November 9, 2018

Macro Level Process Map

When I begin the facilitation of a process mapping effort, the first map I create is the macro level map. The macro level is the “big picture.” We are looking for the main steps in a process. To make sure the team does not delve down into detail, I allow the map to have only 2 to 7 steps. If we get 8 or more steps, then we have to combine steps.

The macro map is largely for me, the facilitator. With this map, I can see the main steps that comprise the process. I can also see the scope of the process. Are we mapping world peace or is it something manageable?

Often there is discussion by team members as they try to construct the map. There might be disagreement on where the process starts or ends. I let this conversation run as long as it takes. The reason is that the team needs to come to consensus and this discussion is useful. At the end, there is an agreement on the main steps and a shared understanding of the process.

The macro map is also useful if we are in a hurry and need to get to the key issues fast. I will ask the team, are there one or two steps that are most problematic? Very often the answer is “yes.” If that is the case, we can then dive into detail on that step instead of mapping the whole process.

Below are some macro level maps.

Once in awhile, I can actually see issues at the macro level. I had one client have a rework step as a regular part of their manufacturing process because they built the system before all the customer requirements were obtained. When they finished getting the specifications, they then had to go back and do rework. That was the first time I ever saw that type of manufacturing process.

Our next entry will be on the the functional-activity level. Sometimes you hear these called swim lane maps. In Visio they are called cross-functional maps. At the functional-activity level, we go into more detail. Imagine you have a microscope and you now increased the magnification. That is the same concept in process analysis and it is at this level that most of the analysis is done.

If you find this useful, please check out our San Francisco public seminars on Process Mapping and Improvement here.