Sometimes you have to break something down into the smallest possible pieces before you can make it right. Process mapping is one of the first major steps when adopting six sigma, so it’s something business leaders should learn to love. Depicting workflow and processes in a visual format sets the stage for defining, understanding and improving them.

Overview: What are hyper micro process maps?

There are a lot of factors that influence process mapping and several different ways to represent this information in the actual map. In most cases, there are also multiple levels or “tiers” of process mapping that help analysts organize and use the information.

The first and highest level of mapping is usually called macro. This is basically an overview of the entire process or workflow in question with a handful of items. Macro is followed by mini, which breaks down processes into activities. Micro maps break down these activities into tasks and hyper micro break down tasks into definite actions.

The term “hyper micro” describes the most granular type of process map possible in a given situation. The actual scope of the chart or number of items depends on the process being analyzed.

3 benefits of hyper micro process maps

There’s plenty of good reasons why process mapping is one of the first mandatory steps in the “Define” stage of DMAIC.

1. Remove the mystery

Mystery might be good in personal relationships, but it’s not useful in business management. The real power of hyper micro process maps is demystifying even the most complex or esoteric process. Spelling everything out in plain actionable steps from start to finish means there’s nothing left to the imagination.

2. Clarity for leadership

Unfortunately, it’s very easy for leaders to become detached from the granular processes and procedures in their workplace. Another big benefit of creating and analyzing a micro process map is to get informed about the details of the production process. This can help put things in perspective and may even change the ways leaders prioritize in their decision making.

3. Expose problems through audits

Since comprehensive analysis and auditing is necessary to create a hyper micro process map, it can also unveil a lot of problems, abuses or inconsistencies that might impact productivity. Businesses should use this opportunity to address obvious holes in the ship.

Why are hyper micro process maps important to understand?

Process maps can be powerful tools in the right hands, but using them incorrectly can be worse than not using them at all

Theory and practice

Process maps need to reflect reality and not ideals. Even if a process is supposed to work a certain way, there should still be full observation, auditing and data collection to see what’s really going on. Sometimes things work on paper and then fail in practice.

Consistency is key

It’s important to be consistent when creating a process map. This is for internal symmetry when graphing the results because you want the chart to help readers understand the data rather than confuse them. The thoroughness of analysis also needs to be consistent, otherwise there will be major blind-spots in the map.

Don’t get lost

Even though hyper micro maps list every single task and detail, there is a reasonable limit on verbiage. Don’t get too caught up in explaining mundane tasks that you lose sight of the map’s real goals.

An industry example of a hyper micro process map

An ice cream and dessert parlor has been serving local customers a full menu for over a decade. Over the last year, management has noted a sharp rise in customer complaints regarding their orders. Since they aren’t sure exactly where the problems are coming from they have to go through every step of each stage, which means following a micro process map.

This map covers every action from the moment the customer places an order to the moment they receive the finished product. This includes entering the order into the store’s computer system, access to the order by kitchen staff and every other subsequent action leading to fulfillment. Specific employees and roles are attached to items so there is no doubt who should do what and when.

3 best practices when thinking about hyper micro process maps

These best practices can help companies get the most out of their mapping efforts.

1. Choose mapping style carefully

There are several different ways to represent processes and workflow graphically. Since hyper micro analysis demands structure and organization of small items, a basic top-down flowchart is usually ideal. Other possible structures include the swim lane, value stream and spaghetti models.

2. Share it with team members

Don’t be afraid to collaborate with members at all levels of the company when creating and using the hyper micro chart. The people doing or overseeing the individual tasks can provide valuable insight about workflow.

3. Invest the time 

When businesses first adopt six sigma and DMAIC, they often want to jump right into it. It’s easy to rush through the “define” and “measure” steps of the process in the hurry to get to improvement. Companies really need to invest time into their analysis and process mapping to really make the following steps worthwhile.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about hyper micro process map

What are micro and macro process maps?

Micro, macro and mini are just relative terms used to describe different scales of workflow breakdown. A macro map is one that breaks down the entire production chain or process into around 5 to 10 discrete steps. Mini breaks these 5 to 10 steps into stages, which are broken down further in micro and hyper micro.

How do you use process maps?

Process maps are both a representation of reality and an ideal to aspire to. The map is the theoretical model that will, hopefully, eventually become an efficient reality for the company.

How do micro process maps relate to six sigma?

Six sigma is entirely built around data and quantifiable improvement. Micro process maps are one of the foundational pieces of data that leaders need to get off the ground with this program.

Make your map count

Developing process maps isn’t just busy work or a futile, brain-stretching exercise. These maps are a step-by-step guide to all the most important things a company does. The information in these maps is not only an outline of objectives, but also a guide for finding all the little ways to save, improve and streamline.

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