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The Hidden Usefulness of Workflow Process Mapping and Workflow Diagramming

Nintex workflow automation makes it possible to perform your business processes faster.  Before you begin, it is a good idea to map out your process and build a workflow diagram.

First things first, what is workflow process mapping?  It is the initial step of creating a workflow, where users review their business processes before actually building the workflow.  The user will analyze the business process in its current state and define the people involved and wat actions are needed to automate the manual process.  You can compare process mapping to storyboarding a movie before it’s committed to film.

To map out workflows for a new process:

  • Have a clear definition of where the workflow should start and the goal that it should meet
  • Identify the principals involved in the business process
  • Recognize the actions that each person or department need to take for the process to flow
  • Define the resources that will go into the workflow: documents, applications, locations, other processes, etc.
  • Provide deadlines, if needed.
  • Identify potential bottlenecks

To map out workflows for existing/outdated processes:

  • Map out the current process that needs to be updated. In this step, users need to map out what the process actually looks like in real life.
  • Identify existing flaws and bottlenecks
  • Analyze possible solutions
  • Apply changes to the map, or start a new one

The biggest benefit of mapping out a process on paper is that it gives you a broad vision of the business process from start to finish.  You gain insight on all the moving pieces involved and will gain understanding of the goals and expectations.  You will be able to identify problematic areas that need further investigation.
For particularly complex processes, process mapping helps you to save time and resources when building the actual workflow.  Here are some guidelines on how to effectively map workflow processes:

  • Create a team of people who would actually use the workflow
  • Encourage open communication and discussion
  • Map the biggest process first, and then the smaller processes within

In the beginning of this blog post I mentioned workflow diagramming.  A quick definition: Workflow diagramming is the actual process of using software to create a workflow from start to finish

Workflows are usually built in the form of flowcharts that are easy to visualize.  Once you have your business process mapped out, you can begin assigning tasks and/or notification alerts for each step of the process

For simple business processes, users may want to skip the step of process mapping and jump right to diagramming the workflow in Nintex right away.  For complex processes, it’s beneficial to build the workflow diagram in concert with the process map.

To create a workflow diagram, keep your business in mind and:

  • Understand what triggers the start of the workflow
  • Understand what the result should be
  • Understand the steps that need to take place from start to finish
  • Use your process map to build your flow chart

A workflow diagram helps you view the steps and elements in your process. Plus, it translates our business process into an outline that makes problem solving easy

How to effectively build a workflow diagram:

  • Keep in mind that your workflow is always evolving, so your diagram will change with it
  • Make your first workflow diagram as basic as possible, such as getting an approval, and build on it later
  • Automate as little of the work as possible, and focus more on the process. Keep it simple
  • If you find that the workflow is taking too much time, revisit your process map and consider splitting it