Six Sigma Process Mapping: Why It Matters and How to Get Started (2022)

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In a past blog post, we broke down the different types of process improvement methodologies and the diagrams you might use to follow any of these methods. Now we want to take a deep dive into one of the most-used techniques we discussed: Six Sigma process mapping.

Learn what a process map is, how it fits into the Six Sigma methodology, and how you can easily build one using a process mapping tool.

How process mapping works for Six Sigma

Six Sigma Process Mapping: Why It Matters and How to Get Started (1)

As a reminder, Six Sigma originated in 1986 as a data-driven approach usedfor increasing the quality of products and services by eliminating defects from any process. Companies using Six Sigma aim for 99.99966% of their products to be free of defects (we know, it’s pretty specific).

To achieve this goal, companies need to follow the DMAIC process, a Six Sigma process improvement methodology. Here are the five steps:

  • Define the problem, area for improvement, or customer requirements.
  • Measure performance of the current process.
  • Analyze the process to determine the root cause of defects or inefficiencies.
  • Improve performance by eliminating the root cause.
  • Control the improved process to ensure high performance.

Process mapping enters at the very first stage. Anyone involved with optimizing processes or eliminating defects needs to first define the process and understand it completely. A Six Sigma process map outlines the process graphically step by step to make understanding faster and easier.

(Video) Introduction to Process Mapping (Lean Six Sigma) ONLINE

Six Sigma Process Mapping: Why It Matters and How to Get Started (2)

Learn more about process maps and how to improve your business processes.

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Benefits of process mapping

You already have a lot of work ahead of you as you cut waste from your company’s operations—why dedicate resources to create a flowchart showing your whole process? Because Six Sigma process mapping can actually save you time through these benefits:

  • See the entire process in one view. Visualizations make abstract concepts, like processes, tangible so people can grasp ideas faster. Instead of literally walking through the process or reading explanations of individual steps to gain understanding, you can see the whole process at one time on a process map.

  • Detect waste faster. By visualizing the process, you can more easily pinpoint areas that do not add value or that lower efficiency. And as we’ll discuss later, you can also build a map of your future state and compare it with your current state.

    (Video) Six Sigma In 9 Minutes | What Is Six Sigma? | Six Sigma Explained | Six Sigma Training | Simplilearn

  • Deliver on promised expectations. The Six Sigma process comes down to quality. You want to eliminate defects so your customers receive exactly the products and services they expect to receive when they expect to receive them. Six Sigma process mapping forces you to see your process as it really happens so you can see where you may fall short of those expectations.

  • Store for future reference and training. Once you’ve found and corrected defects, train new hires or send the improved process around your office so everyone remembers the correct protocol.

Six Sigma process maps

Depending on the process you’re examining or your project goals, you may need to drill down and precisely document every single step, or you may just need a brief overview to show stakeholders. Whatever your situation, reap the benefits of Six Sigma process mapping with the help of these process maps.

SIPOC

SIPOC, which stands for suppliers, inputs, process, outputs, and customers, gives you a high-level overview of your process and its contributing components. As it includes other information on top of your process, use this diagram at the beginning of a process improvement initiative or before delving into more detailed process mapping.

High-level process map

The high-level process map illustrates the basic steps in your process so you can quickly and easily understand it without having to get down in the weeds. This map is valuable when working with executives or managers, since they often need to see what’s going on but don’t always need all the specifics involved in a process.

Detailed process map

As the name suggests, a detailed process map helps you see all the details in a process or part of a process. Because it requires so much detail, this process map is especially important for finding the root cause of errors or waste in a process. You may also need to involve the employees who perform the process since they will have the most knowledge about it.

Ready to create a high-level or a detailed process map?

Get started with our template

(Video) Process Mayhem to Process Mapping

Swimlane diagram/Deployment flowchart

A swimlane diagram, also known as a deployment flowchart, divides the process by the person or team who is in charge of that stage. As well as showcasing cross-functionality, this kind of process map clarifies where handoffs occur, which may not be as clear in other process maps.

Value stream map

Created as part of Lean implementation and process improvement, a value stream map is a process map that illustrates and analyzes the steps involved in producing a product or delivering a service. It’s a detailed diagram that displays a process’s current state, focusing on valuable or non-value added activities in the process.Try Lucidchart's value stream map template to create a value stream map in minutes.

