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Author: Adam Pearson


Mapping Success Together: Tips for Inclusive Process Maps

There are numerous things that we can do to make process maps more inclusive; however, while they tend to go against established practices, they offer a range of benefits to making maps more inclusive for all.


A process map should be standardized within a business to map out the steps to achieve a business goal and show sequential steps, tasks, and gateways. There are a few established standards (UML, BPMN, etc.). My aim is not to advocate methods but to encourage inclusive standardization. Consistency is key, as it enables comparison and evaluation and can also assist colleagues with neurodiversities.

Typically, there are two sight-loss personas: low vision and no vision. Low vision is when a colleague has a combination of: fields—the amount of sight you have (half-close your eyes to see top and bottom field loss). The other is acuity, which is how sharp it can be seen (almost fully closing your eyes until the words go fuzzy can demonstrate acuity loss). The huge amount of variation between fields and acuity loss means that it is very hard to get a one-size-fits-all solution to sight loss.

The second persona has no vision. This is typically what you think of when you think of the word “blind.” No vision means no useful vision—you may be able to see something, but you cannot understand it without third-party intervention. Only a small percentage of vision-impaired people have no vision, but it is crucial to ensure inclusivity for them.

Process maps are inherently visual, so the following tips are mostly based on low vision. Low-vision users, with some tweaks, can read process maps if care is taken by the business analysts to make them as inclusive as possible.


Firstly, some whole-map tips. Use a clear font, classified as “sans serif.” These are simple, non-fancy stroke fonts that are easy to read, e.g., Arial and Calibri. Bad examples are brush script, harlow solid, and monotype cursive. Another consideration is the font size. Typically, it is best to produce it in large print, size 14, or giant print, size 18. This is not just helpful for those with low vision but will also reduce eye strain for fully sighted users. San-serif fonts are also dyslexia-friendly.

Secondly, make the connectors, or the lines between process steps, consistent in both thickness and color. The thicker the better, as there is more chance of seeing them, but they must also be in proportion to the other objects, or else it will look so odd that few people will engage seriously with the map. This is the balance between usability and accessibility.




Thirdly, low-vision users will zoom in a lot more than they are used to, sometimes only having a few letters on screen. With this in mind, there are two things that must be considered: Navigation: ID codes. By coding every step, data object, or note, you allow a low-vision user to navigate quicker using metadata instead of engaging with the full object. Each object class should be different; typically, I use process steps as numbers, notes as N1, N2, etc., and data objects as D1, D2, etc. Depending on which software you use to map your process, this can also assist any user in searching quickly and efficiently.

Screen real estate is also an important consideration. The more you zoom in, the less you can see the bigger picture. So, if objects are spaced far apart, it’s harder to understand the map. I recommend placing objects close together. Where you have multiple connectors coming out of an object, line them up so they overlap, looking like one connector, and have them branch off with the connector text as close to the break as possible, allowing someone who is zoomed in to be able to follow with ease.


Fourthly, color is important. There are several vision-impaired color schemes, such as yellow on black, white on black, etc. These are all highly subjective but share one common feature: they are high-contrast colors. My advice then is not to use similar colors, such as black and grey, white and silver, or white and yellow, as these types of pairings are very hard to see and can be easily missed or unreadable. Neon colors are highly effective, as most accessible technology offers color inversion, and when you invert a neon color, it stays the exact same shade, meaning there can be no misunderstanding in color coding like RAG systems. I advise only using one color scheme, or at most, in the case of impact assessing a process, a RAG for change size and blue for new—all in neon colors.

Finally, for all users, but specifically No Vision users, think about object semantics. By this, I specifically mean connector lines. Accepted practice means that we have no arrow heads on lines, and a double arrow head is assumed. This is presumably to make it look nice. A screen reader, though, has no context for this as there is no semantic instruction to relay to the user. Therefore, adding doule arrow heads will allow the semantic meaning to go through the connector. This is because a screen reader will consider the connector itself, not the thing it is connected to, which is what a person with sight will do. All a screen reader will visualize is a line, and a sighted user will see the line and the objects connected.


To summarize, process maps are visual. We can make them inclusive of low- and no-vision users by adapting our frameworks and standards. Specifically, by looking at font type and size, object layout and identification, color schemes, and the semantic meanings of diagram objects, we can minimize the risk of low- or no-vision users not understanding, thus making the business more inclusive and effective.

These tips are by no means exhaustive nor gospel, so please feel free to use them as a starter for ten, and hopefully they will help you kickstart your own inclusive process map designs!


Web 3.0: The Future of Process Catalogue Management?

