McKinsey Process Mapping: Consulting Skill

Management consulting has a lot of tools and techniques. One instrument that has gained a lot of traction is the McKinsey process mapping. This is a method that is helpful for both professionals at McKinsey, but also candidates keen on enhancing their skill set. Process mapping plays a pivotal role in streamlining operations and ensuring optimal outcomes. It’s also how McKinsey consultants think through problems, so mastering this approach is a great way to augment your case interview skill set.

McKinsey Process Mapping

What Is Process Mapping?

At its most basic, what is process mapping? It’s a graphical representation of a process, capturing tasks and activities to achieve a goal, often through things like decision trees or stepwise flow charts. By visually documenting each step, stakeholders gain a comprehensive view of how different items interact. Hopefully, this ensures clarity and simplifies solving potential bottlenecks.

Process mapping is more than just adding icons to a PowerPoint presentation. One of the reasons many consultants enjoy process mapping is because it is one of the most people-centered tasks you can do on a project, usually involving many client interviews and developing relationships with a diverse set of stakeholders to optimize processes.

Process Mapping Examples

Take something as common and simple as a new employee onboarding process. Without a clear map, HR could miss crucial steps like background checks, equipment provisioning, or training schedules. With process mapping documents, organizations can trace each phase, ensuring no steps are overlooked and onboarding is seamless.

However, writing this all down isn’t enough for McKinsey process mapping. To build a helpful process map, you need to document this in a visual tool, typically using at least three levels of process mapping. It’s from this type of process that consultants learn the language like “second level” and “third level” thinking.

If you build a decision tree, level one should focus on the “objective”. In our example, this is “onboard employee”. Next, level two will usually be about the parties involved, essentially the “who”. In our case, this might be HR, Legal, and IT. Finally, you have level three, the “how”. With onboarding a new hire, these are things like “set-up in ADP payroll” and “provision laptop”.

With the full picture, you can easily see the full process for onboarding employees, and you’ll be able to either improve slow processes, eliminate unnecessary ones, or maximize efficiency processes.

How Does Process Mapping Benefit Companies?

Apart from clarity, process mapping benefits companies in various ways.

First, process mapping improves efficiency. By identifying redundancies or unnecessary steps, processes can be streamlined and optimized quickly.

Second, companies benefit from enhanced collaboration. With clear roles and responsibilities, teams can work on either achieving their daily goals, or collaborate on changing and improving processes. Third, training is immensely easier with appropriate process mapping. Think of the above example on new hire onboarding. With a map like that provided to both the hiring managers and the new hires, getting set up in a new role would be much easier.

How To Create A Process Map

Curious about how to create a process map? Split up this process into three steps.

  1. Identify and collect information on the process. This sounds simple, but you’ll be surprised how complicated basic processes become when they are left without essential process mapping updates and improvements. This can involve document review, stakeholder interviews, and comparison with best practices, and it will usually be where you spend most of your time learning how to create a process map.
  2. Choose your symbols and target artifacts to develop. This can be the three level breakdown discussed above, expressed graphically on a page, or it can be a left to right flow chart, including responsible parties and steps or processes to achieve a goal. New consultants often think this is where they should spend their time, but this step is usually the fastest once you’ve gathered the information.
  3. Finally, get feedback and iterate. Process maps are complicated, so start simply and add detail as you gather more information. Once you have this process document on a page, you will quickly learn the details of each process from the people that give feedback on your process map. Show it to your stakeholders, including the client, and get their feedback to improve the process.

Process Map Template

While the principles remain the same, every process map will look different. To start, check out these flow chart examples of process maps. These templates demonstrate the simplicity of the final document for process maps, and how a process map template can help simplify your work.
Remember that the hard part is understanding the process well enough to document it simply, and rest assured that any process could be documented in a similar way, no matter how complex.


Process mapping will help you think like a consultant. If you are currently preparing for interviews, or recently started a management consulting firm, mastering the skill of process mapping will quickly enable you to deliver outsized results to your stakeholder, whether in an interview or on a client project.


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Filed Under: Consulting skills