How to create a process map in Six Sigma

Now that you have some options in front of you, it’s time to understand your process and build one of these process maps. Let’s walk through the steps of Six Sigma process mapping.

(Video) Process Mapping for Consultants

1. Determine context and scope

What do you want to accomplish with this process map? Which process or part of a process do you need to review? Once you understand how you want the process map to help you, you can choose a type of process map and decide how much detail it should cover.

2. Identify and sequence the steps of your as-is process

With the purpose and scope of your Six Sigma process map in mind, set the start and end points of your process. Add other shapes to represent process steps, inputs, outputs, transportation of materials, etc. Use process mapping symbols to visually differentiate these different steps.

3. Ask others to review the map for accuracy

Send your Six Sigma process map to people in different teams to make sure that all your information is accurate. You could even walk through the process yourself, with your process map in tow, to see whether you covered every step.

4. Analyze the process map and single out pain points

So you have an accurate visualization of your process. Great! Now you can refer to this document as you ask questions about the process. Are there steps you can remove or combine? Do you see any redundancies? If you have delays throughout the process, why are they happening? Keep asking yourself why the process functions the way it does. Make notes on or edit your process map to track the changes you want to see.

Optional: Create a new process map with your ideal state

Six Sigma process mapping can help you beyond visualizing your current state—you can also use this practice to map out your process as you would like it to be. With this ideal process in hand, you can compare the two diagrams and determine how to move your current state closer to the future state.

Whether you’re looking to optimize how you generate leads or understand your user flows, visually mapping your processes helps you attain your Six Sigma goals. Try out our tips and process map templates to reduce defects and ensure that you deliver quality in every process.

Six Sigma Process Mapping: Why It Matters and How to Get Started (8)

Map out your business processes and be more efficient with Lucidchart.

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(Video) Use Process Maps to Solve Problems (Tutorial)

FAQs

What is the purpose of process map in Six Sigma? ›

The Purpose of a Six Sigma Process Map

Identifying steps of the process that add complexity and need to be simplified. Visually comparing the current process to the potential new process. Making it easier for those outside the project team to understand the process.

Why does process mapping matter? ›

Visibility, insight, improvement

Process maps help to gain insight into how processes work—and also how well they work. When a process has been mapped out, it's easier to see where issues can occur, where time and effort is being needlessly wasted, and where changes might be made to improve the process.

What is process mapping and why do we need process mapping? ›

Process Mapping is the technique of using flowcharts to illustrate the flow of a process, proceeding from the most macro perspective to the level of detail required to identify opportunities for improvement. Process mapping focuses on the work rather than on job titles or hierarchy.

What is process mapping example? ›

Process mapping is a management tool that is used to visualize the flow of work within a business process. A process map shows the steps and people involved in a business process. It is important to understand the different roles and functions of process diagrams, process mapping, and process modeling.

What are the steps of process mapping? ›

How to create a process map
  1. Step 1: Identify a problem or process to map. ...
  2. Step 2: List the activities involved. ...
  3. Step 3: Write out the sequence of steps. ...
  4. Step 4: Draw a flowchart using process mapping symbols. ...
  5. Step 5: Finalize and share the process map. ...
  6. Step 6: Analyze the map to find areas of improvement. ...
  7. Flowchart.
24 May 2022

How can process map be improved? ›

Process Mapping - The Best Way to Improve Processes - YouTube

Who is responsible for process mapping? ›

Question #6: Who should do the Mapping? The mapping of business processes is usually undertaken by a centralised team, responsible for the entirety of describing all processes. They work with the subject matter experts from around the business and capture their knowledge of the process and document it as a process map.

Which diagram is process mapping? ›

the process of mapping requires work flow diagram. work flow diagram is a systematic and orderly representation of each and every step that is required to perform a task. this makes the task easy and more comprehensive.

Which of these tools are used for mapping processes? ›

13 Types of process mapping tools
  • GitMind. Gitmind is one of the best free online process mapping tools available. ...
  • Creately. Creately is another popular process mapping software program that you can use to create different types of diagrams. ...
  • LucidChart. ...
  • Edraw. ...
  • Visual Paradigm. ...
  • Google Drawings. ...
  • Canva. ...
  • Gliffy.

