Process mapping is a tool that can help you see the big picture of a process, understand how the process works, and identify potential improvements.
A process map is a diagram that shows all the steps in a single process. It can be as simple as a pencil and paper drawing or a complex computer-generated diagram. Regardless of how your process map is created, the more steps there are, the more complex the diagram will be.
The biggest benefit of process mapping is improving your processes by identifying and eliminating waste. This results in reduced costs which can lead to increased profits but has also been proven to impact your team, your safety record, and your customers.
For example, imagine you’re trying to streamline your company’s order processing system. You could create a process map that shows every step involved in taking an order, from the initial contact with the customer to shipping the finished product.
Looking at the process map, you might see that there are a few steps that aren’t really necessary, or that could be done more efficiently. By eliminating these steps, you can make your process simpler and faster.
When you’re trying to identify ways to improve your process, it’s important to gather your team and get their input. You want to include people who are closest to the process and who will be able to identify areas of improvement. In the later steps, when you’re trying to identify waste, it may be helpful to include people from all areas of the process so that you can get a comprehensive view of the issue.
What’s important to know when you create the current state map is that you’re probably going to have parts of the process that fall outside of the main area of responsibility. When you do, you can break that part of the process into what is called a swim lane. Think of a swim lane as a department, work center, area of responsibility; or things like that to denote where the process lands and who’s ultimately responsible for that part of the process. Another important part of the current state map is to include any type of decision-making step and to map what happens when the answer is yes or when the answer is no.
Now it’s time to list the steps. Start by writing a list of the steps that a person would take to complete each specific task within your process. For example, customer service representatives answer customer questions by following these steps: Identify the call, Find the previous conversations, ask questions to identify the customer’s question, Answer the question by referencing past conversations or research, and Finish with a goodbye message.
Next, draw a box for each step and write the step inside it. Connect the boxes using lines to show the order in which tasks are performed. Your process map may look like the one below, which shows how people write research papers in high school.
Identify major categories. Within your process map, you will have many sub-steps that can be grouped into major categories. For example, within the sample process map above, there are four major categories: Getting research materials, Writing essays.
Step number three is when we are going to analyze the current state map to design a future state map that eliminates waste throughout the process. This is the step in that you may want to include people from outside of the process that is being mapped. This could be people from the Department or work center directly before and directly following the process that we are mapping. When it comes to identifying waste within the process.
You can utilize the acronym DOWNTIME which stands for Defects, Overproduction, Waiting, Non-Utilized Talent, Transport, Inventory, Motion, and Excess Processing.
Step number four is when we go ahead and implement the future state map that we designed in step three. What’s important about the implementation stage is to ensure all of the people that directly touch the process have had not only a say in designing the future state but also understand what steps within the process have changed.
Step number five This is a step that not many people talk about, but one that is ultra-important when it comes to sustained results. Step number five is all about auditing and repeating. First, we’ve got to audit the process to ensure the future state is the new current state. When it comes time to evaluate if we need to repeat, we must go back and look at our KPIs or key performance indicators. Our KPIs are what we’re going to use to identify whether an additional process mapping and process improvement initiative is going to need to be done looking for new ways to identify and eliminate waste. Or if our KPIs indicate that we have already achieved sustained results whereby we’re meeting our goals and objectives.
Process mapping is a great way to understand and document a process. It is also a valuable tool to help optimize and streamline a process. Process mapping can be used in a variety of different industries and businesses. The key to creating an effective process map is to understand the process and the people involved in the process.
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