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:
- Establish the process bookends. Determine where the process starts and stops.
- 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.
- Document and sequence the process steps.
- Socialize the map to build consensus.
- Analyze the map to identify opportunities for improvement – the gaps between your current state and ideal state. Target wasteful process steps.
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