Earlier this week I discussed the benefits of processing mapping. Process maps are used to develop a better understanding of a process, to generate ideas for process improvement or stimulate discussion, build stronger communication, and — of course — to document a process. Creating a process map is a relatively straight forward process but some mistakes can derail the process.
Here are the most common pitfalls in process mapping and some possible remedies:
- "Unbalanced" map (too much detail in some areas, not enough in others).
Remedy: Compare to other parts of the map; ask, "Does this step contain roughly the same amount of effort as that step?"
- Gaps (missing or uncertain steps).
Remedy: Ensure that those who help create the map are knowledgeable of the process, or hav others review the draft for completeness and accuracy.
- Map too "busy."
Remedy: Use additional paper and plenty of white space, or expanded maps cross-referenced to base map.
- Takes too long, or people get bogged down.
Remedy: Establish ground rules:
- outstanding items list
- move on after 5 minutes
- follow rough draft principle; first get it down, then get it good
- use a facilitator.
- Unclear terminology, or cannot remember what was said about a particular step.
Remedy: Take notes while mapping, create a glossary of terms.
- Group is mixed or defers to designated decision makers.
Remedy: Stress that firsthand knowledge of the work process is what matters. Strive for equal participation, even if it means redefining the group. Try to prevent this problem by staffing the group with the right mix up front and explaining to management that they should select those closest to the work.