  • Several aspects of the process maps need to be revised, and clarification can happen only with supportive documentation.
  • These documents establish a baseline for the process maps of the business systems in your organization.

  1. Identifying participant roles and value of processes
  • The limitation of process maps is the precise definition of all business processes.
  • Through process documentation, you can quickly identify and determine the roles of each participant in a business process.
  • It will also eventually improve the value of each process in your business with detailed documentation and clarity.
  • The ultimate goal of every business process is to satisfy their end-customers and make the company profitable, both of which are possible with process documentation.

  1. Combining process documentation and mapping for streamlined workflows
  • We have understood the value of process documentation and process mapping individually.
  • In reality, process mapping is a part of process documentation.
  • Ideally, the combination of process documentation and mapping can help streamline workflows in a business.
  • Both these processes, in combination, can work wonders in improving the efficiency of workflows in your business, eliminating redundant tasks, removing lags in a business process, and engaging in different workflows.
  • For the best results, it is ideal to opt for process mapping along with process documentation for your organization.


Process Documentation and Process mapping are an integral part of any company. Every organization must evaluate its business process and make amendments from time to time. Process maps are a visual representation of the workflows in your company. However, they could be more finely detailed due to the lack of bandwidth. They represent the business processes superficially in graphics, charts, tables, etc.

On the contrary, process documentation gives a detailed overview of all the business processes. It also ensures to include the person responsible for specific tasks and their deadlines. Process documentation can eliminate redundant tasks from your business and improve the efficiency of your business. 

Overall, the need for process mapping and process documentation is equally important to make your company successful. Both together improve workflow efficiency, can help remove unwanted activities from the pipeline, can help include technologies in the business, like BPM software and align the business processes with the ultimate goals and vision of the company. Suppose you’re keen on improving the business processes in your organization for growth and high revenue. In that case, it is ideal to adopt process documentation and mapping.

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