The key elements of process maps such as flowcharts, deployment charts and SIPOC charts include a visual representation of organizational processes, how these processes intersect and create new processes depending on the inputs, and the organizational goals of a process. Process maps therefore allow organizations to more easily assess where improvements can be made and whether the inclusion of any new steps would make the process more efficient overall. Maximizing efficiency can help an organization reduce waste and optimize its processes so that resources can be saved or better distributed throughout a project (Benedict & Bilodeau, 2013).
A flowchart is a type of diagram that shows various steps that should enacted if a certain parameter occurs. For instance, a problem that might occur for an organization would be if a client or customer was dissatisfied with a certain service or product. A flowchart would show the proper steps that should be taken in this regard; for instance, the first method might be to offer a discounted rate, which might resolve the problem. If this does not resolve the problem, the second step would be to see if the client would consider a replacement, and if that does not work, providing a refund might be a third option. The flowchart would indicate all the steps along the way that would be involved depending on whether the client was satisfied with the solution. This would allow the organization to see what methods were most effective in resolving the problem and design new policies that would ideally minimize the impact that this problem might create in the future.
A deployment chart is used to identify the numerous steps that occur within a sequence, including the interactions between stakeholders that impact the overall goals of a project. This type of chart is useful for showing the exact methods that are involved with any given project, including the specific impact that each component has toward achieving the project goals. These types of charts might be used in evaluating an organization’s supply chain to identify the relationships between various suppliers and see if there are any inefficiencies that can be identified. This type of chart tends to be very detailed and shows all the numerous steps and outcomes throughout a process. When examined as a whole, a deployment chart can help identify inefficiencies that were not previously identified within a process.
A SIPOC diagram is used often in Six Sigma methods, at the measurement stage. SIPOC stands for suppliers, inputs, processes, outputs and customers and therefore identifies each of the processes that might occur at any of these stages (Conger, 2015). For instance, the processes regarding suppliers would have one series of steps that should be taken, while processes regarding customers would have a different series of steps. The efficiency of the overall process can therefore be determined in regard to each of the SIPOC categories. By analyzing the processes of each individual component, any potential inefficiency can be more readily identified and a solution can be created within the specific category where it occurs, without the need to reevaluate the entire structure of the process as a whole.
The pros of using process maps is that they can clearly organize a process using a visual representation that is easily understood, and reveal inefficiencies that previously remained hidden. They can help organizations streamline operations and provide guidance on what specific steps should be taken whenever a certain problem or situation occurs, without the need to reevaluate a solution each time a problem arises. Additionally, finding an inefficiency can help the organization better optimize its processes so that problems are less likely to reoccur. The cons of using process maps is that they can be somewhat rigid and inflexible, and they may not address problems that were not considered when the process map was originally constructed. For instance, a flowchart that provides two possible outcomes when a parameter occurs might actually overlook a third alternative by design, and therefore might be limited in scope.
- Benedict, T., & Bilodeau, N. (2013). BPM CBOK Version 3.0: guide to the business process management common body of knowledge. ABPMP International/Createspace.
- Conger, S. (2015). Six sigma and business process management. Springer Berlin Heidelberg.