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How To Effectively Implement Business Process Mapping Inspired by Six Sigma

Navigating through a project can often feel like finding your way in a dense forest, especially without the right tools. Enter process mapping – an essential part of Six Sigma methodologies that enables smooth and efficient project completion.

This blog post is packed with practical insights to effectively implement business process mapping within your projects, ensuring better visualization of tasks and improved productivity.

Get ready, this could be the guide you’ve been looking for!

Key Takeaways

  • Process mapping is a key tool in Six Sigma projects. It helps find waste and make tasks clear.
  • To map a process, pick the best task to improve. List its parts, plan your steps and pick the right mapping way.
  • Avoiding mistakes like unclear focus or trying for “perfect” map is important. Each project needs a different kind of map.
  • Start with a top-down / Executive view vs starting in the weeds with procedures and working upward
  • Mapping processes leads to benefits such as better understanding of work, cost cuts, happier customers and easy talks among team members.

The Importance of Process Mapping in Six Sigma Projects

Process mapping in Six Sigma plays a vital role in unveiling unnecessary tasks or waste. It’s essential in ensuring that processes meet quality standards and align with customer expectations, hence its importance cannot be overstated.

Uncovering waste

Process mapping finds waste in a project. It shows areas where time, people, or money are not used well. This helps to speed up work by finding steps that do not add value. By getting rid of these steps, companies can save resources and improve results.

Six Sigma uses process maps to spot this waste and fix it for better project outcomes through process improvement.

Delivering to expectations

Process maps in Six Sigma make tasks clear. They show what needs to be done and when. This helps teams meet a job’s goals. It also shows how each step is linked to the next one. By using process mapping, you can see if a task is helpful or not.

This way, you know what steps help reach your goal and which ones slow you down. Merely knowing this makes it easy to do better work faster. You use less energy but still meet client needs on time.

Process mapping stops guesswork because each move has a reason behind it.

What Are the Basic 4 Levels of Process

The purpose of a process map is to break out and communicate the steps in a process.  This break out can be simplified into 4 Basic Levels meant to communicate to different target audiences.  While not necessarily Six Sigma, these levels do relate and provide organizational value.  This is a top-down approach starting with Level 1 the Executive Overview and moving to Level 3.  Procedures are Level 4 in this model.  Most process mapping by non practitioners starts at this level since it is typically the view people want when mapping “As-Is”.

Level 1 – Executive Level Overview: This is the highest level of process mapping. It provides a bird’s-eye view of the entire process or system, often capturing the major steps or stages without delving into the details. This level is typically used for senior management to get a quick understanding of a process.

Level 2 – Business Process (The What): This level delves a bit deeper, outlining the specific steps or tasks that need to be accomplished within a process. It’s more detailed than the executive overview but doesn’t get into the granular details of each step. It answers the “What” needs to be done.

Level 3 – Detailed View with System Design (The How): This is a more detailed map that not only outlines the steps but also describes how each step is to be accomplished. It might include specific tools, techniques, or methodologies to be used. This level is particularly useful for those directly involved in the process, as it provides a clear roadmap of how things should be done.

Level 4 – Procedures Level: The most detailed level, this map breaks down each step into its constituent tasks, often in a sequential manner. It’s the blueprint for the process, providing clear instructions for each task. This level is crucial for creating governance, control points, user guides, SOPs, and other detailed documentation.

What are the Types of Process Maps in Six Sigma?


This high-level process map stands for Supplier – Inputs – Process – Outputs – Customer. It provides a broad view of the process, highlighting the major activities of the process.

High-Level Process Map:

As the name suggests, this map offers a high-level overview of the process, focusing on major steps and flow.

Detailed Process Map:

This map dives deep into the process details, capturing every step, decision, and interaction. It’s invaluable when a detailed understanding of the process is required.

Swimlane Map:

This type of map organizes process steps into ‘lanes’ representing different departments or roles, ensuring clarity in responsibilities throughout the process.

Relationship Map:

Useful for understanding the sequence and interdependencies of processes, this map is essential when multiple processes are interconnected.

Value Stream Map:

A specialized tool in Lean Six Sigma, the value stream map helps identify value-added and non-value-added steps in a process, aiming for waste reduction.

What are the Implementation Steps for Effective Process Mapping?

To effectively map a process in Six Sigma projects, you should first pinpoint the process you aim to demystify. Next, make sure to comprehend the scope of each process step and adequately plan for resources.

In doing so, selecting an appropriate mapping approach is invaluable. Don’t forget to conduct informative interviews with relevant stakeholders before drafting your preliminary “As-Is” process map.

