13 Process Mapping Tools for Business Efficiency
Updated July 21, 2022
Businesses are always looking for ways to create more effective processes, increase production speed and improve the quality of their products and services. Many project managers and business leaders rely on process mapping tools to help them identify areas of improvement within their organization.
In this article, we define process mapping tools, explore their benefits and review 13 of the most popular process mapping tools.
What are process mapping tools?
Process mapping tools are software programs that allow you to create visual process maps. A process map is a graphical document that represents how a specific process works. Many organizations use process mapping tools to help them identify the steps involved in a specific process, increase their efficiencies and improve their workflow. Process mapping tools can provide business professionals with clarity and the analytical tools they need to make informed decisions that can save time, decrease costs and provide more value to customers.
Benefits of using process mapping tools
While business leaders may use process mapping tools for a wide variety of reasons, there are some key benefits all process mapping tools have in common. Integrating process mapping tools into your management strategy can:
Improve communication with team members, clients and key stakeholders
Allow you to test different scenarios
Increase trust with clients and investors
Make it easier to understand process documentation
Define roles and responsibilities for your team members
Identify areas for process improvement
Aid in the development of new ideas and critical thinking
Reduce costs associated with product or service development
Improve your team's performance and productivity
Measure the effectiveness of a specific process
13 Types of process mapping tools
While you may choose to draw your own process map by hand, there are also numerous process mapping tools that can make this task much easier. You may choose a digital process mapping tool if you want to develop process maps more efficiently, make quick updates to the document and share your finished process map with your team or clients. Here are some popular process mapping tools you may be interested in learning more about:
Gitmind is one of the best free online process mapping tools available. It comes with a wide variety of templates you can choose from to create simple process maps, which can save you time. You can also modify your process map by choosing different shapes, fonts, colors and more, making it easy to identify important process elements. Gitmind works on any web browser and includes a mobile version for basic edits. Once you've completed your process map, you can export it as a document or use the URL link to share it with your team, clients and key stakeholders.
Creately is another popular process mapping software program that you can use to create different types of diagrams. One of the best features Creately offers is the ability to collaborate with other users from anywhere in the world. This can make it easier to share ideas and important information. You can get started by selecting a pre-made template designed for your specific industry. Some industries Creately provides templates for include engineering, marketing and education. This can save you time and help you identify key elements relevant to your specific process.
Many professionals enjoy using LucidChart because it works on every browser and device. LucidChart makes collaborating easy by offering a chat feature with real-time comments. It also integrates well with other productivity apps, such as G-Suite and Microsoft Office. If your team already uses another productivity app to track processes, LucidChart could be a great option for you to transfer your information easily.
Edraw is an excellent option if you are looking for a process mapping tool with a wide variety of features. The interface itself is very intuitive and offers an automatic layout for process maps to save you time. Edraw includes a large library of symbols and templates for specific diagrams, such as workflow diagrams, data flow diagrams and business process models. You can also customize the color, font style, size and shape of each element in Edraw.
5. Visual Paradigm
This process mapping tool is a popular choice for software development companies that follow agile project management. Agile project management is a fast, flexible and iterative project management process that breaks large projects down into smaller and more manageable tasks. Visual Paradigm provides an intuitive, drag-and-drop interface and an extensive library of shapes to choose from to make creating process maps easy. It also gives users the option to animate their projects, which can be a beneficial feature if you plan to present your process map to your team, clients or key stakeholders.
6. Google Drawings
Many professionals use Google Drawings because it is associated with a well-known and intuitive brand. This process mapping tool is completely online and browser-based, making it easy to share with other team members, clients and key stakeholders around the world. While Google Drawing includes a more basic shape selection than some of the other process mapping tools, it does offer free storage, which makes this a cost-effective option. The process maps you create on Google Drawings also never expire, which can be helpful if you plan to revisit or update your documents regularly.
If you're looking for a process mapping tool that allows you to have full creative control, Canva might be the best option for you. This tool allows you to embed professional-looking illustrations and motion graphics, which can be beneficial if you plan to create a slideshow or presentation of your process map to share with your team, clients or key stakeholders.
