Friday, October 3, 2008

Process Map? What Process Map?

By Elaine Lauritzen
One of the things my husband and I like to do is hook up the trailer and hit the road.  We’ll drive across country, sampling regional specialties, shopping local markets, and finding places to fly his ultralight, or we’ll head to the beach and park alongside the ocean, watching the dolphins and sea lions play while we enjoy a leisurely breakfast.  Regardless of which direction we head, there is one thing we always make sure we have with us, our map.  Granted, the map is now a GPS that gets pretty bossy if we don’t turn just where it wants us to, but like the old American Express commercial says, we don’t leave home without it.
Our journeys are much different than those of Columbus, Lewis and Clark, Ponce de Leon, Magellan, etc.  We always carefully plan where we’re going after studying our map and reading of where others have gone and what they have done.  They bravely left their known world to face the unknown.  They may have been seeking glory, riches, or simply adventure.  They explored, discovered, sometimes battled, took, gave, and mapped.  Think about the mapping they did.  Have you ever wondered or considered how many people have used or benefitted from that effort?  I suppose lives have been saved, or perhaps lost, based on the maps and their accuracy or lack thereof.  Certainly lives have been changed as people used maps to relocate, find others, or conduct business.  In reviewing our country’s founding, it’s fascinating to see how often the battle was directed and won or lost based almost entirely on how familiar or unfamiliar the leaders were with the lay of the land, and how often they risked huge outcomes on the information of someone who knew how the ridge, river, gorge, or valley was laid out.  Similar to these geographical maps, we have maps in OIT that we use, and while our efforts and outcomes don’t reach the level of risking life and liberty others have, we still can gain huge benefit from understanding and using the maps we have.
  • defines map as follows: Noun: a representation of items showing them in their respective forms, sizes, and relationships according to some convention of representation 
  • Idiom: put on the map, to bring into the public eye; make known, famous, or prominent
So what maps are we talking about in OIT?  I’ll give you a hint – this newsletter is all about process . . .  Yep, we have process maps.  We even have a process roadmap.  So what are these and where can you find them?
Process maps are visual representations of the process flow, both at a high-level and a detailed step-level.  The process maps are part of the basic process documentation package that is created as the process is formally reviewed and documented.  The process documentation packages will be available in eRoom in the OIT Policies, Processes, and Procedures room, in the All Formal Processes folder.  Each process package will be in its own folder from there. 
The process roadmap is an inventory of all processes that have been identified at the OIT-level.  It provides detail about what the process is intended to do, who has accountability for ensuring the process does what it should, how the processes are related to each other, and the order in which we will focus formal process review efforts.  This roadmap is also in eRoom in the OIT Policies, Processes, and Procedures room, in the All Formal Processes folder.  It is currently an Excel spreadsheet with all kinds of columns and rows.  Quite frankly, we’re still working on how best to build, display, and use this map.  
Process relationships are complicated and our formal process work is still very early-on, so watch for ongoing updates and revisions of these maps while we explore and learn.  Whenever we find more details, more information, or old mistakes perpetuated, we will update and fix them.  We’ll do our best to keep everyone informed and able to navigate.  We invite you to come to eRoom and review the maps that already exist, give us feedback and information, and help us make the documentation even better.
Have you ever followed a Mapquest direction list that took you to an unexpected dead-end?  I have.  Even our new, fancy-schmancy GPS sometimes gets us to the wrong location or takes a really round-about path.  We hope our process maps never do that to us, but it may happen.  Whenever it does, please make sure to let us know.  Contact those you know who are part of a process review team.  Be part of a process review team. Contact a Process Navigator.  Help us make the journey better for those who follow in our path.

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