So, you want to map your organization’s processes? Make sure you can see the forest and the trees

Most people see the forest or the trees, only a few are able to see both.

“Forest/Trees” issues trip up many process mappers as well as the people they subsequently try to talk to.

This problem was solved a long time ago in the construction industry where it is routine on a $100MM project to be able to show the entire project at virtually any level of summary (single time line, lowest level of detail consisting of individual tasks by worker by hour of the day).

Same for costing relating to the project, same for resource availability/ loading by skill category.

The reason we don’t see this in office/services process mapping is you need a lot of information to build a process map.  TIme, cost and resources are not the only variables.

A small subset of what is required for O/S process mapping  includes:

  • Organizational structure hierarchy comprising divisions, sections, units, unit staffing and physical locations;
  • Product work breakdown structure (systems, sub-systems, assemblies, units, parts and how paperwork for these is handled);
  • Initiatives, projects, programmes;
  • Properties of production equipment;
  • Organizational Policy/Procedure;
  • Human resource inventories (job descriptions, resource availability/loading);
  • State/Federal Law Texts (at times thousands of clauses);
  • Regulatory agency accreditation/certification clauses

The key to success in process mapping is to have all of this information consolidated in one place, preferably in digital format (otherwise you have to encode key words at images and your choice of key words for detailed lookups will ALWAYS be wrong).

Do not engage complex mapping processes without first building a knowledgebase.

Question: How can a facilitator go in and in one day have a 50-100 step “as-is” process map built, compiled and piano playing live in front of a live audience?

Answer: Image all of the organization’s forms currently in use for the flow you are trying to build, put the forms in a “bucket” and then as you build your process map, drag out and attach forms to the process map nodes.

When you compile the flow, the nodes post and the form images pop up at the nodes.

Your audience can then argue about the steps, the order of the steps, who should perform them and what forms are needed at each step. You can make changes on the fly, re-compile and re-play.

People today want instant gratification – make it happen and you increase customer satisfaction.


Management consultant and process control engineer (MSc EE) with a focus on bridging the gap between operations and strategy in the areas of critical infrastructure protection, connect-the-dots law enforcement investigations, healthcare services delivery, job shop manufacturing and b2b/b2c/b2d transactions. (C) 2010-2018 Karl Walter Keirstead, P. Eng. All rights reserved. The opinions expressed here are those of the author, and are not connected with Jay-Kell Technologies Inc, Civerex Systems Inc. (Canada), Civerex Systems Inc. (USA) or CvX Productions.
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