Lastly, ensure that you thoroughly analyze and evaluate the map prior to acquiring sign-off – this shall help uncover hidden inefficiencies or misalignments within your selected business tasks.

Selecting the process

First, you must pick the best process for your map. This is an important step in Six Sigma projects. The perfect pick would be a process that has issues or can get better. It could be one where waste may hide or time and money burn more than they should do.

Picking a process needs sharp thought and the right choice will lead to big wins later on. Ideally, select a process with inefficiencies, hidden waste, or excessive resource consumption. The Theory of Constraints (TOC) offers one methodology to find that targeted process.

The Theory of Constraints (TOC) offers the Five Focusing Steps.  These steps, especially the “Identify” phase, assist you in pinpointing the processes primary constraint. The Current Reality Tree aids in visualizing and understanding this constraint.

Addressing this constraint using TOC tools ensures that mapping efforts yield the most impactful results, optimizing throughput and overall efficiency.

Identifying the scope of the process steps

Knowing the scope of the process steps is vital. It shows what parts are in and out for your map. First, note all tasks tied to a process. Next, find out who does each task. Then gather data on time, inputs and outputs for all steps.

Also think about where flow starts or stops in your plan, what supplies they need, and maps the path from start to end. This gives a clear view of how work flows through it.

Planning and scheduling resources

In a Six Sigma project, it is key to plan and schedule resources well. You need time and people for every step of the process. A clear plan helps things run smooth. It lays out who does what task and when they do it.

With short-term tasks, you can work faster if more people help. But in long-term tasks, adding more workers won’t quicken the job done because of factors like training time or lack of space where they will work.

A good leader knows all about this “law”. They set clear roles for each team member based on their skills using process mapping tools. This way everyone knows what to focus on so there’s no wasted time or effort.

Selecting mapping techniques

Picking mapping methods is vital for your project. You can see different parts of the process with each method. Some may show a big picture while others get to small details. Use a swimlane map if tasks depend on many teams.

A detailed map works best for complex tasks that need more information. Always think about what you want from the map before choosing a technique. This pick will shape how useful your tool becomes in spotting waste and boosting efficiency in your Six Sigma projects.

Conducting interviews

In the steps of mapping, doing interviews is key. Talk with people who know the process well. They are usually workers and bosses. For As-Is, they can tell you how things go step by step in that work.

This helps to draw a map that shows what really happens at work. From these talks, you also learn where there may be problems or delays in work flow. These are spots to fix in a Six Sigma project so work gets better and faster.

When interviewing for Level 2 in a Business Process Diagram, the questions should be “What do you want”, or “What are you trying to accomplish”.  The “What” is for the Business Process Level. The “How is is accomplished” is usually in Level 3″.  This is because you need to take the system you are implementing into account to answer those questions.

Creating the As-Is process map

First, talk to the people who do the work. Ask them what they do each day. Then, draw a map of their answers. This is your As-Is process map. It shows every step in how a task gets done now.

The aim is not to show an ideal method yet – that comes later after you identify waste and areas for improvement. Drawing this kind of map helps better understand how work flows through your organization or department currently.

Analyzing, evaluating, and sign-off

We look at the process map to find things to fix. This step is called analyzing. We check if all parts of the process work well together and do what they should do. This step is known as evaluating.

The last important step in creating a good process map is getting a thumbs-up from people who matter. They need to say yes, everything looks right! This approval is what we refer to as sign-off.

Making sure the process map works fine will help make it better over time. Once everyone agrees that it’s perfect, we use it for our Six Sigma projects. A great map helps us solve problems quickly and makes our work easy and fast-moving!

What are the Most Common Mistakes to Avoid When You Create a Process Map?

In the effort to streamline Six Sigma projects with process mapping, it’s important we sidestep certain pitfalls such as applying process maps inaccurately or losing sight of our focus.

Discover more about how these missteps can negatively impact your project and learn strategies to avoid them in the following sections.

Applying process maps to inadequate process types

Process maps don’t work well for all types of processes. Some make the task harder. Let’s say you use a process map on sales. Sales has many steps to follow and can confuse the team.

Most CRM systems track steps but fail to help with selling itself. Using mapping tools on wrong processes is common in Six Sigma projects and groups need to avoid doing this mistake.

Getting it right may not be easy, but picking the correct process for your map makes everything flow smoothly. Make sure to choose wisely!

Unclear focus in process mapping

At times, teams can lose their way while drawing the map. This may produce an unclear or messy map, meaning your map may be hard to understand by others.  A clear focus in process mapping matters a lot.

Also, it makes your path to better results weak and unkempt. Thus, be sharp and direct when making your map! Pick vital steps of the process only. Leave out minor details that do not help much with understanding the process.

