The importance of process mapping for manufacturing
Identifying weak points using process mapping is the first step to be taken to optimize them. But for that, it is necessary a mapping of processes well done so that the analysis is effective and the problems can, in fact, be solved.
The issue is that, as it is considered a “secondary” process, the mapping ends up not being done or carried out in an incomplete way – resulting in a partial and incomplete notion about the company’s procedures and, consequently, inefficient management.
Despite being a complex process, it is possible to map your company’s procedures in a practical and objective way. Want to know how? Follow this article from the Audaces blog and learn about all the benefits of this management tactic:
What is a process mapping?
Simply put, process mapping is a technique for analyzing, understanding, and describing the operation and flow of a given process. That is, it is to understand exactly the origin, development, and completion of a procedure.
To delve further into this concept, it is first necessary to understand the very concept of “process”, right? Well, a process is nothing more than a set of activities that have a certain order and that demand specific and defined resources (time, raw materials, inputs, etc.).
The role of process modeling is precise to understand what these resources are and in what exact order these activities must happen so that the result is as effective and profitable as possible.
Take, for example, the cutting of fabrics in a garment. In the mapping, the steps involved in the process will be described – from preparation to completion, the equipment used (usually a cutting room), the standard amount of time, the responsible employees, and other essential characteristics.
Who does the process mapping?
Normally, the mapping of the numerous processes of a company, industry, or clothing is done by a multidisciplinary team formed by at least one specialist in the subject, the person responsible for the audited sector, and some employees.
This ensures that there are as many perspectives on the same process as possible, as well as making the job description easier (since it is normal for employees who deal with these activities in their routines to know better how they work).
In the same way, this facilitates and speeds up the process, since, in a company, there are many processes that occur concurrently.
So, for the mapping to happen as quickly and efficiently as possible, it is important that as many people as possible are involved, as long as this does not interfere with the operation.
What is the purpose of process mapping?
We already know what process mapping is, but what is it for? As seen, the main objective of this procedure is to bring clarity and strategic awareness about the actions that take place within a business, however, in addition to that, there are many benefits, which we list below:
Control over all operation processes;
More precise and assertive indicators;
Provides perspective and strategic insight into procedures;
Standardization – the process always happens the same way;
Improves communication between sectors, as there is clarity on how each one works;
It encourages debate and the collection of feedback from employees;
Optimizes and streamlines processes, eliminating production bottlenecks;
Visually communicate the details of a process;
Contributes to the improvement of productive efficiency.
The achievement of these benefits starts from the understanding that the mapping, by itself, is not enough to leverage the numbers of your business – it is necessary to use it together with other management and monitoring strategies to maximize its effects.
How important is process mapping for industry and production?
In the industrial environment, having control over operational processes is even more important, precisely because it is an environment where the rules of regulation and validity are extremely rigid, as well as the need for standardization at all stages – after all, it is about large-scale production, regardless of the size of the industry.
In this context, clarity about each process is not only a strategy for eliminating invisible costs and optimizing production efficiency, but also a minimum requirement for all industry owners who wish to comply with Brazilian legislation.
However, this does not mean that there is no room for improvement in mapping processes in the industrial environment. On the contrary, in this case, having a solid and efficient mapping process becomes a great competitive advantage – in addition to allowing you to earn more, spending less.
Know the types of process mapping
Like most complex methods, process mapping can be performed in different ways depending on the ultimate goal of the strategy, the type of company/industry, and other factors. Check out the main models and their features:
BPMN (Business Process Model and Notation)
BPMN (Business Process Model and Notation) is the standard methodology for mapping a company’s processes. It uses standardized symbols to describe the flow of a process and the interdependence of its procedures.
It is a very accurate form of mapping, since it starts from a standardized base, which is precisely one of the objectives of this strategy – so, regardless of the internal flow of employees, everyone will be able to interpret the information presented by the BPMN.
The turtle diagram, in turn, is a simplified form of mapping whose main objective is to visually indicate the main characteristics of a process, namely:
Inputs: inputs, raw materials and everything that will be processed, including data and information;
Outputs: the final result of the process, what it generates (finished product/service or not);
Resources: the tools needed to execute the process (machines, employees, software, etc.);
How: are the procedures, rules, documentation and all procedural inputs necessary for the execution of the process;
Who: the team responsible for executing the process, including the skills and competencies needed to make it successful;
Indicators: the data and indicators needed to assess the effectiveness of the process.
