Now that scope has been established and all parties are in agreement as to the parameters of the project, it is time to map the processes. The goal here is to create a visual representation of each current or ‘as is’ process within the project – this would be the way things are actually being done, not the way management thinks it is or should be done.
There are many ways to approach process mapping, the most generally known are flowcharts and maps. A flowchart is a visual of each step in a process with various shaped boxes and arrows. A map is the picture that shows the activities that take place in the form of inputs, outputs, controls, and resources. The whole project is informally managed using a problem solving methodology known as DRIVE – an acronym for Define the scope, Review the current state, Identify solutions or improvements, Verify that the solution meets the requirements, and Execute.
Because the mapping process needs to be a truly collaborative effort, the tools used will vary depending on the participants. Butcher paper and Post-It Notes are favorites for information gathering sessions. Post-Its are particularly popular because of the colors and sizes available along with the ability to move them around as needed. A digital camera is an essential companion to the Post-It method to capture images of work in progress.
White boards are also popular, but the level of detail being captured can be limited by their size. Again, a digital camera is essential to capturing work in progress. There are white board applications available online, but are not as useful in a group setting, but can be valuable if the participants are in different locations – RealtimeBoard is one that has been recommended by other Business Process professionals and is free. Flow-charting programs such as Visio are valuable in creating in-process artifacts, status documents and closing documentation, but restrict participation in the information gathering sessions.
Once the ‘as is’ processes have been documented, it is important to ‘walk the document’ to ensure that the mapping is correct and exceptions have been identified. Watch each step, take notes, ask questions, and do it again. In cases where there are multiple people doing the same process, observe each one individually. Make note of any differences between the actual processes and the documented ‘as is’ processes, updating the document in preparation for the next step – defining opportunities for improvement, the ‘to be’ processes.
By Ellie Trautman