Lean process mapping: How to get it done in your company

There is no way to do lean process mapping without first considering the fact that this necessary procedure should be developed in two main sections of a BPM project:

  •  AS IS process mapping (as it is now).
  • TO BE process mapping (as it should be after improved).

It seems clear that without a proper diagnosis of the current situation of the processes in the organization, it will be tough to think of improvements, as these will be based exactly on possible faults, mistakes, shortcomings, bottlenecks and other process characteristics in the present that is intended to improve the future.

In other words: How does mapping the processes TO BE, without having the right conclusions about the AS-IS process, depict the current situation of the company?

So you can understand more about process mapping, below are some definitions, information, and tips on the subject. Followed by more details on a major process mapping approach: Lean process mapping.


See also: Understand all stages of the strategic planning process.


Process mapping: how to

The first important factor that one needs to keep in mind is not to confuse process diagrams, process maps, and process modeling.

Each of these elements has functions and uses different information. They involve various degrees of depth of this information, which can be summarized as follows:

Diagram process: A simpler representation of process flows, containing only the main activities.


Check out: Learn the 6 simple steps of a diagram of business processes.


Map process: The diagram is limited to information about the flow and its activities, a process map is broader, also including people, events, rules, and results, among others, which are detailed below.


Model process: This is the most advanced level of process mapping and should cover the entire process completely, including information about the business, operational information, accurate process information and technical information.


See more details about the modeling process in this post: Learn about business process modeling.


More details about process mapping

Process mapping: how to make a complete map


As we have seen, one of the objectives of process mapping is to provide a base so that we can further develop the collection and further development of information to produce a good process model.

For this, there is no way to do process mapping without giving some basic, but very important information:

  • Process inputs.
  • Process outputs.
  • System documentation that supports each activity.
  • A detailed description of procedures for each activity.
  • Functions of the agents (people) in the process.


With this in mind, it is important to be very clear on the following concepts:

Inputs: are the products necessary for an activity to take place. For example, an email with the request from a client or a form with information and specifications for a particular piece to be produced.

Outputs: are the products generated by each activity, to be delivered to the next activity to be carried out. For example, an email confirming with the customer that their order is being processed or another email requesting the purchase of certain inputs by the purchasing department.

It is important to note that each task, in most cases, does not correspond to a complete process but are activities that make up the process as a whole. Thus, only when the activities are arranged in a sequence do they form a stream that portrays the process, or what is commonly referred to as a process map, as long as you have included all of the information noted above.


Process mapping: how to collect data

One of the most important tasks when creating a map is to collect the necessary information. Moreover, there is no way to do process mapping without the help of professionals directly involved in it, especially those more experienced.


With this in mind, here are the 4 most used techniques:

Meetings with those involved in the process: If managed well, they can be fast, objective and just used to align opinions and expectations among participants. So, have more than one meeting!


On the topic of meetings, check this out: 6 ways to make meetings more productive in your company


Direct observation: Simply observe the processes taking place and write down everything that is important.

Personal Interviews: Interview process staff that can provide relevant information.

Questionnaires: Distribute forms with relevant questions to get more information from other members of the most comprehensive and quick processes.


How to do lean process mapping

The lean process mapping approach focuses on time. In fact, the reduction of the time elapsed between activities. For this, analyze and try to eliminate the 7 types of, in some cases very common waste, for example:

Defects: If products are produced without defects, they do not need to be repaired or rebuilt, reducing the loss of time.

Wasted talent: People who work directly with the processes often have excellent ideas to gain time and efficiency. You must always utilize this talent!

Waiting periods: A traditional time loss factor, having to wait for the previous task to finish before starting the next, even having already finished what should have been done to prepare for the task. It is one of the major wastes in lean process mapping, try to find any and fix them.

Transport: Reduce the transported distances (and time!) to the maximum, especially in the internal stages of the process. It is done by redesigning facility layouts as well as, local storage and delivery, for example.

Movement: In the same way, another factor addressed quite a lot in lean process mapping. It is about conducting an ergonomic and displacement study so that everything is within the operators reach.

Inventory: Know exactly the required amount of inputs and outputs, avoid excess inventory or empty spaces in warehouses. Often what is needed is a regular information update.

Extra processing: Is a common occurrence with lean process mapping, if you notice that some tasks were unnecessary, for example: photographing every person who enters into a commercial building during the entry process at the gate, when often these people are already registered in the system and have recent pictures.


As you can see, lean process mapping aims to reduce the cycle time in each process, allowing for more productivity, producing more in less time!


What did you think of our tips on lean process mapping and how to do process mapping? Want more information? Take a look at this post: Why map processes? Can it help a company?


Another important tip is to use technology through BPM tools to map, model and redesign processes, preferably using the BPMN 2.0 notation, the most used by large corporations.


Check out: Why and how to use the most widely accepted BPMN 2.0 notation.

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