Reduce Time, Waste, and Cost with Process Maps

process maps for project management

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 map
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_process_mapping

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.

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Hack Your Menial Tasks

Over the past few years, productivity has seeped its way into popular culture and the workplace. Sites like LifeHacker, and slews of new apps to simplify and synergize your calendar with your email, which then syncs up with your pedometer, that finally beeps to let you know it is time to stand up and have a stretch can be overwhelming.

The idea of having the tools to be more productive is empowering. We want to overhaul our routines and see results right away, but become frustrated when we set ourselves up for failure. How can we integrate these tools in a tangible and sustainable way?

The answer is slowly, steadily, and one step at a time.

Something that has been working for me (for three months and counting!) is an application called the Tomato Timer.

Tomato Timer

The average attention span can focus 100% on a task for about 25 minutes. Research shows that the best workflow for most people is to work for 25 mins, then take a 5 minute break to avoid burning out or overlooking important details.

Additionally, if you are a morning person (like me), complete the dreaded tedious tasks in the morning when you are at your best. Powering through these first thing will give you the motivation you need to tackle more difficult tasks before lunch, and prevent the dread of procrastination later in the afternoon when you crash.

If you are not a morning person, apply this strategy to the time of day where you feel the most motivated and can quickly knock out clearing that inbox, scheduling those meetings, or writing that blog post you have been procrastinating for a week or so. (This may or may not be an anecdotal circumstance.)

What other applications do you use to keep you on track? Tell me about your favorite productivity apps and routines in the comments.

Until next time,

Kayla
Sales Support Manager
MRI Chattanooga
http://www.mrichatt.com