What does process mapping experience mean? ›

In a nutshell, process mapping is an exercise to identify all the steps and decisions of an existing process in diagrammatic form, which helps organisations identify improvement opportunities so that they can improve efficiency within an organisation.

What is the purpose of process? ›

Definition(s): High-level objective of performing the process and the likely outcomes of effective implementation of the process.

How do you create an effective process? ›

The right way to create a process
  1. Do the task yourself.
  2. Note down how you did it, not leaving any of the steps out.
  3. Structure the steps into a high-level overview.
  4. Break the high-level steps down into smaller items.
  5. Meticulously detail each small item, using images, videos and external resources to explain everything.
15 Mar 2016

How do you solve a mapping diagram? ›

Mapping Diagrams | MathHelp.com - YouTube

What are the 3 types of process flow diagram? ›

In 1987, Andrew Veronis published a book called Microprocessors: Design and Application that described the following three types of flowcharts: System flowchart. General flowchart. Detailed flowchart.

How long does process mapping take? ›

One hour is usually sufficient. Now let's look at that meeting piece by piece: Review the milestones of the high-level map. Get their agreement to the beginning and end of the process as defined – or revise it with them.

What are process mapping symbols? ›

Process symbols are also commonly called flowchart symbols, flowchart shapes or flow diagram symbols. These symbols come from the Unified Modeling Language or UML, which is an international standard for drawing process maps.

Is process mapping a skill? ›

Knowing how to create a business process map is a skill that project managers can rely on to provide value to teams and organizations. It doesn't have to be intimidating or overwhelming. Just follow the steps and turn to those who know what activities and information are involved.

What are the actions needed to improve a process in Six Sigma? ›

6 Tips for Process Improvement: Applying Lean Six Sigma at Work
  • Define: Figuring out your work problem.
  • Measure: Mapping out your processes as they exist right now.
  • Analyze: Identifying the causes of your work problem.
  • Improve: Implementing your remedy and verifying that it's working.
  • Control: Maintaining the solution.
31 Jan 2020

What is process mapping framework? ›

Business process mapping definition

Business process mapping is a framework that helps companies create visual representations of processes within the organization. Mapped processes can include products, software, services and even the onboarding or offboarding of employees.

How many levels are there in process mapping? ›

Many people think that process mapping is just putting some shapes on a diagram, but it means much more than that. There are 3 levels of process mapping that are commonly accepted among the 6Sigma crowd.

What is Level 0 process map? ›

A level 0 flowchart represents the least amount of detail, and usually contains one or two steps. A level 4 flowchart represents the most detail, and can include hundreds of steps.

What is a Level 3 process map? ›

Level 3 describes the detail of the task as a set of actions or if required as a process model. As a task can only be done by one person, in one place at one time, this is the lowest level of detail and cannot be broken down further. Rules, decisions and control points should be documented.

What is Level 4 process map? ›

Level four: is the documentation of systems, instructions and procedures required to complete steps in the level three processes and shows inputs, outputs, associated steps and decision points. For example, specific steps necessary to cut a PO in the enterprise application would require a level four process map.

What is a Level 5 process map? ›

- A level 5 procedure represents task level information, detailing how tasks are carried out manually by a process worker or automatically by the system. The level is a decomposition of a level 4 process/step. - A level 5 procedure map should contain 5 - 30 process steps.

What is an l1 process map? ›

A Process Map provides us with a holistic representation of the dependencies between different processes. For example, a Staff Induction process would have a dependency upon a Recruitment Process.

What is the first step in a process improvement project? ›

The first step in a process improvement project is to "D) creating a process map." By ensuring that the process is accurately depicted in a process flow chart or process map, the team will gain perspective of what is happening.

What is the difference between a flow chart and a process map? ›

Process mapping and flow charts are words used interchangeably and refer to creating a diagram that illustrates a business process. The only difference between these words is that process mapping refers to the actual process of creating a diagram; the diagram itself is called a flow chart.

What is the difference between map and model? ›

Every map is a representation of reality, thus a model in the broadest sense. Sometimes mapping is distinguished from modelling by stating that mapping is a simple representation of reality, while modelling is trying to cover more complexity in reality.

When creating a process map the purpose of a walkthrough is to? ›

When creating a process map, the purpose of a walkthrough is to... understand what is actually being done and why it is being done. A process map that provides an end-to-end view in only three to five steps is a... Level One process map.

