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Performance Improvement Using Process Mapping
A Process Map is a picture of what is happening within a process. It is also called a flowchart. Process Mapping, used as part of a Six Sigma project is beneficial to helping organizations understand how and why a process behaves the way it does. Once a process is understood, process mapping can be used to improve it by simplifying, error proofing or automating the process.
How does it work? What are the major steps?
1. Define the process you wish to study
Clearly define the boundaries (or the scope) of the process you wish to study, i.e.:- where it starts, stops and where it interfaces with other processes;
Identify the “owners” of the process and the “process experts” - the people who actually do the job;
Identify key measurements needed to understand the process, eg: quantity, quality, time, etc.;
2. Define the level of detail required
There are usually three levels of process map used: macro (overview,) mini (typically called a value stream map) and micro. A micro process map will include detailed analysis including the steps and associated data.
3. Identify the steps within the process
Interview the “process experts”. Do this by walking the process with them, i.e. follow the physical flow around;
Determine key measurements for each step, obtain minimum, maximum and averages if there is identifiable variation;
Question for delays, queuing, re-work loops - people often forget about-these unless reminded;
Map the flow AS IT IS, not as the process owner or expert thinks it should be, or how it is going to be after some future change (eg new equipment due in any time).
4. Draw the current state map
Using the appropriate symbol, draw each step of the process and link them in correct sequence. There are a number of widely used software applications that can be used to facilitate drawing of the process maps. It is best to use standard BPN notation when developing maps. Data associated with process maps can also be analyzed using these software tools
Verify the map with process experts, owners and any other staff involved;
5. identify improvement strategies
Using the tools from Six Sigma identify appropriate improvement strategies.
6. Draw the future state map
Using the appropriate symbol, draw each step of the future state process and link them in correct sequence. Many of the software tools that are available can perform an analysis of the current and future state processes to calculate the rate of improvement in key performance metrics.
PBSI's performance improvement advisors have decades of experience assisting clients with process mapping and six sigma. We can train your team in process mapping essentials to allow them to conduct their projects or we can perform the process mapping ourselves. We can also help you select and implement a process mapping software tool. There are dozens of process mapping tools available on the market today and PBSI has used or experienced about 50 of them.
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