Lung Cancer Screening Improvement Collaborative
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Recommendations Follow-Up Improvement Collaborative

Developing a Process Map


A process map contains a series of actions or steps that are followed to achieve a particular outcome. In the workplace, we might only be familiar with process steps where we have responsibility, making it difficult to understand the entire workflow from beginning to end. We can use a method called process mapping to visualize all the existing steps of a process and discover areas for improvement.


Types of Process Maps 

High Level Process Map 

Initially, you may want to start with a simple high-level process map, which consists of 6-8 basic steps that generally represent the process. This process map quickly outlines the scope of the project and helps identify key stakeholders involved in the process steps. This can help you provide insight into the project and determine which departments or work groups will need representation on the project team. The different shapes indicate different functionality: the ovals represent the process start and end points, and the square boxes represent process steps.  



Detailed process map 

To expand on the high-level process map, you need to conduct interviews and complete gemba walks, during which you observe the process. By learning more about additional steps and variation within the process, you can develop a detailed process map. This type of process map outlines all the steps in the process and enables you to identify steps where there are opportunities to improve efficiency. In addition to process start and end points and process steps, you may include decision points, which are represented by diamond shapes.  

A diagram of a process

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Cross-functional/Swim Lane Diagram 

A cross-functional diagram, often called a swim lane diagram, is a process flowchart that includes indication of ownership of responsibilities. The entire diagram can be thought of as a swimming pool, with each horizontal lane representing a specific individual, team, or work group. Each lane contains the applicable steps owned by that individual or group, and arrows that cross over between lanes indicate transfer of responsibility between steps.  



A diagram of a process

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Tomkins, Kandice Garcia (2022). Processes. ImPower Video.

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