TaskMap: Processes Made Easy

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Process Mapping Articles >> Documenting Processes and Instructions

Documenting Processes and Instructions: Flowchart and TaskMap

 

Flowcharts

Process Maps which are often lumped into the flowchart category are more visual in nature. While you will see differing definitions, at their core they are all Task oriented, the tasks being the work elements in the process, and usually represented by symbols showing actions, actions and the connections, relationships and outcomes between them.

Definition

The American Society of Quality defines Process Maps as follows.

"Steps connected together become a process in visual format, with the ownership for each step or task supported by key measures that support that process."

While the ASQ has a quality view of processes, they also have tapped into one of the important elements "what do we want to achieve" with our process. This is an important aspect to the flowchart and TaskMap.

The flowchart and TaskMap

Here we see a process map with supporting descriptions. This one happens to be embedded in a document, a common practice, and it shows how a very dense rendering of process can often make it difficult to understand right from the beginning. Here the tasks, decisions and document symbols are used to inform the reader of different activities.

Pros

  • Visual in nature
  • Work breakdown structure is obvious: see most aspects of the work to be done Task oriented
  • Graphically illustrates the relationship between
    • Tasks
    • Actions
    • Decisions

Cons

  • Often difficult to read due or follow due to inconsistent layout
  • Consisderable lack of standardization for use of symbols
  • Complexity can cancel out the visual benefits of the flowchart
  • Learning curve is often extensive to use products to create flowcharts

 

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The TaskMap

TaskMap was created by Harvard Computing Group in 2003 as a simple and new type of flowchart. The goals were simple, allow anyone to easily create TaskMaps that everyone could follow with the right amount of detail and the minimum number of symbols.

Definition

A simple, consistent visual model to document and communicate instructions and procedures everyone can understand.

While TaskMap has it's own data structure and visual format, data from TaskMaps can be imported and exported to almost all other methods and systems used to create and communicate information about processes.

Pros

  • Simple to learn with only six symbols
  • Easy to distribute maps via the web with no learning curve
  • Consistent data capture model, making communication across functional groups precise
  • Instructional, improvement and projects can all be modeling in same format

Cons

  • Less well known that complex models already in the market
  • Requires Microsoft Visio to run application