Three Types of Process Maps
First of all, it is important to realize that process mapping is not a goal on its own, determining the process goals and possible improvements set the path to be followed and provide the necessary depth to the process.
Process mapping is a useful tool to determine a systematic methodology which can lead to continuous improvement which, in turn, keeps the clients and stakeholders happy. To actually ‘map’ a process, there are three general types of maps that can be used. There are of course many more types, but these three are the ones that are used most often.
A Flow Diagram
A flow diagram is an overview of the main processes a company utilizes to deliver its products and services to clients. It is a first step to point towards, and focus on, quality improvement. At every system level, it shows what the company produces, who is involved and, based on in- and output, how a process influences other processes.
Constructing a flow diagram helps clarify goals and identify indicators for the possible future improvements.
Figure 1: Flow Diagram
A System Flowchart
A system flowchart (also called cross-functional flowchart or process map, deployment flowchart, or macro process map), is a powerful instrument in visualizing (often primary) processes clearly. This type of chart usually crosses the boundaries between company departments and identifies bottlenecks, repetitive steps in the process, excessive controls and potential risks.
System flowcharts are relatively easy o understand for someone who does not have any experience on this area. Making such a flowchart is not necessarily difficult, but, when many process steps and people are involved, can lead to a rather complex result.
Figure 2: System Flowchart
A Simple Flowchart
A simple flowchart shows inputs, activities, decisions and outputs of a process, partial process, or even a single process step. These are shown in a successive manner without denoting all the different functions within the concerned process.
Such a simple flowchart is usually only effective to describe or visualize processes that do not cross interdepartmental boundaries. A flowchart of this nature should only be assembled when it is absolutely necessary. A possible example of this is to find possible causes of problems that are identified in other charts or diagrams, but are insufficiently visible here (so, the simple flowchart ‘zooms in’ on the problem, allowing an identification of what causes the actual problems), or to properly document a work instruction (how is this supposed to be done correctly?)
Figure 3: Simple Flowchart
Figure 1: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Functional_Flow_Block_Diagram_Format.jpg
Figure 2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:(1)_2008-04-07_Information_Management-_Help_Desk.jpg
Figure 3: http://www.visguy.com/2006/09/13/create-visio-flowcharts-programmatically/