Creating a “One Size Fits All” process map

Many people try to build a single process map. A single map cannot adequately convey the correct level of detail to multiple audiences. This is a big mistake. Each audience has different needs. A map that works great for one may not work well for another. Executives are not interested in the details that a line-manager needs at the tactical level and visa versa.

There is no such thing as a flawless process map. The goal should be to make a good, clear picture of how things are now and where you want them to go. Try out what seems best, watch carefully, then adjust as needed.

Trying to force every detail into your process map can slow down your progress. It’s like stuffing dirty clothes into an already full closet. Suddenly there’s no room for anything new! Focus on key steps first and add more details later if needed. Having different levels as previously discussed in this article helps mitigate this risk.

What are the Benefits of a Six Sigma Process Map?

Process mapping in Six Sigma projects offers numerous benefits including a better understanding of the existing process. Process maps are used to identify inefficiencies, resulting in increased productivity.

Customer satisfaction is enhanced due to accurate delivery as per expectations. The technique aids in cost reduction by identifying unnecessary steps or waste in processes. Lastly, it smoothens communication among team members and stakeholders by presenting a clear picture of workflows and responsibilities.

Improved understanding of the process

Process mapping lights the way in Six Sigma projects. It paints a clear picture of every step and shows how they link together. This helps to see where things go right or wrong. With this view, it is easier to spot waste and steps that do not add value.

An added benefit a process map provides is when it comes to business requirements.  By taking time to map out a Business Process  at Level 2, you can create a strong foundation for your requirements.  You will clearly define “What” is needed and can graphically show a picture of the process.  System designers are able to visualize the process in detail, and see the entire process end to end.

You learn about what each task does in reaching the end goal. Team members become more aware of their roles within the larger scheme of things.

Failing on paper is cheaper than failing in production.

Increased efficiency

Process maps in Six Sigma projects boost efficiency. They give a clear view of each step in a process. This makes it easy to find and get rid of steps that are not needed, or in creating a new process. It also helps make sure that every step is helpful and works well.

As this happens, the work gets done faster with fewer mistakes. So, using process mapping can help speed up work while cutting down on wrong results.

Enhanced customer satisfaction

Using process mapping in Six Sigma projects makes customers happier. It helps you see what the customer wants and needs. Then, you can make your product better to meet these wants and needs perfectly.

Process mapping also lets you keep an eye on how happy your customers are. This way, if something is wrong, you know right away. You can fix it before it becomes a big problem. As a result, your clients stay loyal to your business because they trust that their needs are being met well.

Cost reduction

Cutting costs is a big win in Six Sigma projects. A good process map can help save money. It shows where the team can cut out waste in a process and save time. Some say they have cut their costs by half using this tool.

This means your project could cost less to run, but still give great results. This helps the whole business thrive better, as it saves resources too!

Improved communication

Process mapping makes talking easier. It shows all the steps in a work plan. This visual aid helps team members see and understand each part of the process. They can also spot problems quicker this way.

Sharing these maps means less confusion and better teamwork on Six Sigma projects. Stronger communication leads to project success!


1. What is a six sigma process map?

The six sigma process map is a tool that provides a picture of the entire process to understand how it works better.

2. How do I create a Six Sigma Process Map?

To create a Six Sigma Process Map, you need deep knowledge of the type of processes involved. Then decide what kind of process maps to use and start making them.

3. Why do we need detailed process maps in Lean Six Sigma projects?

In Lean Six Sigma projects, detailed process maps help see waste and other things slowing down the work.

4. What does ‘the supplier – inputs –process– outputs – customer’ mean in mapping?

It’s called value stream mapping or high level process map used in Lean Six Sigma methodology; it visualizes how inputs from the supplier go through your business till they become outputs for customers.

5.Can enrolling in six sigma training help me make better Six sigma Process Maps?

Yes! The hands-on learning during your pass-your-Six-Sigma Green belt or black belt training areas helps you master creating effective detail oriented types-of-process-mappings needed for project improvement endeavors.

6.What’s an ideal way using two different types of process maps can aid my project?

Applying both high-level-process-map show less details but summarizing generalized view whereas (deeply)Detailed-Process-Maps paints exact clear panorama with pinchpoints/bottlenecks that provide radiant insights ultimately leading to ‘Ideal’ processes-management especially while working on new methodology-orientated-projects or re-modeling existing setups within Business/organization/platform.


In the end, process mapping in Six Sigma projects is key to make work better. It helps teams see what needs change and where they can cut waste. With right use of tools and steps, businesses can save money and time, while boosting customer happiness.

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