Process mapping

Process mapping

«A bad process will beat a good person every time» W. Edwards Deming

How well do your process flow? Are your activities value-adding?

What do you measure to ensure good quality? 

Does everyone agree on how the process is performed? Is the process performed the same way every time? 

To improve a process, we need to understand it.

Process mapping helps us understand our process to improve.

Advantages with process maps


There are different process maps for different purposes. They all have in common that they are visual and make it easier for people to understand their role and how they fit into the big picture. 

Process mapping visualize how activities are connected.

Process mapping focus on the process, not the people. If a process does not work properly, it does not help with skilled people to perform the process. 

Other advantages with process mapping are:

  • It describes how activities are performed and the work flow
  • It can be used to train new people
  • Makes it easier to identify where to measure to improve the process
  • Helps you understand where problems occur and what some of the causes may be
  • It identifies many important characteristics you will need as you strive to make improvements
  • The individual processes are linked together to see the total effort and flow for meeting business and customer needs

Performing a process mapping


Start by identifying the scope of you process: what is the start and end of your process? 

Then identify all activities that are performed between start and stop, together with those who perform the process.

If you are in doubt about how the process is carried out, or want confirmation that you have the correct understanding: "Go to Gemba". "Go to Gemba" means going to where the process is performed.

Keyword for process mapping is "Actual": Go to the actual place, talk to the people who perform the process and map the actual process.  

Ask questions and interview those involved in the process.

You can use brown paper and post-it notes in different colors, or you can use a blackboard.

«Flow Charts should be as simply as possibly, but not simpler» Albert Einstein

Once the process is mapped, it is easier to identify improvements.

Ask questions!

Questions lead to improvements. Challenge established truths and current practice. Continue to ask if you get answers like "We have always done it this way". Remember there are no stupid questions! Here are some examples of questions to ask to identify improvements:

  • What is the purpose of the activity?
  • How do we ensure we achieve this purpose?
  • What can influence the results of an activity?
  • Do we perform inspections or quality controls? Are all controls included?
  • What happens if an inspection or control fail?
  • Are there rework loops?
  • Are any activities performed more than one time?
  • Are there any bottlenecks?
  • How much variation do the process measurements have?

There are many types of process maps. Choose one that fits for your purpose. Here are some examples: 

  • SIPOC (Supplier - Input - Process - Output - Customer) gives an overview of the process to be improved
  • A Spaghetti diagram visualize movement and transportation of people, goods and information
  • Value stream mapping includes process steps and key information related to flow and value adding activities
  • A swim lane map includes the process steps and the responsible role / person of each process
  • Process variable map helps you identify variables that can affect quality

Which process map is the best for your process? 

Lean Tech facilitates process mapping. Contact us if you are interested!

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