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Process Mapping--Efficiency

Process Mapping--Efficiency

Author: Kate Eskra

Recognize important aspects of process mapping.

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Source: Process Map by Kate Eskra

Video Transcription

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Hi, welcome to economics. This is Kate. This tutorial is titled "Process Mapping- Efficiency." As always, my key terms are in red and my examples are in green.

So in this tutorial we'll be talking about what process mapping is and why it's used. I'll identify for you the symbols that are used in process mapping, which are ovals, boxes or rectangles, diamonds, and circles. So a process map is simply a workflow diagram developed to document activities across a process. So going back to even a process-- a process is just simply a series of steps that we go through in order to complete a task, or achieve some kind of specific purpose, so how do things get done?

And our daily lives involve a lot of processes, either at work, or as a consumer. So when we take a process and we break it down into various steps and then we show it pictorially, that's how we're making a process map. So the first thing that you would do to start is you would write out a very detailed narrative of the process and all of the steps involved. Then you would turn the steps into a pictorial diagram using the symbols that I showed you at the beginning, and here are those symbols again.

So an oval is used to start and end the process, so in the beginning you would have some kind of input, or some kind of reason why this process needs to be started. And then at the end you would have the outputs, or just the end result of the process.

A box or a rectangle is going to show every single task or activity performed in the process, and generally speaking, only one arrow leaves each box. There can be sometimes more than one arrow in to a box, but leaving each step of the process is usually only one arrow.

And then a diamond is used where some kind of decision is required along the way, usually it's in the form of a yes or no question.

And then a circle with either a letter or number can be used to show a break in the process map.

OK, so this is not a specific one. I just wanted to show you what this would look like in this tutorial here. So here we have our oval to start. These are the inputs, so for whatever reason, some kind of action is required because the process is starting with this oval. So the first step in the process, the first task is completed, and that's shown by a rectangle, and then we come to a yes or no question where some decision needs to be made.

So I've shown you here that there are two ways this can go. If the answer is "yes," let's say we continue on with this step and then the next step, and then the next step, and then the next step, and then it comes to an end. Well, if the response to this question is "no," apparently that takes us right to the end. So you can see that the "yes" and "no" tend to branch off in to different ways, in to different tasks.

So why is it that we would use process mapping ever? Well, it helps people and firms to break down exactly how things are getting done, and so it gives people a much better understanding of processes. And it can really help to illustrate any areas at all along the way that might need improvement. So many processes are very complex, and it would help to evaluate these holistically.

So right now it can be used in so many different applications, but today the majority of processes are actually not documented in this way. It's a relatively new process, but it is really dynamic, and so where we are starting to see some firms especially use it is for areas of continuous improvement. It's used again, you'll see this word "holistic" a lot, because it's used very well in looking at the overall picture and holistic evaluation of processes. It can be used for efficiency evaluation a lot.

It's especially being used in holistic operational assessments of efficiency, but again it would be used in efficiency because you could see visually in that diagram-- are we doing this the most efficient way possible? Or is there a way that we can cut out some of these inner steps? Or in a way that we can avoid this roadblock? And it's also being used in developing and analyzing solutions that are sustainable.

So in microeconomics remember we study the individual firm and the individual consumer. Well, we know that firms and individuals are involved in processes every day. So a consumer decision-making flowchart can actually show how an individual ultimately makes a purchase decision. So for example, I'm really hungry, I want to order pizza-- what are the steps involved in that consumer's ultimate decision as to where to order the pizza, how much they're willing to pay for the pizza, and then whether they're a repeat customer again. That would be an example of a consumer decision-making flow chart.

A firm flowchart can really document any process at all involved in the line of business, so two examples I thought of are maybe a firm makes a flow chart for their process of scheduling appointments, or for taking an order, and that way they could again evaluate "is this the most efficient way, are we missing something here?"

So in this tutorial we talked about how process mapping is a pictorial representation of tasks that make up a process. You saw the symbols that are used in process mapping. And we talked about why process mapping is useful and how it's currently being used. Thank you so much for listening. Have a great day.

Terms to Know
Process Map

A workflow diagram developed to document activities across a process.