Have you ever wanted to simplify a process, but you didn’t know where to begin? In this video, Steven describes the basic elements of process mapping and explains the importance of understanding a process by first drawing a picture. You are invited to select a process and map the steps.
- Have you ever wanted to simplify a process, but didn't know where to begin? You know this process can be improved, but you're not sure exactly where. Or perhaps someone is trying to describe a process to you, and you just don't get it. If you want to understand a process, it's a good idea to start by drawing a picture. This is called a process map and it's the first step in business process improvement. A process map identifies the sequence of activities in that process, or the flow of materials, or the flow of information within the process.
Drawing a process diagram forces you to focus on the boundaries of the process. Where does it start? Where does it end? What activities are included in the process, and equally important, what is not part of the process? I realize this may sound rather simplistic, but these answers are critical to your success in understanding the process. There are two basic components of a process. First, there are tasks, which are the specific jobs that when sequenced correctly, create the final output of the process.
And second, there are activities, which are a group of tasks that create some intermediate output. When drawing a process map, there are five basic symbols you need to know. When you put these together in the proper sequence, you have a detailed explanation of your process. First is an oval, which tells you the starting point and the ending point of the process. Second, a rectangle, which denotes a specific task or activity that contributes to the process. Third is a triangle, which indicates waiting.
As we all know, just about every process has some waiting time. Whether it's material waiting for an available machine in the factory or a truck waiting to be loaded at the warehouse or a customer waiting in the drive-through line at McDonald's. There's always some waiting time, it seems. Fourth is a diamond, which denotes a decision point. Based on the decision, the process will continue in one direction or another. And last is an arrow, which indicates the direction of travel or flow.
So, a very basic process map, one that is drawn at the macro level, would look something like this. This simple diagram could be a high-level map of the process used when getting a haircut or having the oil changed in your car. A map of the haircut process would look like this. And that's an important point I want you to remember. Start with a large-scale map and then fill in the details as required to produce the exact process map you need.
This simple approach keeps you from getting bogged down in too many details at the beginning. Start simple and then dig deeper. With a map of the process, you are now ready to understand and to improve your process. And that's what process mapping is all about. You want to understand your process in sufficient detail, which allows you to find areas for possible improvement. Try this out. Pick a process from your work that you're interested in or you want to understand better or you want to improve.
Or maybe a process from your personal life or your home life that you think could be done better. Draw a picture using these basic symbols and components, then use your diagram to explain the process to someone else. Someone who's not already familiar with the process. I'm sure you'll agree, that if you want to understand a process, start by drawing a picture.
Lean concepts have been successfully applied to every aspect of doing business. In this course, learn the principles of lean and how they are used in processes, production, and services. Instructor Steven Brown also explains how lean thinking impacts the organization, from the overall business culture to day-to-day work activities.
- What is lean?
- Process mapping and reengineering
- Cost and constraints
- Lean manufacturing
- Lean services
- Lean culture
- Lean thinking