A Process Map is a visual representation of the sequence of steps in a process. It consists of a few basic shapes with specific meanings and may also be referred to as a flowchart.
Ready to build your Process Map and start improving?
Process Maps show:
The process as a whole
The sequence of steps
The relationship between steps
The starting and ending steps, which identify the boundaries of the process
The Process Map makes the process visible and understandable. This visual is especially important for parts of the process that are invisible, such as the work you do in your head. It takes you from the beginning of a process, through each action, then ends when the process finishes.
Jump to Section:
How do I create a Process Map?
To create your Process Map:
Identify the process being described. Map the process as it is, not how people think it is!
Make sure you gather input from people who work within the process.
Identify the starting and ending points, or boundaries.
Begin with the first process action. Use a terminator symbol containing a statement that begins with a verb, or action word. This is your starting boundary.
Rectangles represent an activity. Ask, “What happens next?” as you put activities in the sequence as they are usually performed.
Use a diamond to signify a decision. Two paths emerge from a decision signifying “Yes” or “No.”
Indicate when data is either input or output from your process using the parallelogram shape.
The ellipse is used as a connector when your process flow jumps to another section of the map. Place two ellipses for where you make the jump to where you land. Label them with the same letter or number.
Continue asking “What happens next?” until you have reached the last process action. Use the terminator shape once more to identify your ending step or boundary for your process.
Connect the symbols using arrows to illustrate process flow.
In most processes, multiple participants or functions engage in the work. The swimlane format makes it clear who does each part of the work. Consider the various participants in the process and label a swimlane for each. Keep it simple to just one or two words.
Process Map How-To
How do I add a swimlane to an existing Process Map?
Drag the swimlane shape from the symbol palette onto an existing swimlane.
How do I add a swimlane separate from an existing Process Map?
Drag the swimlane from the symbol palette to an empty space. The new swimlane will display an editable title. Adjust the size of your new Process Map as needed. This feature is helpful if you need to create two separate Process Maps on the same page.
How do I add a swimlane to an empty Process Map?
Drag the swimlane from the symbol palette to an empty space. The swimlane will display an editable title. Adjust the size of your Process Map as needed.
How do I delete a swimlane?
Click on the swimlane you wish to delete until a red border appears. Then press the “delete” key.
How do I add a shape to a swimlane?
Click and drag the shape from the symbol palette to the swimlane you want. If you need to adjust its position, click and drag the shape to the desired location.
How do I delete a shape or connector?
Click on the shape or connector you wish to delete until a red border appears. Then press the “delete” key.
How do I adjust the size of a shape?
Click on the shape you wish to resize, and you will see eight circle “handles” appear. Click on a handle and drag it to resize the shape. The corner handles will allow you to enlarge or reduce the size while maintaining the same shape. The border handles will enable you to stretch or squeeze the shape.
How do I add a connector?
Drag a connector from the symbol palette to the shape you want to connect to within the swimlane. To connect to a shape, drag the connector to the shape. You’ll see four magenta circle connection points appear. Drag the connector end to the point of your choice. When the circle turns green, unclick and the connector will connect to the shape. Repeat for the other end of the connector.
How do I change the connection point of a connector?
Click on the connector at the connection point you wish to change, then drag it to the desired connection point.
How do I choose the correct connector?
Use the straight connector to connect two shapes in a straight line (e.g., within the same swimlane). Use the elbow connector when a straight line does not work (e.g., crossing different swimlanes). You can adjust the routing of an elbow connector.
How do I adjust an elbow connector?
Click on the elbow connector you wish to adjust, and diamonds will appear along the line. Next, click the diamond and drag it perpendicular to itself to modify the routing.
How do I add text to a shape or connector?
Double-click on the shape until a textbox appears, then type in the desired text. Double-click on the connector until a textbox appears to add text to a connector.
How do I edit the text in a shape or connector?
Double-click on the text until you see the cursor change to the I-beam shape. If you want to replace all the text, simply type in your desired content. If you wish to edit part of the test, move the cursor to the desired edit point and type. If you type more text than the shape can hold, the shape will automatically enlarge.
How do I adjust the height of a swimlane?
Click on the swimlane you wish to adjust and hover the cursor to its bottom horizontal border. The cursor will change to a vertical arrow. Next, click and drag the border to the desired height.
How do I adjust the width of a swimlane?
Click on the swimlane you wish to adjust and hover the cursor to its right vertical border. The cursor will change to a horizontal arrow. Next, click and drag the border to the desired width. You may need to zoom out to see the right boundary.
How do I zoom in and out?
Zoom by clicking one of the two magnifying glass icons near the lower right-hand corner of the window. The icon with the plus sign will magnify by zooming in, while the minus sign will reduce by zooming out. Each click will adjust by approximately 20%.
We use a single Process Map in Quick Win projects, but for Root Cause Exploration™ projects we use two Process Maps because we will often make structural changes to the process.
The As-Is Map shows the process as it exists before improvements – it is exactly the same as the Process Map made for Quick Win projects.
Regardless of how well you may think you know your process, taking your team on a Process Walk is a good idea. Keeping your SIPOC in mind, trace the process flow from input to output, noting any anomalies or variations from the norm. These may be clues to possible root causes.
Even if everything appears to be working correctly, look for variations. Slight differences that may be normal. These differences may also be clues. Use what you find to document the processes.
The To-Be Map shows what the new process will be. It is often a slightly modified version of the As-Is Map, so that is a great starting point. Review the As-Is Map, identify where changes will be made and make the needed changes. You might want to emphasize the new steps by colorizing the boxes (Kure has a pallet of colors you can choose from). Once you have identified the changes, you can list them in your Implementation Plan so that you can assign them to the appropriate person.
In some cases, the basic process has not changed, but some aspect of how the work happens in one or more boxes has changed. In this case, you can simply use a copy of the As-Is process and add explanatory notes to describe what is different. In this case the overall steps are the same, but there may be a change in who does the step or the manner in which it is performed.
Kure guides you through each step to create your Process Map by asking simple questions and providing guidance along the way. Powered by our Process Optimization Path™ (artificial intelligence), Kure will help you and your teams collaborate to complete process improvement projects together.
Ready to build your Process Map and start improving?