Process improvement project - Define -

How to learn to improve from a tangled process

How can Spaghetti diagrams be used within a Lean Office environment?


Can we use these to help measure our processes?


Can we use them to identify internal vs external touch points?


Yes of course we can!

So what can spaghetti diagrams apply to?


In a traditional environment, you may reach for this tool if you want to rearrange your office space, and is plenty of information available about how to use a Spaghetti diagram for this purpose.


But this tool to capture the movement of electronic data can be applied just as effectively. 

In the following example, you will see a complex chain of emails sent in an effort to resolve a customer stock demand.  The administrator was frustrated with the constant going forward and back to various departments for an answer, and finally escalated it to their Supervisor.

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The number of emails had reached well over 100, and the administrator took the time to map out the flow of email information between each of the internal touch points, as well as the customer.

As you can see from the map, it makes the communication flow very visible.  It gives us the touch points which were touched the most number of times:


Inbound emails - Project Management Manager, Material Planner, Project Manager, Local Sales

Outbound emails - Local Sales, KAM, Project Manager

Non respondees - Director, VP, Planner


From this visibility, you can generate brainstorm questions:


  1. Is the Director and VP correct escalation path? 

  2. If Director and VP are escalation points, what is their process for reacting?

  3. How many times was the customer kept informed?  Who should have been responsible for updating the customer?

  4. Did all Planners need contacting?  Was there a clear Contacts list in place for knowing which Planner was to be contacted?

  5. Could have this been made simpler, with less people to contact?  Can additional approval levels be given to cut out some of these contacts?

  6. How much time was taken for each person to read the mail in case there was action required?  How can this be translated into cost of time lost?


The spaghetti diagram or map is a great tool, super visual! It  generates a lot of questions as to the smooth flow of information. 

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As a Lean consultancy, we are passionate about simplicity and Lean is a mindset that we apply in all our areas of activity. Our reward is when we know that we helped you meeting your business objectives, where both management skills and tools play a key role.