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The Process Mapping Canvas

A simple approach to mapping any of your company’s processes

Like every company in the world, you have a ton of business processes. Most of the time, they are implicit and not documented.

This can come as a surprise, as we all know that the efficiency of one’s business processes is the key to sound execution. Processes are just essential to maintain your Business-IT alignment.

Each month, we meet with hundreds of companies of all sizes and sectors. During these meetings, we spend a lot of time understanding each company’s processes before we start discussing how our solution can help.

Over time we have come to the conclusion there’s no standardized way of explaining a business process. Our customers all have different approaches.

One of the COO’s top responsibilities is to communicate how the operations’ team should handle the business processes. If he doesn’t do it well, it creates a natural misalignment among the company’s employees. As a consequence, the company’s operations become less efficient.

So a few months ago, we decided to tackle this process mapping challenge and help business teams to ask themselves the right questions, at the right moment.

In doing so we defined a canvas that allows us to reduce the time spent understanding our customer’s processes and to focus on the value proposition.

We have dubbed this recipe: The Process Mapping Canvas, or in short the PMC.

The goal of this post is to share our approach and give you the keys to using it to smooth your business process mapping efforts at your company and to help you make your operations even more efficient.

Our PMC consists of 3 simple steps and is intended to facilitate the creation of a BPMN diagram of your process.

In this article, we will use as an example a lambda P2P Ride-Sharing company. We will describe how we use the PMC to map the process into a BPMN diagram.

There are many BPMN tools available on the internet. The one we have been using and recommend to get started is:

Step 1 : Identify the process’ perimeter

Every process has a start and an end. So to complete this step, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the starting point of the process? A new driver’s signup.
  • What is the end point of the process? The new driver is on-boarded.

In BPMN, we use a circle with a single narrow border to represent the Start event. We also use a circle to describe an End event but this time with a thick border.

We create a Pool to represent the Ride-sharing company and a single Lane to explain that the driver is responsible for completing the task in the Pool.

Step 2: Define each step of the process

Then, we describe each step within the process by only considering the best case scenario. Don’t think about the edge cases to avoid complicating things at this point.

Ask yourself:

  • What’s the name of this step? Check profile informations.
  • Who is involved in this step? The Driver and the On-boarding Manager.
  • What data do you need to complete this step? The Driver’s license, Passport/ID and email address.
  • Where is the data stored? In the application database.
  • When is this step completed? When the On-boarding manager has verified the documents’ validity.

In BPMN, we represent a task — a step of a specific process — by using a rounded-corner rectangle.

Step 3: Handle the edge cases

Unfortunately, life is not always plain vanilla. It’s now time to handle what could go wrong in your process, step-by-step.

Ask yourself:

  • What trigger might prevent this step from being completed? If the driver’s information is invalid.
  • Describe each step of this alternative scenario based on Step 2. The On-boarding Manager will notify the customer with the incorrect information to fix.

And voilà! As soon as you completed this last step, the process should be easy to understand by all the stakeholders.

We have been using this canvas for months and it has saved us precious time during our customers’ meetings.

We’d love to know if you’ve tried PMC in your company. Let us know your experience in the comment section below and share your favorite BPMN diagram.

And of course, share this canvas with your friends if you like it!




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Sandro Munda

Sandro Munda

Founder of @ForestAdmin. Passionate about #entrepreneurship, #startups, #productivity and high quality #code/architecture.

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