Are you still process mapping on paper?

When holding process improvement workshops that include a process or value stream mapping exercise, many Lean traditionalists prefer to use butcher paper and post-it notes to capture process activities and information flow.  The reasoning, most often, is that this method is easier and can be an interactive experience. 

While these are valid points, the argument to utilize software solutions instead of this manual method is a strong one.  Although only one individual can operate the computer utilized to capture and project the flow being documented, with the improvement in teleconference technologies participants can easily contribute to the process without the requirement of being collocated.  Additionally, as mapping exercises are iterative and revisions to the flow chart or value stream happen frequently, paper models can quickly become illegible; when working in a drawing and diagramming software tool, changes can be made much more easily.

For many process improvement workshops, not only is a visual representation constructed, but process performance data is also incorporated.  The use of software solutions like Microsoft Visio can allow users to manually enter the data associated with shapes in the diagram or to import data from external sources.  Additionally, Microsoft Visio Professional provides data graphics so that data values can be displayed in the context of the drawing or color-coding and/or icons can be added and set to appear automatically based on data values stored in the diagram shapes creating a much more valuable visual representation.

If using Microsoft Visio to create drawings, any data captured can also be analyzed using add-ins like ProcessView or LeanView to gain additional value.  Information about process performance can be quantified so that decisions about proposed process changes can be data-driven.

Unlike butcher paper and post-it notes, a process flowchart or value stream completed in Microsoft Visio can be easily stored in multiple formats.  This makes the improvement workshop output readily available for future use and extremely easy to socialize.

To learn more about how to improve your process improvement workshop, contact us for a demonstration.

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About Bluespring

Bluespring is a software development arm of Ascendum Solutions with a singular focus on helping organizations make work flow in Microsoft SharePoint.  We provide software and services that boost an organizations use of SharePoint to get critical information to the right people at the right time ... Read More

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