An often-overlooked element of implementing any new initiative is the process mapping exercise. The more intricate the initiative, the more valuable the process map becomes. Although launching a root cause analysis implementation plan is usually fairly straight-forward, it is still worthwhile spending some time mapping out how the work flows from a triggered event all the way through tracking the effectiveness of implemented solutions. It’s an effective way of ensuring that everyone has a clear understanding of their role and where it fits into the process.

Process mapping is usually done in two-steps commonly known as the brown paper/white paper exercise. The brown paper mapping step creates a diagram representing how RCAs are currently managed throughout the system. Once the existing workflows are clearly understood and charted the white paper charting is performed. This diagram documents the desired workflow and systematically identifies gaps between the current and desired future state. Identifying the nature and magnitude of these gaps allows the Facility Leadership Team and/or RCA Steering Committee to dedicate the resources needed to make the change over.  It also clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of affected departments and positions in the RCA program.

As seen in the example below, different symbols and colors are used to represent various steps and components. The steps are laid out from left to right and top to bottom. A start or stop point is usually designated with an oval or rounded rectangle, a regular step is a rectangle and a decision point is a diamond. All steps are connected by lines and arrows.

Example RCA Process Map- Click to download enlarged PDF

RCA Workflow

When done properly, process mapping leaves no room for misunderstanding of what needs to be done when or voids in roles/responsibilities, resulting in efficient and effective implementation of the RCA initiative and ultimately, operational improvements.

So far, this blog series has covered:

The Key Steps of Designing Your Program

Defining Goals and Current Status

Setting KPIs and Establishing Trigger Thresholds

RCA and Solution Tracking and Roles and Responsibilities

Recommended RCA Team Structure

Responsibilities of the Six Roles

Training Strategy

Oversight and Management

And, Process Mapping.

Stay tuned for our next installments on Change Management and Implementation Tracking.

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