Producing process maps for you business activity is one of the fundamental steps for business improvement – process maps have many uses and are one of the most powerful tools available – with them you can help implement standard processes (i.e. the same activity performed each time this reduces variation and inefficiency – and also use them as the launch pad for improvement activity by analyzing processes for business process waste)
Process maps use a series of process mapping icons and shapes that are placed sequentially in accordance with the physical process.
Process mapping needn’t be daunting – while it does take practice it’s fairly easy to master and it doesn’t require specialist equipment (pen and paper will do) – so what are the steps in producing process maps?
1/ Select a process and an objective
Firstly select a process to map – this might be part of a wider process mapping initiative or as an improvement activity – getting the scope correct will ensure that you stay focused on what needs to be captured.
2/ Select a team
Consider the stakeholders for the process – who carries out the activity – who are it’s suppliers and customers – think about who you need to involve to get an accurate representation of the process.
3/ Map the primary process
Map the process – capture each step – check with the stakeholders for decision points and what possible route the process can follow
4/ Map all routes
Make sure that you capture all routes within the process – a common error is to map the process when everything goes correctly however there may be decision gates and inspection points within the process which may set off different activity which you’ll need to capture
5/ Validate map with stakeholders
Once your map is complete – issue it out to your stakeholder group identified at point 2 –for validation – they should critique the map and identify areas where it deviates from the physical process – you can then correct these before the map is finalized.