5 process map templates to document, streamline, and optimize your processes

Inefficient processes carry a big price tag for businesses. Formstack’s State of Digital Maturity report found that 51% of U.S. workers spend at least two hours a day on repetitive or inefficient tasks. That translates into an estimated $14,560 per employee per year that could be invested in growth. 

One of the best tools for streamlining efficiencies (and banishing inefficiencies) is a process map. Just like a geographical map helps you orient yourself and find the best route, a process map offers a systematic approach to finding the most efficient path forward.

What are the stages of process mapping?

1. Define the scope

First, identify a process to be mapped. Comb through UX research or internal success metrics to pinpoint a challenge in your business, then narrow your scope down to a single process to optimize. 

Let’s say that you’re a product manager and you’ve noticed more bugs in the code you’ve shipped over the last quarter. Creating a process map for your bug fixes and deployment process might be a logical step. 

Define the process you want to map and analyze. Document any objectives you want to achieve, such as lowering the number of bugs reported or decreasing the time to deploy fixes. Then, determine who needs to be involved in the mapping process. 

How to visualize it: Visualize ongoing user feedback through a UX research repository or user research synthesis, so you can pick up on trends. An action priority matrix or problem prioritization workshop can be valuable to help you choose which priorities to tackle first. 

Use this template

2. Gather information

Once you’ve defined a process to map, it’s time to start gathering information. Connect with teams and individuals that touch each part of the process to explain their role, including which inputs they receive, which actions they perform, and which outputs they send along.

In the bug fix example, you would interview or hold a workshop with developers and the QA team to understand their roles in the process. List the activities involved in sticky notes or an online workspace, like Miro. 

How to visualize it: Create a SIPOC diagram to document all of the steps, inputs, outputs, and roles for a process. A SIPOC (Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, Customers) diagram is a visual tool that clarifies understanding and supports process standardization. 

3. Create a high-level flowchart

Once you’ve documented all of the roles, inputs, outputs, and action steps, you can begin to put them in order. Use a mapping tool to create a current state or as-is process map documenting your process. 

How to visualize it: Create a basic flowchart like this current state flowchart from Miro. Use symbols and shapes to indicate starting points, steps, decisions, and endpoints.  

Use this template

4. Refine the process map

Once you’ve created the high-level flowchart, engage your stakeholders to strengthen it. Ask teams to confirm its accuracy, provide feedback, and add more detail. This can be done asynchronously or synchronously through a virtual workshop

How to visualize it: Refine your initial flowchart with more details. For example, you can add color coding or swimlanes to show each party’s responsibilities. 

5. Analyze the process map for potential improvements 

This next crucial step will open up the doors for progress. Once the current state of the process is documented, look for bottlenecks and areas with frequent delays or inefficiencies. 

It’s also important to identify non-value-added activities or steps that don’t add overall value to the process. These often include unnecessary steps, duplicated efforts, or approvals that slow the process down. Consider which of these you can eliminate or streamline to reach your goals more efficiently. 

How to visualize it: Value stream mapping is a useful exercise to differentiate between value-add streams and non-value-add activities. 

6. Implement and maintain the process map

Once you’ve identified action steps, create a future state process map for your team. Monitor the new process to ensure it works as intended, and make any necessary adjustments to optimize its performance. 

As you do this, monitor any key metrics identified in the first stage to track progress toward your goal. Processes evolve and business needs change, so schedule regular reviews of the process map to keep it updated and relevant. 

How to visualize it: Create a future state process map to document the new process. Use a Kanban board to manage the action steps needed for improvements. 

How to visualize the stages in one collaborative workspace

The best way to manage these stages and your stakeholders is by pooling all of your research, brainstorming, and process mapping into one workspace. That way, participants can refer back to earlier versions and visualizations, and integrate data or information from third-party plugins. 

With Miro’s drag-and-click boards, it’s easy to document, improve, and share your processes. You can run brainstorming sessions and workshops in real-time, and add comments and video walkthroughs to create alignment. 

5 free templates for visualizing process mapping stages

Another benefit of an online workspace for process mapping: You don’t need to start from scratch. Explore hundreds of templates and user-generated workshop examples to suit your needs. 

Process map template

Use this template

At the start of the mapping process, it’s helpful to have a simple linear chart to brainstorm action steps. This Miro template offers just that: columns for each stage, with space to add activities and notes via stickies. This is perfect for the gathering information phase, then you can take all of those steps to order in a flowchart. 

Basic flowchart template

Use this template

This basic flowchart template is simple and uncomplicated for anyone new to process mapping. Use pre-populated shapes to represent entry points, endpoints, and decision points. Arrows show a process flow and relationships. Once you’ve copied the template, you can customize everything from colors to shapes to text to fit your needs. 

SIPOC template

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This SIPOC template by Leanscape founder Reagan Pannell outlines the SIPOC process with clear labels and descriptions of each section, helping teams understand all the components in a process and identify any gaps. 

Value stream mapping template

Use this template

Value stream mapping can be complex, but it lives up to its name — you’ll gain so much value through seeing a holistic view of your process. This template for value stream mapping guides you through mapping the basic elements (material streams, information streams, cycle time data, etc.) of your process so you can assess what can be cut to reduce waste. 

Use case flowchart

Use this template

This template by Product Manager Manar Alboqami includes swimlanes for multiple users or points of view, which can help build a full picture of all possible flows and paths (both happy and unhappy). There’s enough to start with that a user can easily build on it for many different scenarios, for instance mapping a user flow for a successful account signup versus one that encounters an error message. 

Map your way to process improvement

Broken processes waste time and resources, but a process map can guide you toward increased efficiency and better team alignment. With these process mapping templates, you’ll have a roadmap to follow so you can document and optimize your processes, whether you’re manufacturing products, developing software, or onboarding new employees. Download these templates, customize them to your needs, and start improving today.

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