Process Mapping

Summarizing the critical steps of your business processes

Process mapping is the activity of documenting and visualizing the process steps taken to create/deliver the organization’s products and services to its customers.


Process maps are useful for many reasons. Process maps help managers and operators to discover opportunities for improvement. In most cases, once the process is documented, in its current state, or “as-is”. With these maps in hand, the team can easily identify where the process varies from operator to operator and where significant process issues exist. The map can also help identify and address the common forms of process waste.


Other than using process maps to identify opportunities for improvement, maps can be used to train and orient operators, and demonstrate your process to regulators and other governing bodies.

Process maps can be created using two approaches. The low-tech solution is to document the process using pen and paper (or post-it notes). Or, using a process mapping software, such as Vizio.

Regardless of the solution, you are using to map your processes, it is important that you remember to document your process in its current state. Steps for documenting your process include:

  1. Establish the process bookends. Determine where the process starts and stops.
  2. Conduct a process walk, or GEMBA walk to detail the process steps. If a GEMBA walk cannot occur, consider hosting staff or small group interviews to understand the workflow.
  3. Document and sequence the process steps.
  4. Socialize the map to build consensus.
  5. Analyze the map to identify opportunities for improvement – the gaps between your current state and ideal state. Target wasteful process steps.

Although a tool this basic may not seem relevant or impactful, it is critically important that the team understands the process before they try to improve it. The benefits are process mapping are many. To mention a few:

  • Process maps help operates visualize the process they perform every day. In most cases, creating the process map will often result in the operators seeing their process documented for the first time.
  • Mapping helps the operators see what happens upstream and downstream of their work. The ability to view the process from start to finish helps to erode organizational silos.
  • Maps help operators see the waste that is inherent in the process. As the saying goes, “you can’t fix what you can’t see.”

To learn more about creating a basic process map, please refer to the provided video which will explain the steps for creating a process map in greater detail. To view the video, please click the image above.

Download the Free "Process Mapping" Instructions (PDF)

For all the advantages that a process map provides, it is critical that the map reflect how the work is “actually” conducted in the current state. To help collect this information it is strongly suggested that the project team participate in a Gemba walk. The Gemba, translated as the “place where value is created”, allows the project team to observe the process firsthand and interact with the operators who preform the work.

Gemba Process

The Gemba is a great source of information for project teams. As the team conducts the Gemba, it is important that they follow a few guidelines. Most importantly, the Gemba is not about solving the problem, it is about understanding the process.


Download the Free "GEMBA" Instructions (PDF)

Need help activating use of process maps in your organization?

Schedule a 30 minute coach call today and let’s talk through the details. 

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