The power of the hierarchical mapping approach is that you can build just ONE map and EVERY process diagram is a child diagram.

There are advantages to this rather than having lots of discrete diagrams. You are only managing one map, therefore managing access rights, governance, version control, reporting and branding is far simpler.

The top level diagram is a top-level landing page - a graphical folder structure if you like - where you can put ALL the different process diagrams and data models you will be drawing over time as you document more and more of your Org. 

We’ve seen different approaches for landing pages 

  • An overall company end-to-end process or value stream. This sometimes takes a while to get agreement on if it doesn’t already exist. However, it is very valuable because every process in the company hangs off it somewhere.
  • A series of activity boxes, each of which is a mini end-to-end process, e.g.: “issue to resolution”, “recruit to retire”, “quote to cash”.
  • A simple set of activity boxes for each lower level process diagram, so it is essentially a set of menus or shortcuts

Below are examples of each type of landing page.

Option 1. Top Level operational diagram. This is the flow of high-level activities showing the core value stream of the operation with individual boxes housing the support processes. If you have this kind of view available - or have the right stakeholders to help you create it - it's our recommended approach. If you can't start with this picture, at least keep it in mind as it's where you would hope to end up if you use this approach in the longer term.

Option 2. Catalog of "End to End" processes. This is a common way of describing processes in an "IT project" context - “issue to resolution”, “recruit to retire”, “quote to cash” ..etc. This is really useful when you do not have the time to agree on how option 1 should look. The example below shows using "Image mode" for the activity box theme. This makes it more visual and when you hover over the image - the text underneath becomes visible. But you could just as easily write "Develop and Close Sales" or "Develop new product" as the text in the activity box. The inputs/outputs in this context are optional. Whatever works for you. It's about communication, context and getting everyone on the same page.

Option 3. Using an existing folder structure. You may have existing documentation and process content in a set of folders. We get asked "how can I save my Elements Catalyst maps in folders". We would recommend moving to a process focused structure (like Option 1 or 2). If that's not an option, simply create a top-level diagram that replicates your file folder structure for content. While it re-enforces functional silos and misses out on delivering the value of cross-functional visibility, if you absolutely have to stick with it it's no worse than where you are today.

Useful techniques

Using images as hotspots, backgrounds and covers for activity boxes

Using free text as hotspots

Changing colors and styles

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