It’s critical to have a good understanding of the processes used within your company, but how do we best document them? One key quality tool used to clearly show how a process works is process mapping. Analyzing and understanding the processes used within your company can be difficult, confusing, and time-consuming, but our team is here to help! We’ve created an eBook that outlines how process mapping can help your organization identify areas for improvement or enhancement. Below, we give an overview of this quality tool, but download the free eBook as we cover in detail the key tools and steps for process mapping in quality.
What is Process Mapping?
Process mapping is a quality improvement tool used to generate a visual map of workflows and processes. It provides a way to show how processes work in a very clear and concise way using flow charts or workflow diagrams with graphical illustrations of the steps. It clearly shows the steps, timing, handoffs, inputs, outputs, and people involved in a process.
When is process mapping used?
A process map is used when you want to better understand and potentially improve a process. By mapping out the process visually, and analyzing and capturing the required steps, you will increase understanding of the process. These tools can be used for any type of process that involves multiple people, departments, steps, and inputs/outputs and when you want to get a clear picture of who does what in what order. It can be used for something as simple as ordering a sandwich at a deli to as complex as a space shuttle launch.
Process mapping is often used in process improvement initiatives, such as Lean Six Sigma or business process reengineering, or for the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for processes such as document approval, steps in a manufacturing process, or onboarding new employees. The goal of process mapping is to help organizations streamline their processes by identifying inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and areas for improvement.
What are the benefits?
Generating a process map will help people to follow the process flow without difficulty. It allows you to analyze the steps to see where the process can be improved by eliminating redundant steps, streamlining the process, eliminating bottlenecks, and optimizing the workflow.
Procedures are typically written in a narrative format, which can be difficult to visualize. As is often said, “a picture is worth 1,000 words,” so we know that a visual representation of the flow will appeal to those who are visual learners and help address different learning styles. The process will be clearer, more concise, and easier to analyze for all users. Understanding the current status of a process is a fundamental step in being able to improve it.
Additionally, a process map will clearly communicate who is responsible for each step in the process and illustrate where handoffs occur. This is especially useful when you have multiple departments involved in a process, as they may not realize the interdependencies of their work.
Process Mapping Tools & Steps
There are several tools and approaches to process mapping. The key is to make your process maps as easy and simple as possible to read and understand by anyone in your company while providing the needed information. You will want to include only the necessary details on your map – no more or less than what’s needed to identify areas for improvement. Once you have decided what type of map or diagram is most useful for you, there are plenty of tools available to help you create and draw the process map. The software used is not nearly as important as the process you use to gather the relevant information. Download the eBook to explore process mapping tools and the 5 key steps to help your organization generate an accurate and useful process map!