The Many Methods of Business Process Mapping

By Jon Miller Updated on October 5th, 2020

One of our content goals for the year is to make our learning library more useful for knowledge workers. To this end, we are in the process of building the Business Process Mapping course.

What’s in the Business Process Mapping Course?

When completed, the business process mapping course will include twenty-one videos. We selected eight of the most useful business process maps. In this suite of videos we explain when and how to apply these methods. Many of these are old favorites in the continuous improvement community. A few of them may be new to some people.

There will be an overview of each type of map as well as guidance on selecting the right mapping method. And of course, there will be how-to instruction modules for each of the business process mapping methods featured below.

Transactional Value Stream Maps

A transactional value stream map analyzes a set of business processes that involves adding value through transfer of information from one subprocess to the next. This type of value stream map treats an information transaction as the “material” when creating a material and information flow diagram.


A flowchart is a diagram of a process, a workflow or a step-by-step approach to performing a task. Flowcharts show process steps using various symbols connected by arrows.

Swim Lane Maps

A Swim Lane Map is used to analyze complex business processes that are cross-functional in nature. This map gets its name from the fact that the horizontal rows represent functions within an organization or across different organizations, resembling lanes in a pool.

Makigami Analysis

Like many other methods, the makigami analysis visualizes the process steps, analyzes the information flow, and identifies losses and wastes.

One of the key differences about the makigami method is the format which guides the mapping and organizes the information. The format includes a section for a Swim Lane Map, the process’ information artifacts and documents, and the details of the time it takes for each activity and problems identified.

Process Charts

This old favorite is a simple way to make a compact but detailed diagram to analyze a process by observing and recording times and steps of actions as they happen.

It’s best suited for processes that are not too complicated, mostly sequential, and have few decision points or branching steps.

SIPOC Diagrams

The acronym SIPOC stands for suppliers, inputs, process, outputs, and customers. These form the columns of the map. SIPOC Diagrams are commonly used to get a high-level grasp of the total scope process and customer requirements, to identify problems or improvement areas in our process, and to properly scope an innovation, improvement or development project.

Turtle Diagrams

This diagram uses a simple template which resembles the shape of a turtle. The turtle diagram is a high-level drawing of inputs and outputs for a single process, including details of various resources, requirements and responsibilities to meet customer requirements. It’s also useful for orienting new employees to their job.

Business Model Canvas

The Business Model Canvas is a template to visually summarize an organization’s business model on one document. This allows us to evaluate options for different ways an enterprise can deliver value to its customers.

The canvas includes nine building blocks: Customer Segments, Value Propositions, Channels, Customer Relationships, Revenue Streams, Key Resources, Key Activities, Key Partnerships and Cost Structure. This mapping tool is useful both for innovation and revenue growth ideas as well as examining existing business.

What’s Live and What’s Coming Next?

We started with a set of five modules explaining how to apply value stream mapping to transactional processes. These are live now in the Gemba Academy library. Coming soon, phase two will feature the flowchart, the swim lane map and makigami analysis. When the third phase is completed, we plan to have 21 modules covering when and how to use all eight of the methods for mapping business processes above.

Is Empathy a Business Process..?

The course also includes modules on creating empathy maps. This is not a method for mapping a business process per se. It is more a way to visualize for understanding the thought process and needs of customers.

Nonetheless, it’s a valuable companion tool to other business process mapping approaches. Empathy maps fill the important gap of including the customer’s voice in whatever process we study.

Listening to the Customers’ Voice

The Business Process Mapping course was the result of requests from our customers to help knowledge workers map and improve their work. Knowledge work covers a wide range of processes. This course will provide the breadth and depth to get most organizations started in improving business processes. We look forward to hearing customer feedback on what other topics, knowledge and skills will make their continuous improvement journey smoother.

  1. shane

    November 20, 2020 - 12:16 pm

    I’d love to take this course. When will it be available?

  2. Tony Heath

    December 9, 2020 - 11:32 am

    Hi Jon. I just studied up on the Makigami method. I created a template in Excel for it. If this might be useful to you or your many followers, I’d be happy to send it to you.

    • Jon Miller

      December 9, 2020 - 8:08 pm

      Hi Tony
      That’s great. We plan to include some templates for this course. We’ll be happy to share yours with our learners.

  3. Arturo Torres

    December 21, 2021 - 11:14 pm

    I am interested in makigami videos.
    Is posible buy only this material?

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