When a business wants to improve a process, the best course of action is to map it out into its smaller components. The initial gathering of information and the subsequent construction of a model of the activities that take place in a process is called Process Mapping. The earliest documented structured process mapping method, the flow process chart, dates back to 1921. It was introduced by Frank Gilbreth, an American engineer, consultant, and author.
One increasingly popular method of breaking down a process into smaller and more easily understood parts, which this article will focus on is called ICOR: Inputs, Outputs, Controls, and Resources.
ICOR is an internationally accepted process analysis method that defines the inputs, outputs, controls, and resources for high-level processes and sub-processes alike. It’s a box-based diagrammatical approach that can help a business:
Identify the source of problems: Some processes look impossibly complex when examined in their entirety. It’s only when they are broken into their individual components that the real causes of problems become apparent. ICOR Mapping helps businesses identify the sources of problems and eliminate them.
Eliminate waste: The less time it takes a business to identify the source of problems and eliminate it, the quicker the improvement exercise can start to deliver value. Efficient process mapping methods such as ICOR mapping are important when your goal is focusing resources where they matter the most.
Better communicate issues: Explaining a complex problem to someone who isn’t familiar with the process may be tiresome, to say the least. In some cases, it may even be downright impossible. Being able to break down a complex process into its smaller components makes it easier to communicate issues to various stakeholders.
Assign responsibilities: The more precise the definition and identification of a problem is, the easier it is to assign it to someone competent enough to solve it.
The focus of ICOR Mapping is to split transactional processes to indicate the relationships between them. Critical quality measurement points are captured and visualized to create a concise vision for the development and deployment of new standards.
It’s recommended to follow certain guidelines when mapping a process:
Brainstorm: Start with a brainstorming session during which you consider all activities that fall within the scope of the process.
Group: Group the identified activities into thematically-related sub-processes.
Identify: Identify the connections between the subprocesses.
Define: Define the optimal solution and assign someone the responsibility to implement it.
Measure: Once the solution is implemented, measure its effects and act accordingly.