Web 3.0 technology, in my view, can be used for new innovations and has the ability to deliver positive change quicker. Specifically, Blockchain technology could allow for a transparent, automatic and secure way to manage a business’ process catalogue.

Traditionally, when analysing processes things like Upper/Lower Specified Limits, Service Level Agreements, and Defects Per Million Opportunities are used to understand whether a process is performing satisfactorily. This requires a BA to take measurements, validate them and then work with the business to pivot the process back to delivering the agreed standard. The typical business trigger event for this is either automatic or internal– it requires a BA to pick up during routine quality testing, or an actor to notice and raise through an agreed mechanism. This is because the process infrastructure is basically storage; it could be coined as “static management”. This means things can be missed, as humans make mistakes and the data does not work for the business, rather the business works for the data.

There have been recent advancements in technology, namely Web 3.0, which can reduce or potentially eliminate the human error element and turn the process catalogue into a dynamic storage, in which the data works for the business. In particular, Blockchain technology offers several features that could transform the way we work.

A Blockchain has several features, such as: Nodes, Ledger, and Wallets. Nodes are users/devices that hold the ledger, in full or in part. The Ledger is the record of transactions that happen across the blockchain and wallets are areas, in crypto blockchains, where the cryptocurrencies are stored.


At a first glance, this ecosystem seems locked to currencies, I believe it can be adapted to handle processes. Each process would need to be broken down into its steps and identified by its inputs/outputs and business actors. This dataset is then integrated into a blockchain – with each block containing the data from a single process step. In terms of a traditional process map, the block is the process step and the transaction is the connector lines between two process steps. In process terms it would be Step, Connector, Step; in blockchain terms it would be Block, Transaction, Block.

When the process is run, new unique blocks are added to the chain with the details of that unique process step run, which are then linked to further blocks/steps via transactions, providing a completely transparent and auditable record.


This setup has an infrastructure advantage because a blockchain validates transactions through decentralisation, using other blocks already in the chain. It means process rules are embedded in a chain from existing blocks and are then used to validate new blocks, resulting in a guaranteed uniformed process run, as the blockchain would only validate the transactions in accordance with the blocks already there.

The blockchain allows for easy performance monitoring, as each block is recorded with management information as well as process information and this is all in one place, it is easy for an analyst to calculate run times, business actor performance on individual or multiple transactions and process efficiencies.

Once an improvement is identified, the process is updated and released onto the blockchain, then becoming the single-source-of-truth for transaction validation, therefore only allowing the most up-to-date process to be followed by business actors. In this sense, the blockchain is both the governing authority as well as storage for processes.


The problem with this is that it is still reliant on humans picking up on the fact that a process is not performing, so whilst we have an enforceable process level to six sigma, we do not have the benefit of removing the human error or time lag associated with a drop in process performance.

This can be resolved using a feature of a blockchain called a smart contract. Smart contracts are automated digital contracts which trigger when the terms and conditions of that contract are met. There is an equivalent document in the business world, which sets out an agreement between two parties to perform in a particular way or to a particular standard under particular terms – a Service Level Agreement (SLA).

The smart contract is the Web 3.0 equivalent to the SLA. However, a smart contract offers much more than just an agreement, it self-executes which means as soon as the terms are met, action is taken with virtually no time lag.




The smart contract is created using an if/when then statement. An example smart contract can be if a customer makes an enquiry and no one contacts the customer in 3 working days, then an escalation notice is sent to the assigned persons manager. As this is automated, as soon as the condition is met, the contract is acted upon – meaning management do not have to spend time reviewing whether the conditions within SLAs, making both service and personal performance management easier.

There are, however, some issues with blockchains which need further consideration to overcome: a large number of transactions can cause lag on the chain, due to the required effort to process them all, meaning slower transaction times. It may mean that this model is best suited to small startups/businesses. Blockchain technology is still new, and therefore is not thoroughly regulated yet, meaning it can be difficult to fit in with current governance structures. This can be tackled by robust risk management and future legislation or policies, meaning this model may be suited to an innovator type business.


In summary, Web 3.0 Blockchains can offer improvements to the operation, governance and management of processes. By leveraging features of blockchains, it’s possible to move from a static process catalogue to a dynamic, automatic and smart infrastructure which reacts quicker to changes in business environments, freeing up staff to find other efficiencies or grow the business in other ways. While there are concerns and issues around things like scalability and regulations, it is clear that Web 3.0 technologies can offer new and exciting opportunities.


The Mind as the Canvas

In the ever-evolving world of business analysis, the ability to convey complex data insights and concepts is paramount. For many, Visualization is a fundamental tool, often associated with software applications such as Power BI, Tableau, or Excel. In these tools an image containing all data points is generated for visual consumption and interpretation.

