Developer on computer in bright office

What is a process map, and how do you create one?

August 22, 2018

A process map is a visual representation of activities within a process. Usually created as a flowchart, process maps help us understand the steps required to complete a workflow process. Organized into sequential steps, these maps allow for a better understanding of the bigger picture and how each process fits within the larger operation. Process maps can be used to define standards and procedures. They serve as a guide and help enforce procedures and the order in which the steps should be executed.

There are many ways to create process maps. Some may choose to use process mapping software rather than on paper or in spreadsheets. Reviewing the types of maps and design options can help you choose which method will work best for you.

Types of process maps

There are a few different types of process maps suitable for different goals that contain specific types of data presented. They come in an array of styles, but here are a few of the most common choices:

  1. Basic flowchart
  2. Cross-functional flowchart
  3. SIPOC
  4. Value stream map

Basic flowchart

This simple map charts out a process with inputs and outputs. These can be used to plan new projects, model and document the process, solve problems, help teams communicate, and manage workflows.

There are a few flowchart variations, including:

  • Detailed process map: The details of sub-processes are included in this map.
  • High-level process map: This focuses on the core activities involved and allows you to identify key steps and details.

Cross-functional flowchart

This type of flowchart shows the relationships between process steps and the team members responsible for them. It can also be called a deployment flowchart. These are used to identify key roles and responsibilities, highlight workflow steps, and identify potential failures and delays.


This acronym stands for “suppliers, inputs, process, outputs, customers.” This type of flowchart is used for identifying key elements and defining the scope of complex processes.

Value stream map

Value stream maps are used to present the flow of materials and information needed to bring products to customers. They’re used to record measurements, analyze data, gain insight, and identify where to focus future projects.

Process management mapping and improvement step-by-step guide

Now that you understand what types of process maps are available, it’s time to create one.

Learning how to create a process map is important for any professional who manages business processes or people. It allows you to more effectively create and amend current processes and helps you to accurately project workflow and delegate accordingly.

To create a process map:

  1. Start making decisions about your map. You’ll need to identify which process you’re going to map and what kind of map would best serve you. Determine why you’re mapping the process. Is it because it’s underperforming? Do you have a new strategy you’re going to try out?
  2. Next, assemble your team. It’s important to involve everyone who has a role to play in the process so they can contribute and offer their insight into the operations. This will help guarantee that no area of the process is overlooked.
  3. Gather data. In this step, it’s important to gather up all the information and data needed to successfully map the process. You’ll want to know where the process begins and ends, which steps happen in between, the inputs and outputs, and what role everyone involved plays. You will need a list of actions that drive the process forward.
  4. Confirm the sequence. Make sure that each step in the process has been organized in sequential order. This is a crucial stage for all team members to review and catch any possible errors.
  5. Design the map. It should reflect the current process steps using process mapping best practices. Use appropriate symbols for processes; we’ll get into which symbols to use next. Take a look at the current map and identify inefficiencies and areas of improvement.
  6. Implement changes. Start on a small scale, and if it’s successful, implement changes on a broader level. These processes should be monitored over time for needed updates and improvements.

Process mapping symbols and notations

Above, we mentioned the use of symbols in building a process map. These will conserve space and add to the visual nature of a process map that allows the user to conceptualize the project quickly. Here are a few examples of the way symbols can be used:





Represents a step or activity of a process


Represents that a decision must be made


This marks the start and end points of the process.


Represents the connection between two steps and direction of flow


Represents the presence of data or information for review

Business process mapping examples

For those who learn best by example, it may be helpful to take a look at some business process mapping examples or visual instructions. We’ve compiled a few resources that can help you get started in your process mapping efforts:

Using process maps with Quickbase

Process mapping is critically important to building and maintaining an organized and efficient business. When designing apps with Quickbase, a process map can be an invaluable tool. By examining your processes, you’ll be able to determine where a personalized app can step in to improve the process. If you’ve found areas in need of greater efficiency, a custom application built through our low-code platform can help make that happen.

Using our unique app-building platform to create your own software application will eliminate the need for long, messy spreadsheets and promote collaboration among team members.. Anyone with a basic understanding of spreadsheets or databases can learn their way around our app-builder because they don’t have to know specific or complex coding languages: Use point-and-click tools to build an app that best aligns with the needs and goals of the organization.

Quickbase allows you to increase team involvement, process efficiency, and customer satisfaction. Your map may indicate a need for optimization in many different areas. Quickbase apps can be used in a variety of project management areas to make document management systems, dashboards, templates, portfolios, timelines, and more.

Maximize your process management efforts using Quickbase! Start a free trial to get full access to all of our low-code platform and start creating your own business solutions right away. Don’t hesitate to contact Quickbase with any questions you might have: We would love to hear more about your business so we can recommend which package and features will best suit your needs.