What is Process Map or Flowchart

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What exactly is process mapping, you have properly heard the terms process map or flowchart in the past for describing a process.

What is a Process

Processes are simply sequences of actions designed to transform inputs into outputs.
Processes should be measurable with performance indicators e.g. SPC. They are used to define how things are done for compliance and consistency, and helps define responsibility

The Process Map

The process map visually describes the flow of activities in a process, and includes all the process steps from the beginning to the end. To avoid confusion the process map is read from left to right, or from the top down like you would read a book.
To unify the understanding, standard symbol are used to describe each type of process step

Process Map for Better Understanding

Process Maps are used to give a better understanding of a process and gives a foundation for continuous improvement of the process (to improve a process, you must understand it). They can also be used to highlight problems, bottlenecks or duplication in a process.

Types of Process Map

There are several types of process maps, below you can see 2 of the most common ones.

Process Flowchart: This chart give a visual picture of the sequence of activities and decision points. It is useful to capture the initial details on a process, and additional information can then be added as needed.

Deployment Flowchart: Is also known as cross functional or swim lanes map. Here cross functional swim lanes are used to define the responsibility of each process step. The process can be followed as it moves between the lanes or departments.

Creating a Process Map

  • Identify the process or task you want to analyse.
  • Ask people most familiar with the process help to construct the chart.
  • Agree on the starting and ending point.
  • Agree the level of detail you will use.
    • It is better to start out with less detail and increase only as needed.
  • Look at areas for improvement
    • Is the process standardised, or are the people doing the work in different ways?
    • Are steps repeated or out of sequence?
    • Are there steps that do not add value to the output?
    • Are there steps where error occur frequently?
    • Are there rework loops?
  • Identify the sequence and the steps taken to carry out the process
  • Construct the process flow chart
  • Analyse the result
    • Where are the rework loops?
    • Are there process steps that do not add value to the output?
    • Where are the differences between the current and the desired situation?

How to use Process Map:

  • Help to determine who should be involved by identifying all the work areas in the process.
  • Use as a check sheet to collect data on where problems occur.
  • Use to investigate why rework is occurring at a certain place in the process.
  • Use the “ideal process” flow chart data to communicate your proposed solution.

Process Map Tips:

  • If a process step or box has 2 output arrows, consider whether a decision box is needed.
  • Remember that the people closest to the work know it best. Make sure people are involved in developing the flow chart.

If you are interested in learning more about process mapping or process improvements, then our 8D Problem Solving Training or FMEA Training might be interesting for you.

8D Problem Solving is a detailed training on how to effectively solve problems and prevent them from reoccurring, and FMEA focus on risk analysis and preventive maintenance.

Alternatively you can continue to our quality training page for an overview of the training we provide.

Go to Quality Training

Process Map