There were a couple of value stream mapping and process map exercises that needed to be performed and I was unable to go to the event. The person who was leading the event was very knowledgeable about the process but they were concerned about what to work on.

“What is the focus of the event?”, I asked.
“Eliminate non-value added time.”, he said.
“What type of process map are you planning on working on?”
“Because there are various departments as well as many operations, I am leaning towards a swim lane map.”
“Great. Then look for the diamonds and the crosses.”
“Diamonds and crosses? What are you talking about?”

Simple close up of a swim lane with traditional flow chart symbols

Diamonds are the decision points. When there is a decision, there is usually time lost, even if it as simple as a signature, there is time that is lost due to indecision, incomplete information or lack of ownership. When these can be eliminated or at the very least put into yes / no questions will improve the timeliness of decisions. Try not to add steps to limit the decision path. This may add time as well as complexity.

Crosses are those items that go from one department to another. There is almost always time lost across departments, even in ERP and software transactions. This is usually due to the batch and queue type processes that software works.

Once these items are identified and the screen shots, documents or evidence of the decisions and hand-offs are provided, it isn’t long before the team sees redundancies, time traps or both.