A process map is a tool for visualizing workflow and breaking down a complex process or problem into actionable steps.
90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text. (source)
Harnessing this power will enable you to solve problems faster and with clarity. Process maps are a core tool of Six-Sigma methodology, which began in manufacturing and is now used across all types of industries to reduce time, waste, and cost.
A process map may also be called a workflow map or network diagram.
Here is an example of a simple process map everyone can relate to:
Simple process maps are typically made of:
Nouns (inputs/outputs): The tangible product or effect
Verbs (actions): The actions needed to achieve the tangible product
Decisions: Typically yes/no. Will cause for multiple branches in process map.
By using a process map, you will:
Maximize your resources by knowing what is needed ahead of time, and visualizing the scope of your project.
Reduce waste by planning ahead, understanding the resources that are needed, and the steps from start to finish.
Save time because you know what to expect and how to communicate these expectations to your team. This will reduce time spent in planning sessions and will encourage clear and data-driven communication.
Define the scope to stay focused and prevent wasting time on other issues that are not directly related to your project.
Process maps are not just for work. From deciding if you should fix or replace an appliance in your home to where to take your family on vacation, process maps gather the data necessary to get the job done while limiting surprises and hangups.
PRO TIP: While breaking down a process is useful for attaining smaller goals in a timely fashion, keep processes between 5-9 steps. Our brains can only take in so much data at once. The purpose of the process map is to see the big picture and the steps that get you to your goal. Learn more about process maps on The Voluntary Life podcast.