Decisions normally have a yes, no, or maybe. With each response comes a different action. The arrows show the flow of direction. These three basic shapes are mostly what you will ever need to create good process maps. You can find other shapes and meanings at this link or from many other places on the Internet.
Planning Tool #4: Process Maps
Planning any venture means that you must understand the processes that will be involved. In their simplest form, process maps are very clear diagrams for people to understand what to do when an event happens.
You can create process maps for free from http://www.diagram.ly/, a product of www.jgraph.com and these may be used openly without requesting further permission. It does not require registration. Note that you will have to save the file to your computer in case you want to look at it or work on it again at a later time. You may also save the file as a picture in a jpeg image or other formats.
The process map also includes different shapes.
• The oval is used to show the start and the end of a process.
• The rectangle is used to show the action or event that is taking place.
• The diamond is used to show a decision that has to be made.
Picture this scenario:
You and your friend, Carl, are running a small business which makes custom-made bracelets for people. A lady asks you to make a bracelet for her and you agree. You bump into Carl in the hallway and quickly share with him the order that came in. Carl tells you he’ll get to it in a few hours. Two days later, the lady calls and asks if her bracelet is ready. You call Carl and he says that he forgot but he’ll get right on it. But he asks for the details. You vaguely remember but aren’t sure because you thought Carl was handling it. This is a complete recipe for disaster.
How could this process be more professional? The steps in the process you would want to include are as follows (This is a very basic business process. In a process map, it might look like this):
1. Take the order from the lady.
2. Send an email order to Carl. Ask him to acknowledge receipt of the email.
3. If no email is received from Carl in 1 day, follow up with text message.
4. Receive email receipt from Carl.
5. Carl creates bracelet and emails you that it is ready for delivery.
6. If no email is received from Carl that states the product is ready for delivery, follow up in two days with a text message.
7. Acknowledge his email.
8. If bracelet is not ready, fire Carl. Don’t work with people who could ruin your business.
Note that there are two lanes in the process because it involves two people. They look like swim lanes and they are, in fact, called Swim Lanes. These make it very easy for each person to see at a glance what their responsibilities are. In the case of Carl, he knows that if he doesn’t acknowledge the order, he’s going to get an email from you.