In previous articles, we have defined process mapping as a term used to describe any activity involved in identifying what a business is doing, who is responsible for doing it, what standards it is aiming for, and how successes are measured. Keeping this practical definition in mind, the goal in this post is to dig a little deeper; that is, to reveal to you the steps of a guide on how to execute it effectively.
Mapping a step-by-step process consists of designing the flow of your activities. It is a faithful representation of the current situation of the process, which allows, through a previous analysis, to implement necessary improvements to help companies meet their strategic objectives, optimize production, increase profitability, save time and resources, among other benefits.
1. Establish goals.
Within the entire value chain of the company, each process has a specific objective that, when taken into account in all the activities of the organization, contributes to achieving its final goals.
In this sense, we have to understand the function that it fulfills within the process concerning the limits of its activity: what is the reason for its existence?
2. Identify process inputs.
The inputs are all the incoming elements that are modified during the process of adding value to the production chain. They can be physical resources, human resources, or information and data, for example. They can be classified as follows:
- In series: it is the result or the output of a previous system with which the system under study is directly related.
- Random: Represent potential inputs to the system.
- Feedback: inputs that modify the future operation of the system, from the control of the outputs produced within the system.
3. Identify the customers of the process.
Identify customers and their journey in the process. Next, pay attention to the “moments of truth,” which are those interactions with your customers that create a perception of value.
4. Identify the outputs of the process.
The outputs are the deliverables that occur at the end of each process. They add value throughout the production chain, culminating in the company's final product or service.
Many get confused and see outputs as something physical and tangible, like a part of a product. The outputs can be of several types, such as graphs, data, decision making, approvals, among many others.
5. Identify the components of the process.
All the resources used in the process that collaborate in the transformation of inputs into outputs are considered components of the process and can be materials, energy, machinery, human resources, methodologies, technologies, and many others.
6. Identify process providers.
If there are inputs, there is someone in charge of routing them at the beginning of the process. Only then, that person can begin to transform them into outlets. As customers, there are two types of suppliers:
- Internal suppliers: individuals or groups within a company that deliver the inputs or components of a process.
- External suppliers: companies or individuals that supply the organization with supplies, services, and raw materials.
7. Understand the limits of the process.
Boundaries are the extreme points of a process, that is, when it starts and when it ends. The beginning of the process is characterized by the reception of the inputs and its termination occurs with the delivery of the outputs.
It must be taken into account that those involved in the process only begin to have control over it when they receive the inputs and, in the same way, they no longer have control when the outputs are made.
8. Documentation of the process carried out.
To document the processes, one of the recommended ways is the implementation of a flow chart. At this point, all the information collected to date must be documented and analyzed by all those involved, who must agree with what is determined by the work team.
9. Identify and select the improvements that the process needs.
At this stage, to determine the effectiveness of a process mapping, attention must be paid to what works and what does not work in the process, pointing out obstacles, delays, or non-compliance that help to identify those problematic or critical activities that are truly they add value.
Next, you must monitor each improvement applied to a process and evaluate the results over time.
This summary guide brings together the main steps to follow to carry out a process mapping in a complete and specific way. It will allow you to establish and identify the priorities and needs that your company seeks to promote to make your processes more productive and of greater scope for your customers.