Interaction of Process Maps – The Process Approach

Woman drawing flowchart, business process concept

By Jim Lee, President simpleQuE

The interaction of process maps – Understanding the process approach

Understanding the interaction of process maps is key to the Process Approach.  Companies typically have some type of flow diagram or map showing their interaction of processes. This is the most common method to demonstrate compliance with the process requirements in ISO 9001:2015 clause 4.4 or any of the other aerospace, automotive, or environmental standards.  The ISO standards emphasize the need to determine inputs and outputs, along with the sequence and interaction of these processes.  This is best shown with a flow diagram of the business value stream for your business from the sales process all the way to the delivery of the product or service you provide. There may be more detail beyond the flow diagram to explain the activities of those processes, and the inputs required, and expected outputs from that process.

For larger companies with multiple sites and headquarters, or parent companies whether domestic or international, a new complexity arises.  Registrars are targeting more detail on the linkages, interactions and inputs from sister sites and parent companies, even though those locations may be out of the certification scope.  For automotive (IATF 16949) it is not permitted to exclude any related support function no matter where it is performed, remote or on-site.  The process map must clearly indicate these interactions between the related sites and who does what process.

For ISO 9001 and AS (Aerospace) standards, we are observing more emphasis by certification body auditors to scrutinize the interaction of process maps to ensure there is adequate clarity of the linkages and interactions, including headquarters that might be out of the certification scope. We are sharing this information as we see more creeping of scope from other standards, and the interpretations of related risks associated with process interactions between sister sites and headquarters.  It makes sense since they can be a source of past and current problems due to a quality system breakdown between these sites.

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What is in the certification scope and what is out

Clients are addressing this by showing the related bodies on their interaction of process maps, and using color coding or symbols with legends to show what is out of the certification scope and what is in. This is part of a company’s context and scope description with boundaries around what is in the certification scope and what is not.  Consider a situation where ABC Company has a Japanese parent company that is outside its certification scope, but interaction with the parent company can have a significant impact on its core processes in ABC’s interaction of process map.  Some companies treat these interactions through the purchasing process, and that is explained as part of their company’s context. Others show the parent company as an input to the site that is certified to denote the linkages and interactions with headquarters.

How to achieve value from your ISO certification

You can’t go wrong if your interaction of process map covers the applicable requirements in Clause 8 of the standards (sales, design, purchasing, production, service provision, release/delivery of product, and after sales services) to graphically depict your business value stream.  The other requirements in other clauses of the ISO standards (Clauses 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10) are addressed through management and supporting processes.  When your business processes and quality processes are the same, you will achieve greater value from your ISO certification.

While process mapping is often the first step to process improvement, make sure you are also looking at the bigger picture to understand what influences process performance.  For more information about implementing or improving your quality management system, contact simpleQuE.

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