As a visual depiction of an organization's work flow, process maps delineate the steps within the work flow. By analyzing the detailed flow, it is possible to identify areas that need improvements. In a nutshell, process maps enhance production and business efficiencies.
It’s a wise idea to involve employees at every level and from every department when creating a process map or flow chart. By doing so, you gain valuable input that you might otherwise miss and give employees a chance to take ownership of the process. With their input, your chance for success improves. Additionally, involving employees becomes a morale booster.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Creating a process map can be an intricate and time-consuming project, but it becomes a valuable tool when complete. Because it is visual, the process map is easier to comprehend and follow than written procedures. Besides, it would take far longer to write all the steps and procedures that are readily communicated on the flow chart. In effect, you save time and end up with a more useful document.
Process maps make inefficiencies in the work flow readily obvious. Often, those inefficiencies come to light before you've even completed the map. By creating and tracking paths on the flow chart, you can see where problems and delays occur. Moreover, creating maps forces you to break processes into smaller components. Doing that makes it easier to clearly identify problems, the first critical step toward solving them.
You and your team will clearly see the most important steps as you create the process map. It allows you to focus improvements and corrections on critical areas . . . areas that have the most impact on your efficiency and quality. Once you’ve mapped the process you will be able to see steps that can be combined, eliminated or automated. Sometimes, you gain efficiency simply by rearranging steps--developing the process map aids in that visualization.
The Big Picture
Taking the time to map a process shows the big picture both to you and your team. Employee “A” may have no idea what happens downstream in the production line or how his work affects others later in the process or the end product. Working on the process map team clarifies this information. Additionally, someone who’s never seen a visualization of her part of the overall process may have clearer ideas on improving it. When team members can question each other about why something is done in a particular way, improvements often follow.
The ultimate benefits of process mapping are the keys to any successful organization. The mapping exercise helps identify best practices within the organization. Once they’re identified they can be repeated in other departments for added success. The process map also facilitates training new employees. It is a snapshot of how things work in your organization and is a great reference tool. Quality and efficiency always increase when you map a process, and it sets the stage for you to launch into more extensive management programs like Lean Six Sigma.