What are the commonly used types of process mapping?

Top 3 methods for process mapping

Flowchart is the basic way of designing any process map. There are three basic types of flowcharts. These are:

1. Top-down Flowcharts

It is the simplest form of a flowchart. It shows what the major clusters of activities are - the ones that are essential for any process. It also shows what a process will eventually look like without the steps that have accumulated over time to shore up an inefficient or faulty process. The top-down flowchart can be used for planning new processes as well as examining existing ones. It helps keep people focused on the whole process instead of getting lost in details. Details can be worked out by the team members responsible for that part of the process.

How can I create a Top-down Flowchart?

  • Step 1 - List the most basic steps of the process. Limit these to no more than five or six major steps.
  • Step 2 - Write the major steps across the top of a board, flipchart or piece of paper in the order that they occur in the process.
  • Step 3 - Under each major step, list the sub-steps that make up that element of the process. List them in the order that they occur.
  • Again, limit yourself to no more than five or six sub-steps for each major step.

Let’s help you lay out the steps in the above picture.

In Step 1, we list out the basic steps in the process. The basic steps are Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control.

In Step 2, we know that the basic steps are also our major steps. Therefore, we present them across the board in separate boxes.

In Step 3, we list out the sub-steps that occur in DMAIC process. For example, in the Define part of the process we have listed out the following steps:

  • Voice of Customer
  • Voice of Business
  • Voice of Process
  • Order Reports

What should I do with the steps that I have created?

The picture you have created will show only the useful work that goes into the process.

• Compare this to the way things are actually done. Ask, “What can be done to eliminate unnecessary work?”

• Talk to your customers. Ask, “How can we improve the process to better please the people who receive our work?”

• Look at the essential process. Ask, “How can we change the process to make fewer errors and increase our speed of delivery?”

2. Deployment Flowchart

While the top-down flowchart tells what a process will look like, the deployment chart shows both what and who the process involves. It shows how the people involved fit together. It helps to keep track of what each person or organization is supposed to do. The deployment chart can be as simple (just major steps) or as involved (sub-steps and sub-sub-steps) as you need to make it.

How can I create a Deployment Flowchart?

  • Step 1: List the major steps of the process in the order in which they occur. This might be the output of your work with a top-down flowchart or you might use some other technique to create this list.
  • Step 2: Across the top of your board on a flipchart or paper write the names of the people or organizations involved in the process.
  • Step 3: Under the name of the person or organization responsible in the first step of the process, draw a box and write that step in the box. If more than one person or group is responsible for a step, extend the box so it is also under the name of that person or group.
  • Step 4: If any of the other people or groups help or advise the ones with primary responsibility for that step, draw an oval under the names of those people or groups.
  • Step 5: Connect the ovals to the box with the process step in it.
  • Step 6: After the first step is complete, put the second step under the people responsible for it.
  • Step 7: Connect the first step to the second step, and then add ovals for any helpers or advisors in the second process step. Keep going this way with all the steps in the process.

Let’s help you lay out the steps in the above picture.

In Step 1, we need to list out the major steps that would be included in the process. In the above picture those major steps will be:

  • Events Reported
  • Data Received
  • Isolated Problem
  • Form Teams and Establish Priority
  • Action Required
  • Action Plan
  • Control Plan
  • Preliminary Investigation
  • Investigation Plan
  • Establish Priority & Funding
  • Analysis and Improvement

In Step 2, we need to list out the names of the people or organization who would be involved in the process. In this case it would be:

  • Customer
  • Product Spt. Engineering
  • Design Engineering
  • Model Engineering
  • Others

In Step 3, the first step of the process belongs under the customer which is “Events Reported”. This has been placed inside the box. The first step also includes “Data Received” that belongs under the Product Spt. Engineering. The two steps have been connected showing clarity in the process.

In Step 4, we need to state the other people or group that will help or advise in the first step of the process and draw an oval under those names or groups. In our case, we do not have any other party helping or advise in our first step. Hence, no oval shape has been shown.

In Step 5, for the Isolate Problem section, an oval has been drawn under the “Other” party. Hence, it has been connected with the process step which is “Isolated Problem”.

In Step 6, the second process step in the diagram is “Isolated Problem” that is placed under “Product Spt. Engineering” group as they are responsible for it.

In Step 7, show the connection of the first & second step by adding the appropriate symbols. The entire process is thus created in this way.

What should I do with the steps that I have created?

The completed chart tells not only how the process operates at each step, but who is involved and what responsibility they each have. Ask the following:

  • Are the right people involved at the right time in the process?
  • Are there too many people involved or too many hand-offs?
  • Are there barriers between people who must work together to make the process work?

3. Detailed Flowchart

Generally top-down and deployment charts are enough to examine a process, but sometimes teams need more detail to see where the problems are occurring. It helps to show what actually happens at each step in the process in detail, what happens when non-standard events occur, and graphically displays processes so one can easily see redundancies and other wasted efforts. A detailed flowchart can be a powerful tool for examining a process that has built up needless complexity, but creating all this detail is time-consuming.

How can I create a Detailed Flowchart?

To construct a detailed flowchart, various symbols can be used to represent process steps. Here are the symbols often used in a detailed flowchart.

Each symbol should represent only one action or one yes-no decision. This is what gives the detailed flowchart its detail. It is also what makes the creation of detailed flowcharts so time consuming. 

For creating a Detailed Flowchart

  • Step 1: Draw the first symbol, and then write a description of the process step inside the symbol.
  • Step 2: Draw the second symbol. Write the description. Connect the two symbols with an arrow showing the direction of flow.
  • Step 3: Continue this way until you have completed the process or the part of the process you wanted to examine.

Let’s help you lay out the steps in the above picture.

The Step 1 requires us to draw the first symbol which is a rectangle that depicts measurement. The next step is to draw the second symbol and write the particular description in it. The two points are then connected to show the direction of flow. The entire flowchart has been made following the necessary symbols, as shown earlier.

What should I do with the steps that I have created?

Look at your completed flowchart and ask:

  • Where are the redundancies that could be eliminated?
  • Where are the steps that seem out of order?
  • What steps are missing that could improve the process?
  • Where is time lost waiting or sending things back and forth?
  • What steps add no value to the customer?