How & When To Use The Spaghetti Diagram Technique

The spaghetti diagram involves using a continuous line to trace the path of an object, piece of information or activity in a process thereby helping to identify redundancies in the workflow, congested locations and wasted movement among staff.

A spaghetti diagram is a visual representation of the actual path taken by people as they move through a process within a department to complete their jobs.

A spaghetti diagram can also be called a point-to-point flow diagram, a physical process map or a workflow diagram. It may well represent the movement of goods through a process, or the movement of a document through a particular department. For example, it can be used to simulate the distance travelled by a forklift with the objective of improving the speed with which materials are transported.

The subsequent flow forms lines that are tangled, resembling a plate of cooked spaghetti. Evidently, a plate of spaghetti looks tangled and messy and so is the inefficiency of some of the work processes within an organisation. 

How To Draw A Spaghetti Diagram

  • Outline the present work area procedure in detail
  • Describe the movement each unit or person makes by drawing a line from one point to another
  • As more movements are made, more lines are drawn
  • Redundant/wasteful movements are indicated by the increasing number of lines on the work area.

The spaghetti diagram is mainly used when the management of an organisation intends to show the kind of waste brought about by superfluous movements and paths. The impression the image creates is considerably stronger than what can be portrayed using bare numbers.

Here are some examples of questions that can come up when drawing a spaghetti diagram

  1. Can time-wasting movements be eliminated?
  2. Can tasks be executed in a different and more effective sequence than are currently being done?
  3. Can different machines, people or equipment be arranged closer together to reduce walking distances?
  4. How can processes be simplified in light of the observations? 

Walking distances play a significant role in identifying wasteful activities in the set-up of the work area. The huge distances covered by employees or a particular product when there are many start and stop movements can be quite surprising.

To improve efficiency at the workplace or in production processes for example, the spaghetti diagram can be used by the analyst to design strategies for minimising starts and stops as well as waits and distances. In conclusion, the resulting spaghetti diagram should on the long run, be used to arrive at a constant, direct and effective flow of activities and movement within the organisation.

Picture Attribution: “Spaghetti With Eeg” by bplanet/