Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Three Process Mapping Tools

Process Mapping is a method of recording the elements of a process in order to gain a better understanding of the steps, people, and variance involved. In this blog I will look at three types of process maps:

1) Swim Lane flowchart
2) Conversion mapping
3) PACT Performance Modeling

Swim Lane Flowchart

A Swim Lane Flowchart breaks a process down into sub-processes and sorts each sub-process into categories. Each sub-process is sorted vertically or horizontally into rows by the group or person responsible  for its performance. To create a Swim Lane Flowchart, first identify the people or groups responsible for the process and set up horizontal or vertical lanes (see example below). Identify the outcome of the process... what is being produced. Identify the stimulus to begin the process, then fill in the process from the stimulus to the outcome. See example below:

Swim Lane Flowchart

Conversion Mapping

Another way to map a process is by using Conversion Mapping. Conversion Mapping is less detailed than Swim Lane Flowcharts, but allows you the opportunity to identify variance at each sub-step. The process is similar to creating a Swim Lane Flowchart except there is no space to identify identify who is responsible for each sub-step. After identifying each sub-step, identify the inputs and outputs. In the example below, the outputs from many of the sub-steps are also inputs for the next step. One benefit a Conversion Map has over a Swim Lane Flowchart is that you can identify Variance for each Input and Output. Identifying Variance is helpful if you are looking to improve the process.

Conversion Map

PACT Performance Modeling

PACT stands for "Performance-based Accelerated Customer/Stakeholder driven Training and Development of any blend." PACT is Guy Wallace's performance improvement system of which his Performance Model is a part. Guy's Performance Model is outlined in detail on his blog, here.

PACT Performance Model

Final Thoughts

The Swim Lane Flowchart is a great way to visualize the process and the people/groups involved. The problem I see with the Swim Lane Flowchart is that they do not provide a way to identify variance within a process, therefore they are limited in application.

Conversion Mapping is a great way to visually display the entire process and variance for each input and output within the process. However, unlike the Swim Lane Flowchart, Conversion Mapping does not identify the people or groups involved in each sub-step.

I see the Performance Model as a combination of the Swim Lane Flowchart and the Conversion Map. You identify the Output and sub-steps within the process, and then under the roles and responsibilities columns you identify the groups or people involved. Then under the "Typical Performance Gaps" column you identify the variance. And then, as Billy Mays would say "But Wait, There's More!" In addition to identifying the process, sub-processes, people, groups, and variance, the PACT Performance Model also has space for a Root Cause Analysis.

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