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Process Mapping — Implementation and its Benefits

Process Mapping

A process map is a representation that illustrates graphical sequences of activities within a business process. They represent activities in a step-manner that helps the user to understand how a product/service is being made or how it is being carried out.

Process maps create a laymen’s understanding for users for better understanding and to find errors/defects that might come into the process in the future. They allow knowing how exactly an organization does its work, and how well it is performing in accordance with its objectives.

The process flow chart (aka Process Map) is a detailed flow chart of processes using color codes as symbols that drills further into a higher level map generated on the SIPOC.

The 7 Wastes approach is often associated with process variable mapping to capture complexity and improvement in opportunities by analyzing each step in detail.

In any organization/business, processes can be mapped and analyzed using various techniques depending on the achievement. Here are some of the most common techniques:

Various techniques can be approached for processes that need to be mapped, depending on what you want to achieve. The following are some of the most common techniques:

  • Simple-drawing maps: They use only boxes and arrows.
  • SIPOC maps: They are high-level summaries of the process.
  • Flowcharts: They provide detailed views of how processes should be.
  • Flow process charts: They are used to identify non-value-added activities.
  • Value stream maps: They are useful to analyze waste that occurs in the value stream and prioritize improvement opportunities.

Types of Process Maps

There are various types of process maps. Below mentioned are 3 of the most common process mapping techniques.

1) Flow Chart / Block Diagram

These process maps are used for high levels of processes. They grow exponentially over time, getting brief and detailed.

2) Cross-Functional Map / Swim Lane

These process maps rearrange the flow charts into lanes of functions. Hands-off is indicated and the process steps move left to right/up to down as time progresses.

3) Cross Resource Map

This process map drills down into functions, showing actual resource to resource.

Levels of Process Mapping

  • Automation Opportunities
  • Material Handling
  • Duplication
  • Redundancy
  • Decisions
  • Delays
  • Rework Loops
  • Non-Value Added Steps vs. Value-Added Steps

These levels represent the opportunities for waste elimination. Each step is followed carefully by Six Sigma experts to eliminate wastes before settling for waste reduction.

How to make a process map

Step 1: Define Goals

Start by assessing goals for the process. What outcome do you want to achieve? Will it add value to the project? What is the scope of the project/process? In other words, plan out the boundaries of the start and endpoint of the project.

Here are some considerations when kicking off a process mapping project.

Assess pros and cons

Communicate goals

Step 2: Identify Process’s Steps

Once you are aware of the goals and have an outlined scope, collect the necessary information to identify the process steps. Each step should be defined such that it is readable by anyone in the project team. Doing so will make communication easier.

Follow these suggestions to capture the steps in a process map.

  • Include metrics
  • Be hands-on

Step 3: Document The Process

Documenting process maps is segregate the steps and information gathered into a cohesive, easy-to-understand diagram. The best way is to utilize a flowchart.

Getting a process down in a document so that it’s clear to readers can be challenging. Here are some tips to help.

  • Avoid assumptions
  • Use tools

Step 4: Feedbacks and Testing

Once you are done with process mapping, collect feedback from those who will implement it or the ones who will directly play part in it.

This part is key to establishing a sound foundation for your process map. Therefore, keep these suggestions in mind.

  • Use metrics in testing
  • Optimize the process

Step 5: Launch and monitor

In the last step, you put your process map to a real test — Rolling it out. This includes communicating the process to stakeholders and training teams responsible for implementation.

Here are some tips to help with this phase of process mapping.

  • Focus on the goals:
  • Apply a gap analysis

Value Stream Mapping

In more recent times, Value stream management, a set of tools and techniques for automation process improvement has found its usage in the Lean Six Sigma movement. The process is used to determine which steps can be eliminated, refined, and consolidated, while at the same time identifying which steps call for investments to further enhance the value they bring to the end-user or consumer.

Both process mapping and value stream mapping capture data from event logs to build a more comprehensive picture of processes. But value stream mapping can capture more context from the applications used by the users.

“The biggest difference is that value stream mapping is focused on driving process change, while process mapping, mining, and discovery are well-suited to making existing processes more efficient.”

~Sylvie Thompson (associate partner of the digital supply chain practice at Infosys Consulting) (tag the person if possible)

Value stream mapping is not about a specific process. It is centered on analyzing the holistic big picture view of how value flows to a specific customer. Its goal is to provide greater strategic insight into how to deliver value to a customer.

Afterthought

Process mapping is not limited to operational workflows, i.e. implementing new software or chart burndowns in tracking procedures. It’s much bigger than that. The process mapping can gel into any module, giving you a unique set of eyes and understanding of the business, management, and other processes.

By applying process mapping across development, business and organizations, you get an eagle’s eye view of opportunities. It puts you on a path of continuous improvement that allows you to reach your goals.

Even though value stream mapping provides an out-of-the-box approach and visibility to solutions, it can be a fruitless exercise unless management is committed to the diagnostic and treatment phases.

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