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Demystifying Process Mapping for Success

For nonprofit and for-profit organizations, achieving excellence and equity requires an understanding of how the work gets done. This is where Process Maps come in. They're visual tools that show how the work gets done, which is super helpful for all sorts of businesses. In this blog post, we'll dive into what a Process Map is, the different types, and how it can help make operations better (effective) and faster (efficient).

A Process Map is like a picture or drawing that explains the steps and activities in a certain process. It gives a clear view of how things work, from start to finish. Process maps are used in business, healthcare, government, and non-profit organizations, just to name a few.


New employees will be difficult to train, the work will not be completed consistently, and work challenges will persist with a clear visual picture of how the work gets done. With regard to equity gaps, the root causes are hidden within the steps of your process. Equity cannot be achieved without a deep understanding of the process.

Here are some important things to know about process maps

Types of Process Maps:

  1. Flowchart: This is the most common type. It uses shapes (like rectangles for steps, diamonds for decisions, and arrows for flow) to show different parts of a process.

  2. Swimlane Diagram: This organizes the steps by area or person in charge. It helps figure out who's responsible for each step of the process.

  3. SIPOC (Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, Customers): This is a high-level map that gives an overview of a process. SIPOC is an acronym that stands for Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs and Customers. In practical terms, SIPOC is a process mapping tool for improvement.

Benefits of Process Maps:

  • Clarity: Process maps show how the work gets done in a clear way, making it easier to understand and explain to others.

  • Find Problems: Process maps can point out where things slow down, repeat, or need to be better. You can’t improve what you can’t see!

  • Make Things Standard: They help ensure everyone does things the same way.

  • Teach Others: Process maps are useful for teaching new employees how to do a specific job or process. This is especially useful when employee turnover is high.

How to Use a Process Map:

  1. Define the Goal: Clearly state what process you want to map and what you want to achieve by mapping.

  2. Set Process Boundaries: Identify the beginning and the end of the process before mapping. This helps set clear limits of the process.

  3. Get Information: Talk to the people involved. They can share important details about the steps and decisions from different points of view.

  4. Pick the Right Map: Depending on how complicated the process is and how much detail you need, choose the right type of process map.

  5. Draw the map: Use a software tool or draw it yourself. Use standard symbols and keep them neat and easy to follow.

  6. Get Feedback: Share the map with the right people for their thoughts. Make changes based on what they say. (Add: Don't try to do it all alone - turn it into a positive collaborative project.)

  7. Stay Engaged: Use the map as a guide for the process. Watch how it goes, and be open to making it better. Keep the map where everyone can see it, either on a computer or on paper.

Remember, a well-made process map is a strong tool for understanding, studying, training, and making processes better. It's a big help for businesses and groups that want to be more efficient, effective and equitable.

Download the free Process Map template now!

SSREI Process Map
Download PDF • 679KB

@2023 Six Sigma Racial Equity Institute

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