A process map is a picture of a person's 'journey' through a particular health or social care service.
They can be used to understand the experience of care from the perspective of people using a service and to identify issues, gaps and duplication in the process.
A process map gets people talking and listening and gives everyone a broader perspective of what is happening. For example, it can capture how long or how often a person has to wait, how many visits they make to hospital and how many different members of staff they meet.
- Time to do: up to 4 hours
- Staff: at least 1 facilitator and 1 scribe
- Cost: £
- Equipment: large roll of paper, sticky notes, pens, sufficient wall or table space for people to access the paper easily
- small groups
- large groups
How to do it
- Agree the scope of the process to be mapped. Is it covering an entire journey at a high level, or focusing on key aspects in more detail?
- Identify participants who represent each stage of the journey, including users of a service, carers, clinical and support staff.
- 'Walk' the service user's 'journey' (either physically or virtually). Identify all the stages and parts of the service that they will experience.
- At the workshop, display a large sheet or roll of paper in a prominent and accessible place, either on a wall or a long table
- Participants use sticky notes to record individually, and from their own perspective, each step in the process. Concentrate on what happens most of the time. Keep the steps small.
- Participants stick the notes to the paper in turn. Duplicated steps should be placed under one another.
- Capture issues or questions from participants on a separate flipchart, as they will prove very valuable later.
- Wherever possible, use photos and pictures of places, objects, staff and equipment. This brings to life your representation of 'how things are'.
- The facilitator should go through the entire process at the end to check nothing has been overlooked.
- Analysis of the process map involves asking questions like:
- How many steps are in the process? Do we need all of them?
- Are we doing the steps in the right order?
- How co-ordinated is the person's journey?
- Is the right/best person involved at each step?
- What information do we give to people at what stage? Is the information useful?
- How many times is the person or their documentation passed from service, or member of staff, to another?
- What is the approximate time of, or between, each step?
- Where are possible delays and why?
- How many steps do not 'add value' for patients?
- Where are the problems for patients and staff?
- Once participants share a common understanding of the problems with a current process, they should generate jointly agreed solutions, and capture these on a different flipchart.
- Relatively quick and cheap to use
- Includes different perspectives and encourages shared interpretation
- Generates many ideas for improvement
- Enables team building
- Builds shared understanding of the issues, which reduces resistance to proposals for change
- Can be difficult for people who were not part of the discussion to appreciate the detail