Process Mapping with Remote Teams to Secure your Business

To maximise the quality of standard work, process mapping is a powerful approach to documenting and providing a broad understanding across teams and departments. It has many benefits including:

  1. Improving the quality of the execution through improved knowledge
  2. Sharing understanding to cross-train teams
  3. Providing a baseline to improve from
  4. Makes the identification of waste or issues much easier to identify

In the current crisis, it’s critical to be supporting an effective remote working team, and even more important when team members drop out for a time with sickness. But how to start mapping when you are already undertaking social distancing and remote working? Get used to Webex, Zoom or whatever your preferred app will be, and ensure teams have the right hardware to support mapping sessions. Laptop with a camera, microphone or headset). Consider the use of apps like OneNote or Notability that allow you to whiteboard ideas and brainstorming (Notability also has some strong screen sharing functionality if you need it too, and it will allow you to make a PowerPoint, present it and draw all over it). Plan your Video calls out. Break them into chunks, don’t expect to video call for the entire day, people need breaks to decompress and think about things. People are probably going to struggle to focus after 45-60 mins. Record the sessions – make them succinct so they are not too long and avoid going off on tangents. To that end, if you are teaching rather than interacting, have everyone mute themselves – get them to use the chat function to raise questions or provide input. It makes the session cleaner and less clunky.  When you start:

  1. Identify the issue or gaps in the team knowledge – a good moderated discussion to start to define your ‘burning platform’
  2. Understand your voice of the customer and their critical customer requirements – is that customer internal or external – could they be on the video for this part to help form this information? If you know-how, a SIPOC with this stage can be a great tool for larger interdepartmental processes
  3. Figure out Boundaries of the particular process – where it begins and ends or this part of it begins and ends.
  4. Determine and sequence steps – in a face to face environment, coloured post-its are great, but you can do this with coloured boxes and handwritten on a virtual whiteboard, then have each team member give feedback and comment one at a time and live. Also, they can identify tools like checklists that get used at certain points. This can be the beginnings of a shared folder of tools to support the process (standardised tools)
  5. Draw the basic chart – it might be worth doing this offline from the whiteboard session, – I use Lucid chart. Its easy to use and powerful, and cloud-based, so sharing and collaboration are really good.
  6. Present back to the team –  on a video call. Take time to walk through the map, use the comments function in your video call to collect the team’s comments, and then work through and fine-tune the final process.

It’s important to recognise: you can’t disappear into a room with the team and reappear 2 hours later with a map. The new ways of working mean you need to be efficient with your time, clear and focused on the task at hand. This type of process mapping will form over several sessions of very focused work, and therefore be some of your best work.

Daniel Giles
Lean and Business Improvement Specialist

If you are interested in any of Daniel’s Lean Training workshops in Perth or reading about his background, please visit this link.