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In two previous blogposts we have discussed the lean techniques Brainstorm and Fishbone, which are part of the Measure phase (M in DMAIC). Forelast technique in this phase that we will discuss is the Process overview or Process map.
What is it?
The problems we try to solve occur in the process. It is, in fact, always worth it to further analyze the process. This starts with making a process model that we will then use for several Analysis phase techniques. Determining a process in a group frequently triggers discussions and issues that can be relevant in the next steps. This way, this technique produces both a process model and also new yellow sticky notes with potential causes of the problem.
For this session we invite a group of co-workers with (fundamental) knowledge of the process. Make sure there are also people present who play an active role in the process.
Start with naming both the process starting point (trigger), and the end of the process (result). These are drawn onto the drawing field and they indicate the scope of the process (and the project).
Then the process is filled out by participants from trigger to result. Use the activities, arrows and divisions. Arrows can be equipped with conditions.
The proces scan starts taking shape this way, and can also fuel a lot of discussion about the process. Where do things go wrong? Where do we have to wait? Where are we not sure how the process is running? These points of discussion are processed into the yellow sticky notes along the way.
As soon as the process is complete, we revisit all the yellow sticky notes and flag them if we want to further examine a point as a cause of the problem.
Tips and best practices
Choose a scope for the process that links up with the problem definition. Don’t make the scope too small; ideally, the process is considered to be customer-to-customer.
Frequently, process descriptions are already available in organizations (AO descriptions, work instructions). These can be used to prepare for this technique (by going through parts of it in advance), but it is not a replacement for this session. The strength is in discussing the process in the group.