Is Process Mapping the Same Thing as Flow Chart?

Is Process Mapping the Same Thing as Flow Chart?

For better identification of the layoffs throughout the activities of the processes, having the flow vision is very important. But what is the best tool for different types of processes?

It is often said that office processes are invisible because the main product is information. Without visibility, the tracking process activities and identifying wastes are more difficult than in a factory, where wastes such as in-process inventory or scrap are more easily seen.

To improve administrative processes, we first, have to 'see' the flow so that we can get the waste through the activities.

For this function, we at the Kaizen Institute prefer to use Process Mapping.

We believe that this tool represents the best way to bring visibility to the flow of information. Once visible, we were able to identify wastes inherent to each activity with greater ease.

In the photo above, the yellow squares represent executed activities, while the small pink squares represent the wastes and problems. Each line represents a function or position that participates in the process. Each activity must be associated with the function that executes it.

Although it looks like a flowchart if looked at from afar, there are fundamental differences between the two as we look more closely.

In the table below is a summary of the main differences between one and the other:




Focus of tool

Define a standardized sequence of steps for all possible situations in the flow

Critical analysis of the most frequent flow or flow of project interest

Purpose of the flow

Do not allow the flow to follow a defined path

Search for Continuous Flow

Relevance of who performs the activity

Little important

Very important

Identification of rework

Difficult, in symbology, the rework mingles with the correct flow

Easy, through specific visual management that emphasizes the presence of rework

Analysis of times of activity

Not the scope of tool

Measurement of the time of accomplishment of the activity

Ease of indicating how the activity is done

Possible but causes visual pollution

High (system screen indication, forms, etc.)

Degree of detail

Higher (greater detailing for familiarization with the micro-activities of a process)

Medium (greater focus on the flow of value to enable critical process analysis)

Focus on waste identification



Direction of flow

Multiple senses (flow can go back and forth)

Only one sense (left to right)

Summarizing the table and bringing it into our day-to-day, the flowchart is a good tool to use as a support for in-house activities of the departments to ensure that all flow possibilities will be adequately addressed for formal system records corporate or standard document and for designing Workflow systems.

Process Mapping is a good tool to use in defining roles and responsibilities, in the vision of the process as a whole, in the easy identification of wastes, in the identification of bottlenecks through flow convergences and as a tool for the critical analysis of activities. We will explain in the next posts a structured step by step to create this tool.

In conclusion, the purpose of this article is to help show the potential of each tool, so that we can choose the best one according to the objective we have in mind. After all, to sink a nail it is much better to use a hammer than a plier!

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