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Map to the Clouds
Online process maps increase efficiency, communication
by Rashi Arora and Aizad Ahmad
An organization’s success heavily depends on how it manages and plans projects. Casually managed projects often lead to lost opportunities and bad results.1 This is why process maps are important tools that help organizations become more efficient. They use visual diagrams to show every process in an easy-to-understand format.
Creating a process map
To create a comprehensive process map, you must follow five steps:
- Identify a process to map.
- Work with the project sponsor to understand the business objectives, risks and controls.
- Interview people involved in the process to get their point of view (gather information). Write up the process in simple steps.
- Design the process maps.
- Analyze the process for areas or steps that can be made more effective and efficient, and offer suggestions for improvement.
Process maps can now be stored in a digital cloud or app for easier collaboration, reviewing, sharing and communication with stakeholders. This eliminates the risk of losing the file if your computer crashes. It also allows teams to work faster by instantly accessing files online without the hassle of attaching a file to an email or needing software to open it.
These process maps also can be viewed as people are editing them, and they can be created without complicated software. You can update maps while you interview people and gather information about process steps. Some apps even allow maps to be animated, which can be especially helpful in keeping clients engaged (and awake) during presentations.
These features offer your organization several benefits:
- Improved processes for your clients and quality department.
- Better standard compliance (such as ISO 9001:2015) because elements of maps can be integrated with one another.
- Support and understanding of end-to-end processes.
- More department interaction.
- More immediate feedback through online communication, eliminating the need for meetings.
Mapping a service
Process maps are easy to create in the manufacturing industry because they deal with tangible products. Because a service can be difficult to visualize, process maps are integral to this industry’s process improvements efforts.
For example, an improvement team at a bank used a process map as an effective communication tool (see Figure 1).2 It ensured team members reviewed the process in a consistent manner and allowed the bank’s leadership to see what the team was working on.
After improvements are implemented, a process map shows how the changes affect a service by seeing improved process flow and reductions in the time it takes to complete tasks.
- H.F. Ken Machado, "Plan of Attack," Quality Progress, May 2014, pp. 32-37.
- Fu-Kwun Wang and Kao-Shan Chen, "Applying Lean Six Sigma and TRIZ Methodology in Banking Services," Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, Vol. 21, No. 3, March 2010, pp. 301-315.
Aizad Ahmad is a manager of operating model design at Scotiabank in Toronto. He has an MBA from the University of Salford in the United Kingdom. Ahmad is an ASQ-certified Six Sigma Green Belt. He also is a Six Sigma Black Belt and certified in total quality management from Expertrating.