Continuing with our theme of Continuous Improvement (CI) tools, people often need to increase the throughput or output of a process, but don’t have access additional resources to do so.
In these situations a Process Flow Chart is an excellent tool to start with.
A Process Flow Chart or Process Evaluation Chart (the latter is populated with measurement data) can be created by bringing together the participants in the process and mapping it out together. Some
organizations believe that mapping the processes with the frontline associates always results in lightbulbs going on and the associates voicing concerns and ideas once their process is on the wall.
There are always surprises, as people find ‘black holes’ or dead ends, and see the ‘wastes’ that are often invisible during the typical business day. Unnecessary waiting and handovers suddenly become visible; details about the things other teams or team members do suddenly become clear as people realize how their work impacts others and vice versa. Action logs based on the concerns/ideas are almost always a result at well, and they serve as the basis for the improvement project to increase output simply due to the heightened awareness stemming from the flow chart.
Here is a sample of a simple flow chart:
When creating a flowchart, process steps are shown as shapes of various kinds, and their order by connecting the shapes with arrows or lines. Different shapes are used to indicate actions, decision points, recycle loops, work and wait times.
Here is a summary of the most commonly-used shapes: