The first step in the measure phase of a six sigma project is to create a detailed process map of the processes and sub-process under question. Participants often get confused between a high level process map and a detailed process map. This article will help articulate the link as well as the differences and clear the confusion.
What is a Detailed Process Map ?
Processes generally have an enormous amount of detail. This amount of detail if put at one go on paper or a computer screen will intimidate the person looking at it. It is virtually impossible to make sense of such overwhelming amount of information. For this reason, a drill down approach is used to represent processes.
The first visible process map contains 6 to 7 elements. These elements may actually be sub-processes. This means that they have their very own process contained within them. For simplicity sake they are being represented as one element.
When process mapping is done which contains the details from these sub processes, it is called a detailed process map.
The detailed process map is contained within the high level process map. It is easier to understand with the analogy of a website. You can think of the high level process map as the home page of the website. It contains the links to other pages (other processes i.e. detailed process map).
During execution when the process reaches a given stage. First the internal processes are executed. Then the result is passed on to the next element in the process. A detailed process map contains the exact steps, the exact inputs, outputs, metrics and the exact people that are needed to execute the process.
Swim lanes is a technique used in process mapping to simplify the work procedure. The process is divided into several swim lanes. These are represented by the different people that will perform that job. Hence if a task falls in Person As swim lane, he is responsible to get it done.
Detailed process maps are often prepared in the swim lane format. This is because often there are multiple detailed process maps. Keeping track of who is supposed to do what may get confusing. Swim lanes help to simplify them.
A detailed process map contains information about the exact type, quality etc of the input required and of the output expected. It also contains precise information about how the process should behave. Creating a detailed process map helps us clarify the process inputs, outputs and variables. Once we have all of them listed we can then start prioritizing and identifying the important ones.
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