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Create a process map in Excel

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Ref: 201205301638PEV
Last Edited: May 30th 2012

Creating and editing maps with Excel

Process Navigator’s Excel connector tool is used for creating and editing maps (in text form) by users. They can then be imported or exported to Process Navigator. There are minimum requirements that must be met before mapping can commence.

It must be saved in Excel format (xls or xlsx)

It must contain a Sheet named Process Elements and the sheet must contain:
  • Shape Master 
  • Reference 
  • Text 
  • Predecessors (comma delimited list)

Creating basic maps

We use the reference column, to uniquely to identify each shape. No outputs are used in Excel, so Predecessors are used to define the inputs. Entering a reference number in this field results in a connection being made between the shapes when imported. To link multiple inputs, enter references separated by a comma. Shape Master and Text columns correspond to the master on the stencil, and the text to displayed in the shape. This is sufficient to generate a map using Process Navigator. A sample minimum file is shown below.


 Providing the mandatory columns have been completed, Process Navigator will import the file. The order of the rows is not important other than that the Node row is the start of the page, and every row beneath it is presumed to represent a shape on the same page. When the next Node row appears, this begins a new page.

Adding Properties

To start adding properties to aid reporting, (to show how long an Activity takes to perform or Risk analysis), add a column to the Process Elements sheet and name it Prop:Name, where Name is the name of the property.  For example, in the sheet below, when the map is generated, the shape will have a property in it called 'Tested' and its value will be TRUE.

This value is then searchable in the Process Library and can be reported on. If a property is created in the Excel but is not in the properties file, when viewed in Visio, it will show as a user property. This is not a problem. To overcome this, add it to the Properties.xml file.

Adding standard Drill downs

Once the basic structure of the Excel interface has been created, you can add a drill down to a process. Add a further column named Drilldown and set it to Yes for any Activity that drills-down. There has to be a corresponding Node row with the same Text.

Adding Drill downs to an external file

Creating a drill-down to an external file is a little more involved, set the Drilldown column to Yes. Add a Hyperlink to the Activity corresponding to the intended target of the drill-down. If this file does not exist, it will be created on Import. Hyperlinks are optional extras, and because any given shape can contain 0, 1 or more hyperlinks, they are specified on a separate worksheet.

To illustrate, suppose a file contains a shape (an Activity called 'Perform an external drill down' with a reference of 17) that you want to drill down onto the external file. We will call this target file DrillDownTarget.vdx. Create the spreadsheet, name and save the file DrillDownSource. An example is shown below:

 Add a 2nd sheet to the file called Hyperlinks (if it does not already exist), as follows:


Source Reference must be a value that appears in the Reference column of the Process Elements sheet. The hyperlink Address is the name of the file to drill-down to. If this file does not exist, Process Navigator creates it when it performs the Excel Import.

Sub Address is the name of the page (sheet) within DrillDownTarget (leave blank to have Process Navigator automatically name it), and Description is the mouse over text.

Process Navigator will by design, create DrillDownSource and DrillDownTarget when you import from Excel. It automatically creates the drill-down from the Activity 'Perform an External Drill Down' to a page of the same name in the file DrillDownTarget.vdx.

To Import the process see HERE

Please note: If you connect two activities together in Excel, Process Navigator will give you a warning on input, connecting two deliverables together does not.

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