A process map is a visual way to represent a process, and it can be helpful in every step of the DMAIC. Some of the users can be:
- Understand the process in the defining phase;
- During the measure phase to look at what input or output you should measure;
- In the Analyze phase because with a visual depiction of the process, you can look where rework occurs or where the bottleneck is;
- In the improvement phase, it can help visualize the process’s future state.
In image1, you can look at an example of a process map where the process estimates a new project. The process starts with the requirement collection step; next, you have the analysis and, finally, the action needed for the final offer creation.
In the image2, you can look at the main object of the project map (some other objects and some software can use slightly different shapes).
SIPOC stands for Supplier, Input, Process, Output, and Customer, and it’s a sort of “big table” that helps systematically identify these elements. The goal of this tool is to visualize the process better and define the boundary of the process. It can be helpful for more phases of de DMAIC.
The step to implement the SIPOC are:
- Identify the process and depict in the “process colum”, it helps to define the boundary of the process;
- Define the output of the process;
- Define the customers;
- Define the input of the process;
- Define the supplier.
In the image3, you can look at an example of SIPOC
Value Stream Map
Value Stream Map is a visual tool that depicts the flow of value in a process and helps to remove the waste. In the measure phase, you can use it to represent the actual process and the future once after optimization.
If you look at the image4 in this Map, you can look at:
- Information flow: This is the flow of information. For example, the Client asks for some product is one information, and the approved request you start to work on is another information;
- Product flow: This is the process needed to make the product. Maybe you have the analyst team that analyzes the work, then the developer, the tester, and so on. In each step of the process, you can add the Cycle Time (the time needed for the stage), the Change Over Time (the time required to change from one product to the another), and the Uptime (the time that each step work). You also have in the triangle the number of raw materials or work in progress;
- Time Ladder: The time needed for every step of the process plus the waiting time between one step and the other. You can look at the two sums of process time and waiting time at the end of the time ladder.
You can use it to look at the bottleneck of the process (maybe the one day between each step) and depict another process where you try to reduce this time. It is helpful because you can easily view the waste in a single image.
Example: Looking at an IT example about release management (the top rectangle), we can say that the customer (the fabric plot) asks for new features implementation of our software. We start the process only on the approved one (the other fabric plot). For making it simple, we assume that we have a work in progress of 2 requests in every step (the triangle plot). We can say that the phase of our project is: Analysis, Development, Test, and Deploy, and each phase requires 0,5 days. We have one day of waiting time between one stage and the other. In this example, with an easy image, we can easily see that the problem stays in the high waiting time, and we need to lower it. By how much and how? Depends on the process, the company, and so on.
In Image5 you can see the principal object that you can use in a Value Stream Map.
For the exam you need to remember that:
- Process mapping, Sipoc, and value stream map are all tools to define and visualize the process;
- Value stream map focus on the flow of value;
- Process mapping focus on the step of the process;
- SIPOC helps to define the boundary of a project, it’s beneficial in defining the scope.