Process Mapping

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Introduction to DMAIC Measure Phase


Following the completion of the Define phase of DMAIC where we have set out the project definition in a number of ways, the next phase is the Measure phase. The Measure phase of DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) is a critical step in the Six Sigma process improvement methodology. This phase is focused on understanding the current process and identifying areas for improvement.

The first component in the Measure phase is process mapping, which is a crucial tool for visualising and understanding how a process operates. Process mapping allows you to identify the process flow, inputs and outputs, and the many steps involved. This allows you to understand where potential issues could occur and highlight locations where data should be collected.

The next step in the Measure phase is data collection, which entails acquiring important information about the process under investigation. This information can be gathered from a variety of sources, including customer complaints, internal reports, and process measurements. It is critical that the data gathered is correct, relevant, and sufficient to comprehend the process.

Basic statistics are also an important component of the Measure phase. It is used to examine collected data and detect patterns and trends. Understanding fundamental statistical concepts and procedures like mean, median, mode, standard deviation, and distributions is critical for assessing process performance.

Finally, the Basic measurement systems evaluation (MSE) is performed to determine the accuracy, stability, and consistency of the data gathering process. MSE will assist in identifying the sources of measurement error and ensuring that data is reliable and usable for decision making.

In short, the Measure phase is all about identifying opportunities for improvement and understanding the present process. Process mapping, data collecting, basic statistics, and basic MSE are all important tools in this phase, and they all work together to create a thorough picture of the process under investigation. The process mapping provides an overall picture of the process, while data gathering gathers detailed information and statistical analysis, and MSE ensures the data is valid and correct for decision making.


Introduction to Process Mapping

What is Process mapping?

Process mapping is a visual depiction of a process that is used to understand and document the process’s many steps, inputs, and outputs. It is a graphical representation that is usually constructed in the form of a flowchart and is also known as a process map.

Process mapping is used to acquire a thorough understanding of how a process operates and where it might be improved. It is easier to detect bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and other areas that may be causing delays or faults in the process by developing a visual depiction of it. This can assist firms in reengineering their processes to improve their efficiency and effectiveness.

Process mapping is also useful for communication and documentation. It can be used to explain the process to others, such as employees, customers, and suppliers, as well as to provide a set of instructions for carrying it out. This contributes to process consistency and quality, and it can also be used to assure compliance with industry norms and standards.

Process maps also enable the identification and evaluation of process performance by evaluating critical indicators like as cycle time, defects, costs, and customer satisfaction. Identifying these metrics allows for the identification of process flaws.

Manufacturing, healthcare, service sectors, software development, logistics and supply chain, and many more industries and applications can benefit from process mapping. Flowcharts, swimlane diagrams, and value stream maps are examples of process maps that can be utilised based on the industry and the unique process.

In brief, process mapping is a useful technique for understanding and improving processes by providing a clear visual picture of the process and finding areas for improvement, evaluating process performance, and guaranteeing consistency and quality. It enables firms to identify and resolve process issues, making it a valuable tool for boosting efficiency, productivity, and quality.


What are the different types of process maps?

Process maps are classified into different categories, including:

Flowchart (Basic Process Map): A flowchart is a simple diagram that shows the flow of a process using objects such as rectangles and arrows. It is frequently used to document simple procedures that follow a logical sequence.

Basic flow chart or Process map

Swimlane diagram: A swimlane diagram is similar to a flowchart but it also shows the different roles and responsibilities of the people involved in the process. It is very helpful in determining who does what and when in a process.

Swimlane cross functional process map

Value stream map: A value stream map is used to understand the flow of materials and information in a process from beginning to end. It is very beneficial for identifying process bottlenecks and inefficiencies.

Value Stream Map (VSM)

SIPOC: The SIPOC (Supplier, Input, Process, Output and Customer) method is also often considered a type of process map as it maps out the process at a high level. However, we have covered that in more detail previously, to refresh you can view it here.

Example of complete SIPOC

As this is a Lean Six Sigma Yellow belt course we will focus on the basic process map as the other types of process maps are covered in the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt course. However, it is useful to be aware of them for reference.

Why is Process Mapping important

Process mapping is significant for a variety of reasons, including:

Improved process understanding: Process mapping provides a visual depiction of the process, making it easier to grasp how it works and where possible issues may arise. This can assist firms in identifying areas for development and creating more efficient procedures.

Increased efficiency: Organizations can discover bottlenecks and inefficiencies that are generating delays or errors by understanding how a process operates. Process mapping can assist firms in removing these issues, resulting in a more efficient process.

Improved communication: Process mapping can be used to communicate the process to others, including employees, managers, and customers. This can assist in ensuring that everyone is on the same page and that the procedure is carried out correctly.

Improved decision-making: Process mapping can be used to examine data and metrics, providing useful insights into how the process is working. This can assist companies in making more informed judgements regarding how to improve the process.

Compliance and quality: Process maps can help ensure that processes are in compliance with industry regulations, standards, and best practises. A process map can also help verify that a process is consistent and repeatable, which can help enhance quality.

