Process Mapping

Process Mapping

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Exercise that shows the activities performed in a certain process. It demonstrates where a process begins and ends (process boundaries). The steps and the flow of information in a certain process can be demonstrated through the use of graphic symbols: arrows, rectangles, and ovals, which are used as follows:

  • Information received form a source outside a process boundary (e.g. a programme request) is demonstrated through a rectangle.
  • Any activity that is carried out within a process (e.g. completing a form) is demonstrated with an oval.
  • The flow of information between activities (inputs and outputs) is demonstrated with an arrow.

Once completed a process map helps identifying links, poorly defined activities, and those activities that do not add value to the process. Non-value-added activities are those that do not contribute to the organization or the client needs, resulting in waste (unnecessary duplication of tasks or responsibilities; idle or waiting time when no task is performed, etc.).

Non- value-added activities are one of the major reasons for performance gaps. Documenting and comparing current performance and expected one helps understanding the nature of the gaps and their location, facilitating the design of measures to address them through a procedure analysis.

Procedure analysis is a systematic process that documents step-by-step the process for completing a task within a project. [1]

Toolkit.png Conducting a Process Mapping

Step by Step

  1. Think about the major steps of a process, without necessarily thinking about their sequence. Consider the following:
    • What activities must be performed to complete this process?
    • Who performs each activity?
    • How much time does it take to perform each activity or step?
    • What are the external inputs?
    • From where/whom external inputs come from?
    • What are the outputs?
    • Where do the outputs go?
  2. Document the information as you reflect on the questions. In the beginning capture only the details that matter on major steps to avoid getting stuck documenting too much information.
  3. Organize the information by identifying the output and the input.
  4. Identify the first major process activity - any activity that is carried out within a process.
  5. Determine the flow of information to and from this process activity.
  6. Define intermediate steps (if not possible make notes and come back to this step later).
  7. Identify the next major process activity, document the inputs and outputs and determine the information flow, linking all major process as well as inputs and outputs.
  8. Examine eventual notes taken and eventually go back to the respective steps to complement information.
  9. Verify the accuracy of the information by retracing the steps. Review the process map, consulting other involved stakeholders.
  10. Start analyzing your map to uncover the performance gaps (Procedure Analysis).[2]

Job Aid

Pdf.png Conducting a Process Mapping


  1. Adapted from "A Pactical Guide to Needs Assessment". John Wiley & Sons
  2. Adapted from "A Pactical Guide to Needs Assessment". John Wiley & Sons