February 02, 2015

Process Map, Smartwave

In Europe, public transportation is part of the city’s infrastructure and in big cities it is part of a daily routine of the majority of people. ‘Tube map’ is public transportation’s most important information. It schematically presents lines, stations and connections of various means of transportation, for example, overground and underground. The main focus of the map is to explain how to get from one station to another while making geographical details abstract.


Map isn’t necessary for those who use a particular infrastructure regularly but it is necessary if the infrastructure is developing and regularly changing and improving. If you are a tourist and you don’t know the city very well you can easily get lost. It wasn’t more than 80 years ago that Herry Back designed the first map of London’s underground tube. And as early as the second half of 20th century the map became an icon of modern minimalist design which gave birth to many creative successors, including us.

Business people need a simplified process presentation and it is prerequisite that the map is as simple as London Tube’s map. This is why we used big cities’ underground maps as icons for the business processes which we offer in our Smartwave app.


If we put the images of the processes, for example, BPMN diagrams in the presented list, it would be very difficult to discern them, they would be too small and very similar to each other.

Visual presentation of complex concepts is simpler if we use visual elements which had already been used and adopted by people in the past.

For this very reason we named our processes after the names of big cities with their metro maps. We wanted to achieve easier identification and display of possibilities offered by each of the processes. Users who model the processes can of course change the process icon at any time, depending on their aptitude.


In the details view each process can also appear as a BPMN 2.0 diagram which represents a valid option for end users of the app. This kind of process presentation is also used when modeling the process. Most importantly, no matter where you are, or what you chose for your process map to look like, they only represent a multiple view of the same operational reality.

‘Tube map’ process

Understanding a process is very similar to using an underground railway. If the processes are presented in this way more people can understand them, and not only business experts. Therefore, the initial preview of the process instances will be presented like ‘tube map’.


Stations are presented with circles which stand for the process elements such as initial and final events, activities and decisions. Bigger circles mark relevant elements as well as the points where the process separates, i.e. interchange stations. Elements of one process are connected with a line of the same color. If the line is discontinuous it represents optional sections of the process. If it separates to another process, corresponding lines are presented in a different color. Moreover, there are several colors which are taken. For example, green color points to a finished part of the process, grey - still not done, yellow - waiting for someone and red if there is some error. Duration of transitions can appear above the lines and by moving the mouse over map element you can get other details like: participants in the process, who created it, edited, etc.

Foundation of operational excellence

Using visual process representation like ‘tube map’ or BPMN diagram enhances legibility of the process and simple understanding of what the process is about. This kind of multiple approach is the foundation of operational excellence. Not only does it increase interaction and personalization but it also presents the business process in the form and language which is suitable for the end user on any device. These different views can be generated for various needs without duplicating the basic information.

Next steps

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Smartwave team

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