Canva also makes it easy to upload your own visuals, which you can use to include logos or other key brand elements. Since Canva is a web-based program, you can access it from any web browser, making it a convenient option.
If you're looking for a simple process mapping tool that is quick and easy to understand, Gliffy is an excellent option. This process mapping tool offers several templates and themes to help you efficiently build professional-looking diagrams. Gliffy also makes it easy to share projects with your team via social media. Many professionals enjoy using Gliffy because it allows you to revert back to previous versions of your process map. This feature ensures you can always access your work.
Cacoo is one of the most collaborative process mapping tools available. If you plan to have multiple team members work together to create a process map, this may be the solution for you. Cacoo provides activity updates to make tracking changes and receiving status updates easy, which can improve communication and increase teamwork. This program integrates with a wide range of other productivity applications to ensure your team can access all the information they need efficiently.
If you're looking for a process mapping tool that's interactive, Visme provides a wide range of appealing features. Visme offers users the ability to incorporate animations to give visual elements like shapes and text movement. You can also apply transitions or pop-ups to create presentations that are visually appealing and engaging. You can access Visme online or offline. Users can also choose to set a password to protect their private projects.
Another popular process mapping tool is Draw.io. This software is completely free to use and offers an intuitive, online interface to help you create simple process flowcharts and in-depth process maps. If you're looking for a straightforward process mapping tool on a budget, Draw.io might be the perfect solution for you.
12. Microsoft Excel
While Microsoft Excel is widely known as a spreadsheet tool, it also has the basic features needed to create process maps. If you're already familiar with Microsoft Excel or use Microsoft Office for your other work-related tasks, using this program to create process maps might be a good option for you. If your team is also familiar with Microsoft Excel, it may be easier to train them how to create process maps in this program.
13. Microsoft Viseo
If you're looking for a program that has more process mapping features than Microsoft Excel, but is still a part of the Microsoft family of products, Viseo might be a good option for you. Microsoft Viseo comes with different functionalities based on the version you purchase, but all of them include a wide variety of process map templates and powerful process mapping features. Microsoft Viseo also includes OneDrive storage to make it easy to share your completed process maps and projects.
Common types of process maps
Once you have selected which process mapping tools you plan to use, you can identify what type of process maps you want to create. Here are some of the most common types of process maps:
SIPOC diagrams: Many project managers start by creating a SIPOC diagram to help categorize their initial ideas. SIPOC stands for suppliers, input, process, output and customers. You can collaborate with key stakeholders and process owners to identify high-level information related to each of these categories to develop a SIPOC diagram.
BPMN process maps: BPMN process maps, also known as business process model and notation maps, can help project managers and business leaders break down the processes for handling errors and exceptions. To build a BPMN process map, start by identifying what the ideal process looks like when everything runs smoothly. Then, identify potential challenges you may encounter and how your team can overcome them.
UML diagrams: Unified modeling language (UML) diagrams are used in specialized industries, such as software development, that require more in-depth process maps. There are 14 unique UML templates that apply to different industries. You can use a search engine to research these templates to determine if one of them is right for you.
Value stream mapping: If your goal is to streamline an inefficient process, value stream mapping (VSM) might be the right choice for you. Start by creating a step-by-step map of how the process is being done today. Then use this as a visual guide to help you identify areas where your team can improve.
The input-process-output model: This model is commonly used to create process maps for systems analysis and software engineering. The model divides projects into three steps based on their the input, process and output.
Tips to use process mapping tools effectively
Here are some tips that can help you use process mapping tools effectively:
Identify the start and end points of the process: Before you identify the steps involved in a process, identify what the start and end points are. This can help you set parameters and limits around your process.
Simplify your visual cues: Keep your visual cues simple and include a key that defines what each cue means. This can make it easier for any member of your organization to read your process map.
Focus on the essentials: Include only the necessary details on your process map. This can make your process map easier to read.
Include key stakeholders and team members: When you create your process map, include key stakeholders and team members. This can ensure you have all the important information and steps listed on your process map.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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