Eight Major Steps for Successful Process Mapping

1. Identify major processes.

2. Determine key process for focus.

3. Understand existing key process at lower level of detail.

4. Choose area for focus (quality, cost, or delivery).

5. Find bottlenecks, waste, and defects in existing process.

6. Eliminate delays, waste, and defects.

7. Document the new process.

8. Deploy to organization.

Identify Major Processes The high-level process chart shown in Exhibit 2 is from a nonprofit enterprise. It depicts key business and support processes necessary for the organization to be managed effectively. To create this Business Process diagram, the group performed the following steps:

Exhibit 2. Business Processes

Exhibit 2. Business Processes

1. They brainstormed the processes in the enterprise.

2. They grouped similar processes.

3. They titled process groups by creating a higher level name.

4. They divided the titled groups into those that were considered to be key business processes and those that were considered support to the key processes.

Determine Key Process for Focus This high-level process map is used to prioritize and choose the area for focus and improvement. Ideally, metrics have been created for each process block (e.g., cycle time or quality level expected). The metrics provide actual data and the ability to set and track target levels. The data collected drives the determination of which processes to focus on, by providing a means for selecting the largest gaps between target and actual. Without metrics and actual data, management groups typically choose improvement targets based on qualitative data or by discussion and consensus.

Understand Existing Key Process at Lower Level of Detail If, for example, the management group selects the Leadership Process to focus on, the task now becomes drilling down into the next level of detail for this process. There is now a reason to really understand this process, so one can map the process as shown in the diagram in Exhibit 3, moving to a greater level of detail.

Exhibit 3. Leadership Process

The documentation of the process should describe the major steps in no more than seven to ten blocks on a single page. When more than ten blocks are created, combine some of the blocks and create a higher level block that replaces the three to four blocks that are detailed at a lower level.

For example, for the following steps:

1. Receive pledge forms

2. Sort pledge forms into different methods of payment

3. Summarize totals by method this could be described as one block called "consolidate by method of payment."

Choose Area for Focus (QCD) Once the lowest level of detail process map has been drawn for the existing process, then metrics are created for the process at hand and data is collected to depict actual performance versus target level. Quality, cost, and delivery are typically major categories.

Suppose that for the Leadership Process, the key metrics are:

■ Quality: accuracy of completed pledge forms (measured by percentage of forms without errors in key fields such as name, address, total pledge amount, etc.)

■ The target is 95 percent accuracy and the actual is currently 45 percent to 65 percent.

■ Delivery: Cycle time of Leadership Process (measured by elapsed time from when pledge forms enter process to when pledge data is in database)

■ The target is less than 24 hours and the actual is currently 14 to 36 hours.

There are now two explicit areas from which to choose: decreasing defects (increasing accuracy) or decreasing cycle time — or, perhaps, even both.

Find Bottleneck, Waste, and Defects in Existing Process If the team chooses to focus on one area (e.g., decreasing defects), then barriers inherent in the existing process are explored. The cross-functional team "walks the process" in the detail process maps. As the processes are reviewed in ever-increasing detail, the people on the team gain a greater understanding of how the process currently works and begin to suggest improvements in the way the process should work in the future. A blend of experience and insight is offered by open discussion.

For example, a team member might say, "You mean you don't do anything with the green copy we have been sending to you?" Process changes can be suggested and discussed with managers and employees throughout the enterprise to test the concept of proposed changes.

Document New Process The new process is usually built upon the design of the existing process, replacing major blocks with new ones, dropping redundant steps, consolidating multiple overlapping tasks, and streamlining the process. It is also possible to redesign the total workflow if changing the total process can make significant improvements. The new process maps with detailed steps and metrics become the basis for the new work process.

Deploy to Organization One of the biggest challenges the improvement effort faces is successful deployment of a revised process. If possible, existing methods of training and change management should be utilized if the organization has such methods in place. If there is an existing training mechanism, use it for training employees on the new process tasks.

The deployment package can consist of:

■ Detailed procedures

■ Training courses

■ Handbooks and manuals

■ Computer-aided instruction

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Project Management Made Easy

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