Continuous improvement: Process mapping is a key part of many process improvement methodologies like Six Sigma, Lean, and TQM.

In conclusion, process mapping is a useful method for understanding how a process works, identifying areas for improvement, enhancing communication, making better decisions, and attaining continuous improvement. It assists organisations in focusing on what is truly important and eliminating waste.


When to use different types of process mapping?

Different types of process maps are utilised depending on the organization’s specific objectives and goals, as well as the features of the process being mapped. Here are some examples of how various types of process maps might be used:

Flowchart (Basic Process Map): The most basic and extensively used type of process map is the flowchart. They illustrate the process flow visually, including the steps, inputs, and outcomes. Flowcharts are excellent for documenting simple processes and illustrating how a process operates.

Swimlane diagrams: A form of flowchart that is used to group process phases by role or department. These diagrams are important for understanding who performs what and when in a process, as well as identifying locations where different roles or departments may be creating delays or problems.

Value stream maps: Value stream maps are a type of process map that are used to understand the flow of materials and information in a process, including the sources of delay and waste. These diagrams can assist firms in improving material and information flow, reducing delays and defects, and increasing production and efficiency.

SIPOC diagrams: SIPOC diagrams are a sort of process map used to comprehend a process’s inputs, outputs, suppliers, and customers. They are valuable for identifying places where conflicts with suppliers or customers may have an impact on the process, as well as for understanding the relationships between different elements of the process.

It is crucial to note that these are not the only sorts of process maps; other types of diagrams may also be utilised depending on the organization’s specific needs and goals. Furthermore, distinct industries may have their own set of diagrams or notations. The most crucial thing to consider when selecting a process map is which one best communicates the process and enables for the identification of areas for improvement.


Process Mapping Basics

Key elements of a basic process map

In this section, we’ll look at some of the key shapes used in process mapping, such as the terminator shape, which represents the beginning and end of a process, the activity shape, which represents a process step or task, the decision point shape, which represents a point in the process where a decision must be made, and the connector shape, which represents the process flow and connects different process steps together. We will also go over how these shapes are utilised in various sorts of process maps and how they may be used to improve the process by making it more clear, succinct, and easy to grasp.

Process: A process can be defined as a series of actions or tasks carried out in a precise order to accomplish a desired result. These actions or duties might be simple or complex, involving a single individual or a group of people.

High level Proces Map

Terminator Shape

Terminator: In a process map, the terminator shape is an oval or rounded rectangle that indicates the start and end of a process. It is both the starting and ending point of the process flow.

The terminator shape is used to distinguish between the beginning and end of a procedure. The oval shape is labelled “Start” or “Begin” or “Input” or anything similar at the start of the procedure to show where the process begins. The oval shape is labelled “End” or “Finish” or “Output” or something similar at the end of the operation to show where the procedure ends.

This shape helps in the creation of a clear picture of the process, and when combined with the flowchart and other shapes, it can aid in the creation of a visual depiction of how the process works. The beginning and finish of the process are shown, as well as the scope and bounds of the process.

It is also essential for understanding and communicating the process; especially when used as a teaching tool, it is critical to have a clear indication of where the process begins and concludes. This form is commonly used in process maps such as flowcharts, swimlane diagrams, and value stream maps.

Activity Shape

Activity: In a process map, the activity shape is a rectangular shape that represents a process step or an action or task that is performed as part of the process. Because it can represent a wide range of process steps, the activity shape is the most widely used shape in process mapping.

The activity shape is used to produce a visual depiction of the process, and it can serve to generate a visual representation of how the process works when combined with the flowchart and other shapes. It is identified with a verb phrase that represents the activity occurring at that point in the process.

to show the sequence of steps. It also aids in the identification of each activity’s inputs, outputs, and decision points. This shape is required to make the procedure clear, brief, and simple to understand.

The activity shape can be found in a variety of process maps, including flowcharts, swimlane diagrams, and value stream maps. This form is commonly used in process maps for training, improvement programmes like as Six Sigma and Lean, and documentation. It helps to make the process clear, concise, and easily understandable.

Decision Shape

Decision point: In a process map, the decision point shape is a diamond that represents a point in the process where a decision must be made. It is used to represent a branch in the process flow where alternative paths or options can be selected based on the outcome of a decision.

Typically, the decision point shape is labelled with a question or a condition that must be considered in order to reach the decision. “Is the product defective?” for example. or “Is this order complete?” . Based on the outcome of the decision, the decision shape is connected to other shapes such as rectangles or arrows that signify the next phase in the process.

The decision point shape can be used to identify potential process difficulties and to re-engineer the process. It aids in the process’s simplification by eliminating superfluous processes and streamlining the process flow.

It is commonly used in a variety of process maps, including flowcharts, swimlane diagrams, and value stream maps. It is especially effective when conditional logic is involved, or when a process has numerous alternative outcomes or courses that it can take.

