What is it?

High level process mapping is a tool used to identify the most significant steps of a process. Everything we do is a process. A process is a series of inputs and outputs, where the final deliverable (or output) creates value for the customer. The goal is to connect suppliers and their inputs with the process, and the process to the intended customer outputs.

Here are a few tools that help us do this,

  • SIPOC (or COPIS) Supplier – Input – Process – Output – Customer: Identify who is the Supplier and what they’re inputting into the process. Contains a summary of the process and what it delivers(Output) to the Customer.
  • Value Stream Map: Map of required tasks to complete the process or deliver the product. Helps to identify the non-value added steps in a process.
  • Flow Diagram: Shows how a team or process interacts. Identifies what each member should be doing and when it should be done in comparison to other tasks.
  • Time Charting: Helps identify “valueless” time or waste in a process.

Why Do We Care?

Process maps makes it easy for the project lead and team to communicate aspects of the challenge being working. Additionally, it visually communicate process steps to members not on the team. With a mapped process, distributing roles and responsibilities to your team become much easier to communicate.

Each type of process map may deliver different value, and it is up to you to determine which tool to deploy to best map your problem. But don’t get too anxious, these take very little investment to create and will only increase your understanding of the problem.

Helpful Tips

  • In Lean, you’re encouraged to “Go to the Gemba”, or where the action is happening. Don’t just create a process map from memory, go to where the process is taking place and write down EVERYTHING.
  • Start with the end customer first. Determine: what they need. Why they need it. What they do with it. Who they get it from. And how they get it. (May also be useful to ask how they prefer to get it). Do with each step in the process and log the answers to each of these questions


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