Process maps are a great ways for teams to see the work they do and find bottlenecks to eliminate or areas for improvement. Teams may use the colored index cards or Post-It-Notes method to create a simple step-by-step description of how to do their process. With a pen or marker, they can also use the steps outlined below to develop either a high level process flow chart or a more detailed work flow.
Start by writing down every step team members can think of in the process on an index card or post-it-note turned short-height or width-wise (a.k.a. landscape style).
After members can no longer think of any new steps, begin to arrange the steps in order that they should flow in the process in a horizontal path. Processes with less than 10 steps can be arranged in a vertical path if desired. With index cards, arrange them on a table top. If using post-it-notes, it is helpful to stick them on a dry-erase marker board so arrows can be drawn between them using the correct type of markers.
Once the steps are in order, check to see if there is a missing step before the first one or after the last one written. Add cards or notes for those missing steps. Then look at all the other steps in sequence and determine if there are missing steps between any of the steps in order to add those as well.
Determine if there are any decisions to be made during the process. If there are, add those as a decision point on a card or note. If using index cards, either select another color for decisions and/or turn the card where it is taller and thinner than the others (a.k.a. portrait style). If using post-it-notes, either select another color for decisions and/or turn the note where it is diamond shape or taller. Decision points should be worded as short Yes/No questions (preferably under 6 words). Have the Yes steps proceed out of the top of the card or diamond and the No steps from the bottom if using a horizontal path. If using a vertical process path, have the Yes continue downward and the No go out one of the sides of the diamond.
Once all the steps and decision points are in place, the process map can be converted into a nicer looking document using either software for that purpose or a plastic template to draw the process map. Connect the steps and decisions using arrows to indicate the directional flow of the steps. If the team has to remove the cards from the room in order to convert to a single document, write a number on each to indicate the sequence they should appear as steps on the final document.
Teams may utilize the steps above to create a process flow chart or a detailed work flow. This method can be used by any team and only requires index cards or Post-It-Notes and something to write with to create a step-by-step chart of how to do anything related to that specific team.