Monday, 22 January 2018

Standardising our institutional process maps

Over the past twelve months or so I’ve been delighted to see the results of a great deal of independent process mapping activity that’s been happening across the university. In my opinion, this is an artefact that demonstrates people are starting to think about how work happens as a process.

During a discussion in the Process Improvement Unit (PIU) where we celebrated this step change in mapping activity, we also identified number of concerns, these included:
·      variable quality of maps;
·      use of a number of different tools for mapping;
·      variance in the use of mapping symbols;
·      process mapping in isolation;
·      people unclear why/ for what purpose they were process mapping;
·      Lack of understanding of levels of process mapping. Leading to people taking time to unnecessarily produce detailed maps.

The following discussion was two-fold:
 1)    whether or not our concerns required any intervention. Does it really matter about the lack of clarity and variation? Certainly, from strategic point of view it is not a priority, however if the outputs of a mapping event can’t easily be shared or people are taking too much time on mapping it is something we could help with and it’s certainly within PIU’s remit to help;
2)    What is the Cause and Countermeasure for this problem? Cause – lack of guidance, with the countermeasure being the obverse –    produce some guidance.

It was agreed that PIU would proceed with producing the guidance. Over the past few months in consultation with other experts I’ve been creating the guide. The process for creating the guide was:
1.     Identify the Users and their requirements. We identified to key groups
a.     Subject Matter Experts who need a little bit of support on the basics of process mapping - symbols, purpose and levels of mapping.
b.     Process Experts E.g. Business Analyst, Process Improvement Experts who are undertaking mapping for large projects or cross-functional activities who need guidance on standard and “The University of Sheffield Approach to Process Mapping” – symbols, formatting and adherence to standardisation.
2.     Lots of research and consultation
3.     Sign-off

Using the 80:20 rule, the guidance is approximately 80% complete, initially it will be circulated as a simple slide set. Future steps will include working with Print and Design Experts to make the guide look a little more “polished” and creation of a short film to help with socialisation of the guide.

I suspect that there will still be a place for the training and coaching we offer in this area, but it is anticipated that the time we spend with staff can focus on value adding activities and the standard information set will be either preliminary reading/viewing and subsequently a reference tool.

How will I measure success of the guide?
·      Number of times it is downloaded.
·      Feedback/ satisfaction.
·      Most importantly I want to measure usefulness and how often it is used.


  1. Would love to know how you have managed to roll this out across the whole University. I want to try to encourage departments to map their current processes to aid with future improvements and as use in their departmental process training but buy in doesn't seem to be wide spread.

    1. Hi Stu, it's still fragmented, but we are gaining traction. Stay strong