Firstly, let’s look at what a Turtle Diagram is.
A Turtle Diagram is a visual tool that displays all aspects of a process including inputs, outputs, criteria metrics and other relevant information that assists in the efficiency improvements of organizational processes.
The Diagram identifies who is the owner of the process and demonstrates how roles, responsibilities, and resources are assigned within the organization. It can also identify any ISO standard clauses that the process must abide by. It does this all in a one-page diagram, rather than multiple page reports that are rarely read.
The Turtle Diagram is made up of 4 legs, (with who, with what, how it is done and effectiveness units) and a head (input) and tail (output). Many diagrams also include an additional unit for the support processes.
The units commonly used in a Turtle Diagram are:
- The Center Process Unit which looks at the process itself. This unit breaks down the process into each of the steps of the process and the order in which they are taken.
- The Inputs and Output Units starting with what goes into the process, and what is expected to come out of the process. From raw materials to completed products.
- The ‘Who is Involved’ Unit which looks at the job roles assigned and their responsibility to add value to the steps within the process.
- The ‘With What’ Unit lists all the resources required to complete the process. These can include equipment, information, databases, and even property.
- The ‘How is it Done’ Unit links to policy and practice documents within the management system of the organization. These documents inform those responsible for the different steps of the process how to complete them inline with the best, efficient practices of the organization.
- ‘Effectiveness and Efficiency’ Unit lists all the measures available to the organization to monitor the efficiency of the process.
- ‘Support Process’ Unit identifies other processes within the organization that assist in the completion of the main process.
A Turtle Diagram makes the link between all the standard operating policies, the process flowcharts, and other relevant information as well as interactions between the main process and others (such as the supporting processes).
Creating a traceable path from start to finish, with all the resources and roles involved in more detail than a basic process flow chart would provide. Creating a clear and concise visual representation of the process, that management can understand to measure effectiveness or locate ways in which to make improvements and remove waste from the process. It also provides documentation that can be easily followed by new starters to an organization, instead of lengthy and wordy instruction manuals.
Many who adopt ISO standard 9001 find that a Turtle diagram assists in following Clause 4.4 – that organizations establish, implement, maintain and continually improve a quality management system, including the processes needed and their interactions. This is because each unit within the Turtle Diagram satisfies an aspect of the clause, ensuring compliance. This is what makes Turtle Diagrams so important to lean management practices within an organization.
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