Which technique is used to identify the connections in a process? ›

Flow chart technique

Flow charts use basic shapes and arrows to define relationships, such as processes, decisions, or data.

When creating a process map the purpose of a walkthrough is to? ›

When creating a process map, the purpose of a walkthrough is to... understand what is actually being done and why it is being done. A process map that provides an end-to-end view in only three to five steps is a... Level One process map.

What is a process in Six Sigma? ›

Six Sigma is a process that makes use of statistics and data analysis to analyze and reduce errors or defects. In this process, the purpose is to improve cycle times while reducing manufacturing defects to no more than 3.4 defects per million units or events.

What is a flowchart in Six Sigma? ›

Project teams use a Six Sigma flowchart to provide a visual representation of the steps, inputs and outputs, events and individual operations that make up a process. By expressing the details of an operation in a graphic way, it makes it easier for project teams to find ways to make process improvements.

What are the steps of process mapping? ›

How to create a process map
  1. Step 1: Identify a problem or process to map. ...
  2. Step 2: List the activities involved. ...
  3. Step 3: Write out the sequence of steps. ...
  4. Step 4: Draw a flowchart using process mapping symbols. ...
  5. Step 5: Finalize and share the process map. ...
  6. Step 6: Analyze the map to find areas of improvement. ...
  7. Flowchart.
24 May 2022

How do you create an effective process? ›

The right way to create a process
  1. Do the task yourself.
  2. Note down how you did it, not leaving any of the steps out.
  3. Structure the steps into a high-level overview.
  4. Break the high-level steps down into smaller items.
  5. Meticulously detail each small item, using images, videos and external resources to explain everything.
15 Mar 2016

How can process map be improved? ›

Process Mapping - The Best Way to Improve Processes - YouTube

Why is it called 6 sigma? ›

It's called Six Sigma because the term sigma refers to one standard deviation in a data set. The idea is that six such deviations should occur before the process results in a defect. When a process achieves Six Sigma, it reaches a point where only 3.4 errors per one million process events result in a defect.

What are the basic principles of Six Sigma? ›

There are five main principles of Six Sigma:
  • Customer focus. The main objective is to maximize the benefits for customers. ...
  • Assess the value chain and find the problem. ...
  • Eliminate defects and outliers. ...
  • Involve stakeholders. ...
  • Flexible and responsive system.
28 Sept 2020

What is an example of Six Sigma? ›

The Six Sigma DMAIC method is usually used for the advancement of an existing process. Potential DMAIC examples include the development of a manufacturing shop floor yield process or improving evidence-based care objectives for a hospital. The DMADV approach is used when designing a new process.

What is process mapping example? ›

Process mapping is a management tool that is used to visualize the flow of work within a business process. A process map shows the steps and people involved in a business process. It is important to understand the different roles and functions of process diagrams, process mapping, and process modeling.

What are the 3 types of process flow diagram? ›

In 1987, Andrew Veronis published a book called Microprocessors: Design and Application that described the following three types of flowcharts: System flowchart. General flowchart. Detailed flowchart.

What are process mapping symbols? ›

Process symbols are also commonly called flowchart symbols, flowchart shapes or flow diagram symbols. These symbols come from the Unified Modeling Language or UML, which is an international standard for drawing process maps.

What are the key elements of a process map? ›

  • A process map visually shows the steps of a work activity and the people who are involved in carrying out each step.
  • SIPOC shows the key elements of a process such as Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, and Customers.
12 Sept 2022

Who should always be involved in process mapping? ›

Question #6: Who should do the Mapping? The mapping of business processes is usually undertaken by a centralised team, responsible for the entirety of describing all processes. They work with the subject matter experts from around the business and capture their knowledge of the process and document it as a process map.

Videos

1. LEAN SIX SIGMA PROCESS MAPPING.(1-TO-1 Session with Dr. Lean Murali)
(Lean Murali)
2. Process Mapping
(LeanOhio)
3. Introduction to Process Mapping
(Paul Deane)
4. Lean Six Sigma In 8 Minutes | What Is Lean Six Sigma? | Lean Six Sigma Explained | Simplilearn
(Simplilearn)
5. 1. Process Mapping Symbols
(DVE Business Solutions)
6. Introduction to Process Flow Charts (Lean Six Sigma)
(Cody Baldwin)

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