ConnectorConnector: In a process map, a connector shape is an arrow that is used to indicate the flow of the process and connect multiple process steps together. It is used to identify the sequence of steps in the process as well as the flow direction. The connector shape can be used to connect any process shape, including rectangles, diamonds, and ovals.

The arrow connection can be used to depict the movement of information, materials, and people throughout a process. It can also be used to represent parallel flows, loops, and subprocesses. The connector form is used to produce a visual picture of the process and, when combined with other shapes, it can aid in the creation of a visual depiction of how the process works.

It is an important component of process mapping since it helps you to trace the flow of the process and understand the dependencies between distinct steps. It clarifies and simplifies the process, and it aids in identifying areas for improvement and communicating the method to others.


Mapping the process

How to create a basic process map?

Creating a basic process map is a simple procedure that may be accomplished with flowcharting software or even pen and paper. The following are the typical procedures for developing a basic process map.

Define the process scope: Before generating the diagram, define the process boundaries by determining the start and finish points, as well as which activities and tasks are included and excluded from the diagram.

Gather data: Collect information on the process by speaking with those involved in it, witnessing it, and evaluating any existing documentation or protocols.

Identify the process steps: Using the information received, identify all of the steps involved in the process in the order they occur.

Create the diagram: Create a visual depiction of the process by linking the process phases with arrows to illustrate the flow using flowcharting software or pen and paper. Shapes such as rectangles can be used to indicate process phases, diamonds can be used to represent decision points, ovals can be used to represent the start and finish of the process, and flow lines or arrowheads can be used to depict the flow direction.

Label the diagram: Label the shapes to define the process phases, inputs, and outputs clearly. Use notes or comments to describe any aspects that are critical to understanding.

Review and validate: Examine the process flow diagram with those involved in the process to confirm that it accurately depicts the process. Make any necessary adjustments and revisions.

After the diagram has been constructed and validated, it can be used to identify areas for improvement, convey the process to others, and evaluate process performance.

Use it for analysis: After the diagram is completed and validated, it can be used to identify areas for improvement, communicate the process to others, and evaluate the process performance.

Use it to document and communicate: The process flow diagram can also be used as a tool for documentation and communication. It can be used to provide new employees with an overview of the process, teach staff on the process, and act as a reference for employees who are already familiar with the process. It can also be used to convey the process to stakeholders and management, document the process for compliance and audit purposes, and demonstrate how the process fits into the organization’s overall operations.

It’s critical to remember that designing a process flow diagram is an iterative process, and the diagram may need to be reviewed and revised as the process evolves. Additionally, when constructing the process flow diagram, strive to make it basic while still providing enough detail to effectively express the process flow and crucial information.



Methods of creating Process Maps

Creating process maps with software such as Microsoft Visio or other flowcharting software can be a useful option for creating detailed, professional-looking process maps. These software applications typically provide a number of built-in shapes and symbols that can make building the map simple and quick. Furthermore, the software allows you to save the map in a variety of file formats, making it simple to share and collaborate on the map with others.

Helpful Tip: If you were looking to create a Value Stream Map (VSM) But only have Visio Standard and No Visio Professional or Premium, you can download a VSM template here: Link

 visio diagram menu LeanLeanSigma

On the other hand, creating a process map using brown paper and sticky notes can also be a useful option, particularly when brainstorming and working through the process flow. This strategy is excellent for rapidly and efficiently mapping out process steps and making modifications as needed. Furthermore, employing sticky notes provides for a great degree of flexibility and can stimulate collaboration because a team can work on the same map at the same time.

Postit note Process Map LearnLeanSigma

Finally, which approach to choose will be determined by the specific process and the demands of the team. Both sorts of process maps can be beneficial in different scenarios and can be used in tandem; for example, you can construct a map on software and then use sticky notes to organise it.


Tips and best practice for creating effective process maps

There are a few things to bear in mind when creating a process map to ensure that it is clear, accurate, and valuable for improving the process. Here are a few pointers to think about:

Keep it simple: Use simple and standard notation, reduce superfluous features, and keep the map layout clear and consistent. This makes the map easier to read and comprehend.

Focus on the process: When developing the map, keep the process in mind rather than the people or organisations involved. Utilize a high-level view of the process to see the broad picture.

Get input from those who perform the process: People who are directly involved in the process should be involved in gathering information and reviewing the map. This will assist to guarantee that the map is up to date and accurately reflects the current state of the procedure.

Use it as a tool for communication: Use the process map to communicate with others, such as employees, stakeholders, and management. This will help to ensure that everyone understands the procedure.

Improve continuously: Use the map as a tool for continuous improvement, reviewing it on a regular basis and updating it as the process changes. Use it to discover areas for improvement, track progress, and measure performance.

Use the right type of map: The type of process map you use will depend on the specific process and the information you need to represent. Use the appropriate map for the project; different sorts of maps will assist you in focusing on different areas of the process.

Remember the rules: Learn about industry standards, such as flowchart symbols.

What's Next?

Now that you have an understanding of the first step of the DMAIC measure phase of mapping out the process, the next step is to look at identifying waste in the process and value add analysis.