Monday, 10 October 2016

Post-it notes and process maps

I am acutely aware that one of the main takeaways people get from participating in our projects and workshops is a clear memory of lots of post-it notes and a process map. There continues to be demand from within the university for process mapping training and support, which I welcome.

The process map is a visual way of helping people unpick and agree what is happening from end to end. It is a fantastic way of seeing how complicated a process currently is and helps identify the number of rework/ failure points. However, I think that it is important for people who want to use process maps to remember that they are just a tool to help us understand process. Albeit an approach we use regularly. 

There is a multitude of other ways of identifying problems within a process: root cause analysis, identifying where batching happens, identifying bottlenecks etc.

Sometimes, all that is needed is a very high-level process map (five to ten steps) so that we can be clear about the value stream (how the service or product is delivered to the customer). A couple of other favourites are:

·      A drop down flow chart  - this can be so helpful in a service environment to make sure that a standard operating procedure is followed (and often much easier to follow than a lengthy process map).

·      A spaghetti diagram to map the routes customers and workers follow, this often helps us to see the process from different people’s perspectives and quickly identify improvements.

I am really pleased that more and more people that I work with are interested in process and are starting to think about the end-to-end process, but before we go to the brown paper and post-it notes think about whether there is a more efficient and effective way to achieve our requirements.

I’d be interested in hearing from others about inventive ways they have used to identify process problems and create improved ways of working.

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