Do you understand the differences between business process mapping & workflow diagrams? More importantly, are you aware of how both can be used in order to streamline your operations, reduce redundant work tasks and improve your manufacturing productivity rates? Both of these are excellent tools to eliminate lost time and needless processes. One focuses on outlining a company’s processes and eliminating redundant operations, while the other focuses on identifying the least convoluted method to transport work from one production work cell to the next. So, how can both of these tools help to improve how work is done?
Business Process Mapping: The idea behind business process mapping involves assigning variables to given work tasks and plotting how work moves from one department to the next and from one employee to the next. Its entire focus is on eliminating redundant and time consuming operations that do nothing more than add time. Companies that use this tool aim to reduce how much time it takes to complete a given work task or to eliminate it altogether.
Business process mapping works by tracking a customer’s initial inquiry and how that inquiry travels amongst various internal departments. By reducing the time it takes to complete these tasks, companies are able to reduce their product’s lead times and improve their overall service to customers. The best approach is to start from that initial customer request and not only map out the processes needed to provide the customer a quotation, but to track how that purchase order moves through the same process once an order is placed.
Workflow Diagrams: Sometimes referred to as "spaghetti diagrams”, workflow diagrams track how physical parts move within a production process. This is done by tracking transit times on physical parts and their movement from one production work cell to the next. Since a product’s cycle times include the transit times between these work cells, reducing the time it takes to move these parts will reduce the product’s overall cycle time. Most companies start by mapping out their existing workflow diagram. They itemize the various stations on the production floor. Next, they track the time it takes to move physical parts from one cell to the next. Finally, they then develop a new workflow diagram and try to reduce their transit times.
Both business process mapping and workflow diagrams can be used to improve a company’s operations. The idea is to focus on those work tasks that add time. Concentrate on isolating redundant operations and work functions. Track the amount of time needed to complete tasks and move physical parts from one location to the next. A number of my customers have questioned the validity of using these tools. In terms of manufacturing, some of my customers rationalize that a few seconds here and there shouldn’t amount to much of an impact. Unfortunately in manufacturing, a few seconds turns into minutes and then hours when one analyzes the impact of lost time over weeks and months.
To read more about business process mapping, please read: Small Manufacturers Making Custom Parts Need Business Process Mapping
To read more about this subject matter, please read: Reducing Production Work Cell Transit Times with Workflow Diagrams