Process Mapping

A process map is a planning and management tool that visually describes the flow of work. Using process mapping software, process maps show a series of events that produce an end result.

What is it?

A visual display that includes:

  • Where a process starts and ends
  • The sequence of steps in between the start and end of the process in the order that they happen
  • Yes / no decision point in a process
  • Arrows that connect the steps and decision points in a process and show the sequence they happen in
  • Process maps can be used at different levels from a high level less detailed map to a more detailed process map that breaks down bigger steps into smaller chunks depending on the level of analysis required
What does this tool look like?
Process map example

Process map example - Making a cup of Tea

Why use this tool?
  • To capture and visually represent all the steps in an existing process
  • To show everyone in a team how a process works in practice now, rather than what they think is happening
  • To help identify change ideas for improvement
  • To visually represent a new process
  • To assist team building as it should involve all team members in accurately capturing current process and the design of any new process

 

Where does this tool fit in the improvement journey?
Where tool fits in improvement journey
How to use it.

Process Mapping works best as a group exercise.

Tips for Facilitation:

  • Bring together all the people who know how the process works now
  • Ask the group to agree the first and last steps in the process so everyone is clear what process they are working on. Conventionally first and last steps are represented in an oval shape
  • Ask the group to identify all the tasks and decision points in the process. Write them on post it notes and stick each task and decision point on a wall in the order it happens now; writing on post it notes allows the steps / decisions to be moved around if needed. Conventionally tasks are represented in a rectangle and decision points in a diamond shape
  • All group members should review the process map to ensure it is correct and complete
  • Process maps can be used at different levels from a high level less detailed map to a more detailed process map that breaks down bigger steps into smaller chunks depending on the level of analysis required
  • Analyse the completed map taking account of value adding steps agreed by the group to identify any steps or decision points where improvements could be made. For example, steps where there is unnecessary work, duplication, bottlenecks, delays etc

Use outputs from process mapping to aid system understanding to help develop your change

Symbols to help create your own process map