Innovate – Process Maps

Process Maps

A process map is a planning and management tool that visually describes the flow of work. … A process map is also called a flowchart, process flowchart, process chart, functional process chart, functional flowchart, process model, workflow diagram, business flow diagram or process flow diagram. The major components of a process map include the inputs, outputs and the steps in the process. A good process map should illustrate the flow of the work and the interaction with the organisation. It should make use of common language (symbols) that are easily understood by everyone. An ideal process map should contain proper detail with respect to multiple paths, decisions and rework loops.

Why is it used?

Process mapping provides the visual glimpse of different processes of the business. It provides the necessary information and helps to determine the Who, What, Where, Why, When and How aspects of the process and problem, and even guides towards possible solutions. Some of the reasons for the need of a process map are:

Pictures guide better than words. The use of graphs, charts, tables and images guides better than a big compiled report with lot of data fixation issues in it. Process maps facilitate improvements in the process, since it becomes easy to pin point the specific areas that need changes, like bottlenecks, delays, capacity constraints etc. in the light of efficiency and effectiveness of the process. Decision making becomes fast as it deals with the ‘show me’ aspect and not the ‘tell me’ aspect of the process and the problem areas.

The improvements made in the process can easily be tracked using process maps since it becomes possible to audit and understand different areas in the process as well as the organisation. Visual illustration for training would be much more effective than any oral tools explained, as the visual examples register faster in human brains and helps them understand the things better and fast. In the need of change, when the organisation moves on making the changes without understanding the current working process, it is likely to commit more mistakes or deploy its resources in creating more troubles. Process maps provide a detailed outlook of the current process and guides the effective management of change.
Process maps serves as a measurement tool for a process, that is very much necessary to manage and finally improve it.

Steps to creating a process map

Step 1: Identify the problem:
What is the process that needs to be visualised? Type its title at the top of the document.

Step 2: Brainstorm all the activities that will be involved:
At this point, sequencing the steps isn’t important, but it may help you to remember the steps needed for your process. Decide what level of detail to include. Determine who does what and when it is done.

Step 3: Figure out boundaries:
Where or when does the process start?
Where or when does the process stop?

Step 4: Determine and sequence the steps:
It’s helpful to have a verb begin the description. You can show either the general flow or every detailed action or decision.

Step 5: Draw basic flowchart symbols:
Each element in a process map is represented by a specific flowchart symbol, which together represent process mapping symbols:

-Ovals show the beginning or the ending of a process.
-Rectangles show an operation or activity that needs to be done.
-Arrows represent the direction of flow.
-Diamonds show a point where a decision must be made. Arrows coming out of a diamond are usually labeled yes or no. Only one arrow comes out of an activity box. If more than is needed, you should probably use a decision diamond.
-Parallelograms show inputs or outputs.
-Common Process Map Symbols

Step 6: Finalise the process flowchart
Review the flowchart with other stakeholders (team member, workers, supervisors, suppliers, customers, etc.) to make sure everyone is in agreement.
Make sure you’ve included important chart information like a title and date, which will make it easy to reference.

Helpful questions to ask:
-Is the process being run how it should?
-Will team members follow the charted process?
-Is everyone in agreement with the process map flow?
-Is anything redundant?
-Are any steps missing?

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