When beginning any process improvement effort – whether it’s a Quick Win, Kaizen, or a more comprehensive Green Belt Project – building the “as is” process map is an essential first step. Teams often find immediate and actionable opportunities for improvement simply by uncovering “the way we do things now.”
The goals of process mapping are to learn and improve. Process mapping involves spending time up front to: decide what and where to map and select “start” and “stop” points accordingly; and conduct a formal “Waste” or Process Walk prior to building the “as is” map. Short, structured interviews with process participants provide a rich source of data, and help uncover flow and process issues. Engaging in interviews also increases external interest in process improvement initiatives, since people appreciate being asked for their input.
There are a few things in the Lean Six Sigma toolkit that should be used on every project, and process mapping is one of them. It’s an unsophisticated tool to which everyone can relate. By mapping the “as is” process, many things happen at once. The team builds their understanding of what really goes on in a process, they invest in team dynamics by creating it together, they immediately uncover pain points and Quick Wins, and they build engagement as the rest of the organization becomes curious about the map and what the team is trying to achieve.
Process maps are more accurate and powerful when they include cycle times and wait times. Value Stream Maps are designed to include these two elements of lead time, but including this data on any map helps to reflect what truly gets in the way of meeting customer demand.
Working through mapping techniques from high level SIPOCs to detailed swim lane process maps, is a complete learning experience for anyone interested in understanding and improving their processes. QSG’s approach Business Process Mapping is ideal for anyone who needs to understand the various process mapping techniques. We clearly explain each approach so you can pick the best level for your needs.