It is a simpler and less standardized methodology than BPMN, but it works very well for dissemination, as it is easy and objective.
The flowchart, os its name implies, is a method whose main objective is to represent the flow of a process through conventional symbols (but not necessarily standardized, unlike BPMN). In fact, the use of symbols is the most notorious feature of the flowchart.
Like the turtle diagram, the flowchart is a visual method, however, unlike it, it is more operational, which means that it can be used in the vast majority of companies, especially those in the services, data, information and other non-physical products. ]
The flowchart map is a version of the flowchart adapted to the industrial environment. In it, the flowchart is mounted on a map of the production line and the target process is described as it moves through it.
It is the ideal process mapping method for garments and models of Industries 4.0, as it presents a clear and integrated view of the production line.
What are the process mapping steps?
Regardless of the mapping model chosen, they all have essential steps that must be followed in order to generate the best final result. Discover them below:
Define what the target process will be
The first step to start mapping a process is, of course, to choose which process will be the target of the action. In small companies, industries and clothing, this selection does not necessarily need to consider any element, given the reduced number of processes.
For medium and large companies, it is essential that some selection criteria are developed, the main one being the number of bottlenecks, problems and rework that a process has presented in recent months.
This is usually indicative that there are flaws in some of the steps in this process that need to be understood and modified – so always choose to start with processes of this nature.
Make a graphical representation of the process mapping (as is)
This is where mapping methodologies begin to be applied. Once the mapping model that will be used is defined, gather the team so that it is understood and described exactly as it currently happens (as is or as it is, in free translation).
It is very common that, at this stage, you already start thinking about possible solutions to the problems encountered, but it is important to keep in mind that process mapping is a descriptive strategy and that other strategic actions will be necessary to evaluate the changes to be taken. , their execution schedule and the impacts they will have on the company’s production routine.
Evaluate the effectiveness of the process (to be)
Once the process is mapped, it’s time to evaluate it. This is where dialogue and strategic business vision come into play, both to collect information from the employees responsible for the analyzed procedure and to define what measures will be taken so that that process happens in an ideal way (to be).
Keep a constant watch
Controlling the flow of projects is not a one-time task. This is because, as businesses change (either with the emergence of new trends, investment in technologies or adoption of new processes, for example), the need to monitor them constantly reappears – and must be met!
Therefore, anticipate and establish a periodicity in mapping updates – so both you and the team responsible for this strategy will have time to prepare to execute it quickly and in the most assertive way possible.
Bet on automation in process mapping
The advent of Artificial Intelligence, especially in the industrial sector, has enabled a true revolution in production processes and control over them. Today, it is already possible to map entire production stages, in addition to identifying problems in real time, facilitating decision-making and eliminating bottlenecks and rework.
In this sense, automation presents itself as a great ally not only for process mapping, but for management as a whole!
Process mapping tools
- Now that you have everything about process mapping, we have separated some tool tips that can be useful in the mapping process and periodic monitoring of your business procedures, check it out:
- BPI (Business Process Improvement) software: these are tools specifically aimed at improving business processes;
- Power BI: Business Intelligence software that helps in the analysis and control of strategic data, goals and the like;
- Management software: these management tools are able to provide accurate and real-time information about the production status of each product or service in real time, customer management and other essential functions to keep processes up to date;
- Checklists and spreadsheets: are traditional methods of control, but they offer a way to access specific data (although not fully secure and automated).
Process mapping is part of a reality often forgotten by companies and neglected by industries and clothing. However, it is one of the fundamental strategies to control production, identify bottlenecks and eliminate errors in the production process.
In addition to being a strong management ally, mapping processes also unites teams, as it provides clarity on the procedures of all sectors of the company. The best thing is that there are several ways to implement this technique, depending on the reality of your business and which method is most coherent for your segment.
As it is a complex procedure (but not difficult to be carried out), process mapping needs to follow some fundamental steps that, when properly applied, guarantee an assertive and beneficial result for the business.
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