However, for Business Analysts who are certified with Sight Loss, this traditional approach of transcribing an externally generated image visualization into the mind can present a barrier to conducting their duties. In order to overcome these barriers it is essential to embrace non-visual representation, not only to ensure the Business Analyst with Sight Loss can complete their job, but by doing so it also develops and encourages many other benefits for the entire business.


Using a traditional Visualisation method, namely consuming and transcribing an external image into the consumers mind for analysis and interpretation, presents significant challenges for those who cannot access the external image in the first instance. Visualisation is an internal process and we use external stimuli to reconstruct this in our minds. These mental images can be real or imaginary, for example if I ask you to think of a pink elephant, you can do so, despite it not existing. The objective of having a pre-generated image to transcribe is one of time saving through consistency. By having technology that converts non-visual data into a visual image saves the user from having to do this themselves. Further, it also ensures that every consumer of the image has the same input and is therefore the internal process goes from reconstruction to transcription.


Think back to the pink elephant, if two people had to imagine it and compare, there would be differences in the size of the elephant, the ears, the hue of pink, and many other variables. Any question raised by the variability can be removed when transcribing, because you do not have to think about the construction of the image just the result of the image.


It is therefore logical to conclude that the essence of visualisation lies in cognitive processing and data communication methods. The communication method traditionally gives a visual representation before entering the mind, which is usually accepted by the brain as fact. There can be no more clearer way to draw out the problems of this than the recent phenomenon of the Changing Dress, which appears either Blue and Black or White and Gold to different people. Both versions are subjectively true. We accept pre-generated images to be true because of various reasons from the size of the dataset the image has been generated from, to the relationship between stakeholders, to the attitude and aptitude of the Analyst.


The concept of non-visual data representation is a crucial avenue for enabling not only Analysts with Sight Loss to excel in their roles, but to ensure that the risk of incorrect data insight is minimised.




There are several benefits to not relying solely on a pre-generated image. Firstly, enhanced data comprehension, namely non-visual data consumption that relies on auditory, tactile, and textual methods to convey the knowledge of data as data points, not visual graphics. Utilizing alternative communication methods can allow access and interpretation of complex datasets in a new and engaging way. This approach allows for a deeper understanding of the data, in the same way that reading a book cover-to-cover (i.e. the dataset), instead of just the blurb (i.e. a pre-generated external image) gives a fuller understanding of the content.


Secondly, when presenting findings to stakeholders, it can be beneficial for them to understand it not in a mental-visual aspect but as data points, facts, and relationships. This includes verbal descriptions, accessible documents, audio tracks and storytelling (as opposed to story boarding). By doing so, analysts can articulate their insights clearly and persuasively without traditional visual aids or statistical jargon. It can also enable the stakeholders to engage more effectively with the data and can apply their own domain knowledge, further helping the project being undertaken.


Thirdly, for those BAs with sight loss, the advancement in technology means that they can process data more effectively with Screen Reader software and tactile graphics, building a graph in the mind. Much in the same way that following instructions on Google Maps and actually walking the route, are two very different experiences. These tools can provide real-time feedback and enable analysts to explore data, scenarios, and outliers effectively, all while maintaining the focus on the data itself, instead of interpretations of data.


Fourthly, a further benefit of non-visual communication is increased collaboration and teamwork.  Non-visual communication allows analysts to work seamlessly with both sighted and colleagues with sight loss, to share their findings, develop requirements, and craft compelling data narratives, centred on the concept or data’s intrinsic qualities.


Further to these benefits, non-visual communication can encourages innovative problem-solving techniques, because it does not funnel people into thinking visually, it does not bias them towards any particulars, by predisposing them to the stimuli of a pre-generated image. Analysts with Sight loss can apply their unique perspectives to explore different approaches and scenarios, contributing valuable insights to the analysis process without relying on visual cues.


In conclusion, within the realm of business analysis, non-visual processing is crucial for individuals who have sight loss to equally participate, but it can also present business-wide benefits. Embracing non-visual approaches empowers all staff members of an organisation to excel in their roles, offering enhanced data comprehension, alternative communication, and adaptive problem-solving techniques that focus on the data itself, not a pre-defined notion. As we strive for inclusivity and diversity in the workforce, it is essential that the business analysis field acknowledges the value of non-visual processing and provides the necessary support and resources for Analysts with Sight Loss to thrive.


In doing so, we ensure that all individuals, regardless of their Sight capability, have an equal opportunity to contribute their skills and insights to this dynamic field, with the primary focus on processing as the valuable core of their analysis.