Process Mapping: Best ROI for Improvement Initiative(Part 1)

Process mapping is to demonstrate visually all the actions and decisions in a process. It shows all the flow of materials, information, and display the tasks performed related to the process. It will show the relationship and dependency on each step.

The act of flowcharting to improve a process was first introduced in 1921 by Frank Gilbreth to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Since then it has become the pivotal part of any management project and improvement initiative.


The mapping process involved everyone: worker, suppliers, customers, supervisors, basically everyone that has any involvement in the process should be considered. A good preparation in process mapping will identify bottlenecks, unnecessary waste, and any rework in the process. Once all of those have been identified, an improvement project with a deadline can be initiated.

Steps in creating process map

  1.             Identify the problem.
    What are the current challenges that we are facing.
    This should be put as the title at the top of the document.

  2.             Brainstorm all the activities that will be involved.
    Sequencing the steps isn’t important as much as jotting down all the task and possibilities in the process, but it may help you to remember the pre-requisite of each task. Determine who does what and when it is done.

  3.             Figure out boundaries.
    Bookend the beginning and ending. Decide when and where the process starts and the point of where it stops.

  4.             Determine the sequence of steps.
    It’s helpful to have a verb begin the description. You can show either general flow or every detail action or decision.

  5.             Draw the basic flowchart.
    Each element in the process map is symbolized by a standard convention, which together represent a process map  that can be understood by any related participant.
    Ovals: Show the start and end of the process.
    Rectangles: Represent operation or activity.
    Arrows: Represent the direction of the flow.
    Diamonds: Shows the point where decisions must be made, or plural possible outputs are produced.
    Parallelograms: Show input and output in the process.

  6.             Finalize the process flowchart
    Review the flowchart with stakeholders to make sure everyone is in agreement.
    Make sure you have included important chart information like title, date, and in some area, it’s ok to put in commentary and reference. Remember your goal is to make your map understandable.

  7.             Identify Improvement Opportunity
    If you’ve established your current state map, it might be a good idea to create an ideal process map where you are heading to. This will improve your understanding of the improvement needed and the scope of such project. Ideally, at the end, you should have a map of the current state with an improvement opportunity charted along with sprints and deadline for each improvement.

Process map provides valuable insights into how a business or an organization can improve processes. When important information is presented visually, it increases understanding and collaboration for any project. It is an easy method to get everybody looking at the same big picture and work towards the same goal.

Nowaday, process mapping is a rudimentary skill expected as an engineer.

In the next blog, we will discuss about what to look for in a process map furthermore spotting which area can be worked on that will give the best return of investment.


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