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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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