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Document Maps are a new type of process map that shows the literal documents used within a process. That’s because getting the job done requires more than just the work itself. Often times, there are data inputs provided and paperwork handed over, not only before the project, but also between tasks within the project.
Document Maps = Process Maps
Now, paperwork may take the form of electronic documents, or records in a database. But either way, handing off or accepting documents is often how we set the boundaries between tasks and transfer control from one party (or project step) to another.
The document process map is used to show the flow of paperwork. It is one of the seven most-used process maps describied in our process map series. The document map displays visually what information you should expect to receive, and from whom. It also shows you what information you are expected to produce for someone else. Document maps show all input and output documents used.
For an example, let’s go back to my family vacation story. One of my usual stops before any family vacation is AAA for a TripTik. You get a custom-printed series of roadmaps showing the territory that you plan to traverse. Tall skinny pages are comb-bound into a book. The route is highlighted, usually with an orange highlighter that is easy to see in daylight and darkness.
In our vacation travel example, a TripTik map page could serve as an output document from the navigator to the driver at the “provide directions” step. Sure, after several hours on the road my wife might just tell me where to go. But she might better show me where to go. With experience, we have agreed that a highlighted TripTik removes all ambiguity between right turns and left and otherwise clarifies the navigator’s intentions.
Document Maps Define Hand-Offs
Look at the first row labeled “Navigator.” She obtains a TripTik map and tourist brochures (received from outside the process). The navigator executes the ‘plan route’ process step and produces a ‘highlighted route’ and ‘turn-by-turn instructions’ for the Driver. All four documents are, literally, physical documents, and thus are shown on the map.
Next, the driver uses the documents obtained from the navigator in his ‘driving’ step and produces a status report showing the current location. Notice that a parallelogram is shown instead of a document symbol, indicating that the status report is not a written document, but a spoken one in this case.
The passengers, who don’t really own any process steps, produce a break stop request as part of a pre-defined process called “break process.” That is, the break process comes from somewhere outside of the Driving process. Here, passengers produce a spoken request for a break. Again, a parallelogram is shown, indicating that no actual written document is produced.
Document Maps show Important Documents
Document maps should show all the important written documents so that you could audit your inventory of reports for compliance purposes. The document map is not a recreation of the swim lane map. Decisions and process detail can be left out. You are showing the main steps in rough order.
Document maps come in handy in quality systems like ISO 9001, which require that certain records (like product requirements) be created and maintained. Since they show the records your process creates, documents maps remind and remind process owners to generate output documents without having to name someone as the “document police.” And if you’re in the middle of the process, document maps can tell you if you have the inputs you need to do your job.