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Office of Research Services

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Process Mapping

OQM offers technical expertise in process mapping as applied to a variety of service areas and processes within ORS and ORF. ​


Process mapping is also known as flow charting and has been a widely used technique for many years. Frank Gilbreth invented the original system in the early 1900s. The technique is used in a wide variety of contexts and models such as business process re-engineering, process improvement, Lean Six Sigma, etc. There are many software tools available to aid in process mapping. For example, ORS has a site license for Microsoft Visio and OQM uses this tool for process mapping.

A process is a series of steps that transform inputs to outputs.  Inputs include materials, methods, information, people, equipment, and the work environment. Outputs are the products and services that are provided. Process mapping allows you to visually illustrate and convey the essential details of a process in a way that written standard operating procedures (SOPs) cannot do. A process map can replace many pages of words, or provide a quick reference for people to use as they execute the process. ​


Process mapping illuminates the inputs, activities, hand-offs, decisions, and outputs to:

  • Identify bottlenecks at critical hand-off points.
  • Identify unnecessary activities or duplicate activities.
  • Suggest activities that may be automated to enhance efficiency.
  • Suggest activities that may be combined.
  • Suggest activities that should be modified or re-located.​

Past Projects

The following video provides an introduction to process mapping and discusses how to read, understand, and utilize a process map in greater depth using the process map for Training Requests as an example.

 Introduction to Process Mapping

ORS/ORF Administrative Services

The Office of Research Services (ORS) transitioned many Administrative Services Branch (ASB) functions and activities to a centralized service in FY07. As part of a Director's FY13 Initiative, the roles and responsibilities of the ASB in relation to division staff (i.e., program directors, managers, supervisors, and business and program support staff were examined.

  • OQM used a survey to initially identify ASB activities, roles, and responsibilities
  • Focus groups were conducted with ORS/ORF Administrative Officers (AOs), program directors, managers, supervisors, and program support staff to further refine the survey results
  • Using the results of the focus groups, OQM conducted numerous process mapping sessions involving the ASB branch chief and AOs to standardize the critical tasks involved.  OQM provided draft process maps for review by ORS and ORF program directors, managers, supervisors, and business and program support staff
  • Using the comments received, OQM resolved the issues and has produced a final set of process maps.  Some examples include Title 42 Recruitments, ORS Decision Memo, Travel, Parking Requests, and Badging Requests

The following video describes processes for ID Badging Requests.  This video and many others are posted on the Office of Administrative Management's (OAM) Website at:

 ID Badge Request Process (Version 3)

Process Map Videos are available for the following processes (links open in a new window):

ORS/ORF Locksmith

OQM collaborated with ORS and ORF entities to analyze the locksmith processes. Process maps were used to document the current state. Analysis was performed to identify process improvement opportunities as well as security enhancements. Future state process maps were developed, which were used in the redesign of the locksmith processes.

NIH Risk Management Program

The NIH Risk Management Program (RM Program) is an ongoing process to perform standardized repeatable activities that promote the overall efficiency, effectiveness, accountability, and integrity of the organization's work. The overarching goal of this effort is to employ proactive risk management to enhance program performance. Process mapping is a useful tool for risk assessment and continued risk management by enabling business owners to better understand the processes and controls associated with identified risks. 
More information about the NIH RM Program, including a guidebook, some examples of process maps utilized in the process at NIH, and other resources, are available at

NIH Fire Marshal

OQM worked with the NIH Division of the Fire Marshal to document processes. OQM created a "playbook" of common processes within DFM. The playbook is used as an employee introduction tool as well as a reference for established employees. The process maps were also used to further understand the process and develop measurable metrics for process steps.

Management Analysis and Review Branch

OQM worked with the Management Analysis and Review Branch (MARB) to document Ethics and the FOIA processes. These process maps were used to help establish roles and responsibilities for the processes within MARB.​