“Process mapping teams often get stalled by excessive focus on variation and differences within processes, whereas value stream maps reveal macro-level similarities.”― Karen Martin
Information, per se, lends itself to many theories and paradigms that should find viewership in a variety of contexts developed in the modern world. The essence of information remains the same in every context – to enlighten readers and audiences about systems, processes, beliefs, constructs, hypotheses, and ideas. Hence, the idea of information flow mapping holds within itself the promise of depicting the movement of different types of information that act in unison to depict the workings of (natural or engineered) systems. In this context, experts have discerned key elements such as data items, formats of information, and methods of transferring information, accountability, access, and locations where information is stored/held in transit. These operate together to present the act of information flow mapping wherein, flows of information indicate (for instance) the movement of goods and services from suppliers and sub-suppliers to buyers, customers, and clients. However, best practices dictate, inter alia, the points of interaction and interchange between all operators and parties must undergo identification through static visual media such as flowchart diagrams.
Dynamic models of information flow mapping can assist modern scientific enterprise to develop new insights into natural phenomenon. These initiatives must find expression in the digital domain in a bid to leverage the power of modern computers and software packages. When sketched inside a flowchart diagram, such models can feature elements such as causation, progression, outliers, locations of disruption, forms of manifestation, scope for human intervention, damage limitation mechanisms, among others. The movement of information inside the schematic can also portray historic data, an aspect that helps create context for readers participating in such undertakings. Focus points, when located inside various natural phenomenon help boost our understanding of natural events such as precipitation, hurricanes, tidal waves, the outflow of lava from geological layers, erratic weather events, and more. In essence, the agency of flowcharts enables a multi-level documentation through the principles inherent in information flow mapping.
Widely accepted quality protocols, such as Six Sigma, represent intelligent application of information flow mapping in the domain of modern manufacturing techniques, systems, and processes. The elements of analysis, measurement, design, control, (the impulse to improve) processes, measurement, and validation dominate information maps designed to further Six Sigma-driven systems. In tune with such philosophy, process designers must work to position various components that relate to said elements inside visual maps, combine their effects, and arrive at optimal solutions that promote fast, sustained, and efficient manufacturing processes. Additionally, certain areas dominated by sub-texts must emerge inside these maps (rendered in the form of flowcharts); these areas depict notes, inputs, and validations that propel various ideas and their application in aid of the master project that subsumes the mapped diagram.
Further to the above, acts of information flow mapping must attend and animate the design of lean manufacturing processes. Such processes are vital to ensure the commercial competitiveness of contemporary enterprises and help (bolster and expand) the industrial base of modern nations. A typical map may take shape as a graduated, information-rich hemisphere sketched inside a flowchart. Lean tools and practices may comprise the central element inside the hemisphere, while a sequence of stages and sub-stages radiate from the central element. These stages, when variously annotated, could denote customer relationships, supplier relationships, human resources, planning and control interfaces, and process and equipment. The ongoing act of information flow mapping finds enrichment in sub-stages and multiple layers that denote aspects such as workforce engagement, just-in-time production techniques, inventory control mechanisms, continuous process flow, the identification of wasted opportunities, cellular manufacturing, and more. The emerging illustration offers audiences a clear schematic view of different layers and locations through which information flows to complete the process.
In the age of pervasive digital marketing, keywords have emerged as a force of nature in the vast expanses of the modern Internet. In such scenarios, digital marketers can leverage the power of information flow mapping to harness varieties of keywords (and combinations thereof) to pursue marketing objectives, expand the reach of digital marketing campaigns, and generate a definitive impact on Internet-borne audiences. Pursuant to this, marketers could devise flowchart-based illustrations that analyze the following through various diagrammatic stages: find competitor keywords, discover new keywords, unearth titles, headlines, and body copy of online advertisements, explore digital story-telling ideas, source keywords from blogs and posts on social media, and more. In essence, the flowchart helps marketing professionals design a roadmap that could power new campaigns (or sections thereof). Further, critical information culled from completed projects could find expression inside these flowcharts, thereby molding, shaping, and enriching the contours of ongoing plans to launch new campaigns in the digital domain.
The flow of materials inside a natural ecosystem presents interesting case studies that benefit from the application of information flow mapping. For instance, both renewable and non-renewable resources are processed in various stages by human civilization. These include the supply of resources, the production, manufacturing, and processing stages, consumption patterns, and recycling flows. Flowcharts that map these stages must pinpoint the locations, wherein waste products emanate as materials move from one stage to the next. To illustrate, certain waste products find generation in the production, manufacturing, and processing stages; the same holds true in the locations of consumption. Therefore, information flows must depict the locations of recycling landfills, deep wells, disposal in the oceans, and release of waste materials in land and air. The detailed instance of information flow mapping allows audiences to assess every level of the flow of materials; such mapping can also generate actual value by allowing process architects to detail new methods of processing waste more efficiently.
Modern industrial systems benefit directly from information flow mapping undertaken inside flowchart-based diagrams and illustrations. Such undertakings help readers gain high-level views (and create a perfect assessment) of the modern iron and steel industry, for instance. The stages inside the flowchart could depict initial reduction-driven processes, wherein metal ores are processed to output pig iron, various grades of steel, and more. The subsequent stages, colored in various tints inside the flowchart, describe the casting, rolling, and fabrication processes that output end-use products for use in vehicle making, industrial equipment, construction-grade steel, claddings, metal products, industrial equipment, and more. The connections between the various stages emerge in the form of dense ganglia inside flowcharts, thereby outlining flows of material information. Additionally, the act of information flow mapping enables operators in said industry to sharpen quality control processes, calibrate the volumes of product output, survey the processes, remove glitches in production and processing stages, and elevate the quality of resource utilization.
We have spotlighted the many avenues of utility that drive acts of mapping flows of information. From an academic perspective, such initiatives empower operators to boost their awareness about processes and their moving parts. High levels of awareness can help refine existing processes, generate greater volumes of output, and reduce the incidence of loss and wastage. From a purely commercial perspective, such mapping helps boost opportunities for higher profit margins, encourages research and development that could trigger new product development, and spotlights the scope for intelligent interventions at different stages and sub-stages of extant processes. These stances encourage deeper explorations of the phenomenon of material and information flows, thus validating ongoing projects in this domain.