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Module 14: Visio Tips and Tricks

Quality Improvement Training for LHDs, Module 14:
Visio Tips and Tricks

Introduction

The previous modules for Quality Improvement training have taught you the value of analyzing processes using process maps. This module will help you learn a software tool that you can use to develop and retain your maps. The total time of the video demonstrations is 7 minutes and 12 seconds.

Butcher Paper and Post-it® Notes

Developing a swimlane mapReviewing a swimlane map

The simplest technique for building process maps is to use butcher paper and Post-it® Notes. You can purchase rolls of butcher paper at office supply stores like Staples. Using Post-it® Notes allows you to move activities around as team members remember things they forgot to originally tell you. Initially drawing the arrows in pencil also makes it easier to adjust your maps.

Be sure to take a digital photo of your completed map, zoomed sufficiently to read the activities. That way you can share and store the maps electronically, and avoid the heartbreak of the maps being lost.


Microsoft Visio

The most common way to electronically build and share your process maps is to use a Microsoft product called Visio. Many local health departments have found that their IT departments already owned licenses that were available. Others have been allowed to purchase it with their preparedness money.

If you cannot justify a copy of Visio to support your project, determine whether you are allowed to use a free product called OpenOffice.

This module will highlight how to draw process maps using Visio. You can get more information about how to use OpenOffice to draw process maps in the Resources module of the training.


Swimlane Template

One reason Visio is such an excellent tool for drawing process maps is that it has a built-in template for creating swimlane maps.

To access this template, which Visio calls a Cross Functional Flowchart, select: File > New > Flowchart >Cross Functional Flowchart (US Units). If you have used the cross functional template recently, Visio will show a quick link icon for this template in the center of the start up page.

To enter your title, simply click in the title bar and type. To enter titles on each swimlane, click on the swimlane title and type.

This demonstration shows the following steps:

  1. Create a swimlane map via the template at File > New > Flowchart > Cross Functional Flowchart (US Units)
  2. Resize the map
  3. Add a title to the map
  4. Label the lanes in the map

 

 

Activities and Decisions

Whether you are using the template or not, you can easily drag shapes into your map from the Basic Flowchart Shapes stencil on the left side of the page. If the shapes are not showing, click on the title bar labeled Basic Flowchart Shapes on the left side of the page. If the stencil is not in the list, you can open it by selecting: File > Shapes > Flowchart > Basic Flowchart Shapes (US Units).

Throughout the training we have stressed activities and decisions as being the most common shapes you will use. To create an activity on your map, simply drag the shape that Visio calls a Process into your map. When you double click on the shape, you can type in text to label the activity. Click outside of the shape when you are done typing.

To create a decision symbol on your map, drag in the Decision shape. Text can be entered in a decision in the same way as an activity.

This demonstration shows the following steps:

  1. Open the Basic Flowchart Shapes stencil
  2. Add a process to your map
  3. Double click on the process box to add text
  4. Modify the text size using the buttons on the toolbar
  5. Add a decision to your map
  6. Double click on the decision diamond to add text
  7. Right click on the diamond to modify text

 

 

Connections

There are a number of ways to add lines with arrows, called connectors, to your shapes in order to show the inputs and outputs to activities. One easy way is to click on the Connector Tool on the toolbar at the top of the page. After clicking on the tool, hover over the first shape you want to connect until you see a highlighted red ‘handle’ (called a connection point). Then click and drag to draw a line to the second shape. When you see the highlighted red 'handle' on the second shape, release the mouse button. By 'glueing' a line in this way, it will move automatically if the shapes are repositioned.

You can also drag a Dynamic Connector from the Basic Flowchart Shapes stencil to add a connector. Attach one end of the connector to the first shape, then click and drag the other end of the connector to the second shape.

Sometimes you will want to add text to a connector. Remember that decisions must have a Yes arrow and a No arrow. Just double click on the connector to add text.

This demonstration shows the following steps:

  1. Add a connection between two activities using the button on the toolbar
  2. Add a connection between two activities using the Basic Flowchart Shapes stencil
  3. Add labels to the connectors

 

 

Adjusting Swimlanes

One of the benefits of using an electronic tool for drawing your process maps is that you can adjust them when you need to use the space on your page differently.

Sometimes you discover that your map would be more understandable if the swimlanes were in a different order so you have fewer connectors crossing each other. Simply click and hold the title of the swimlane you want to move and drag and release it at another position. After you're done, you may find that some of your connection points need to be adjusted manually.

If necessary, you can adjust the height or width of a swimlane by clicking a swimlane title and dragging a handle.

You can also drag another swimlane in from the Cross Functional Flowchart Shapes stencil. It can be added at the end or between existing swimlanes.

This demo shows the following steps:

  1. Move the last swimlane to a different position
  2. Adjust the connectors that are out of place
  3. Adjust the height of the last swimlane
  4. Add a new swimlane using the Cross Functional Flowchart Shapes stencil
  5. Add a label to the new swimlane

 

 

On Page Reference

Sometimes connectors that cross other connectors make a map difficult to understand. Moving the order of the swimlanes may not always resolve the problem. Consider using a shape called an On Page Reference, located on the Basic Flowchart Shapes stencil. This shape should appear at least twice on your page, once showing where the connector is coming out of an activity, and then showing where the connector goes back into another activity. The round On Page Reference is often labeled with a letter, so you can use multiple On Page References on one page.

This demo shows the following steps:

  1. Add an on page reference using the stencil
  2. Add a label to the on page reference
  3. Add and label the second on page reference
  4. Add connections from the process boxes to the on page references

 

 

Resizing your drawing page

If you want to change the size of your drawing page, position your mouse pointer on the edge of the drawing page, and then hold down the Ctrl Key. When the pointer changes to a two-headed arrow, drag the page larger or smaller.

If you want to resize the length of your swimlane drawing on a page, click on the title row of the swimlane and handles will appear on the sides of the swimlane. Drag the right handle to make the swimlanes longer or shorter.

This demo shows the following steps:

  1. Resize the drawing page (remember to hold down the Ctrl key)
  2. Change the size of the swimlane map

 

 

Fitting your map to one printed page

Sometimes it becomes a challenge to fit your process map on a page so the font is large enough to be read.

If you think your map will be readable on one page, you may need to adjust some default settings to make sure your ‘drawing page’ fits on one ‘printing page’. To see what the map will look like when printed, use the standard Microsoft ‘Print Preview’ function. If your map prints on more than one page and you want it to print on one page only select: File > Page Setup. Change the settings to Fit 1 sheet across by 1 sheet down, and then click Apply or OK.

This demo shows the following steps:

  1. View a preview of how the map will print
  2. Use the Page Setup dialog to fit the map to a single page
  3. View a preview of how the map will print after changing the setting
  4. Go to Page Setup via the button on the toolbar
  5. Change the paper size to Legal

 

 

Printing maps on multiple pages

Sometimes you need to print large maps on multiple pages so the font is large enough to read. In this case consider using an Off Page Reference, which looks like a baseball diamond on its side, to show where shapes connect from page to page. The Off Page Reference is on the Basic Flowchart Shapes stencil.

To add another page select Insert > New Page. On the new page use an Off Page Reference to show where the Off Page Reference on the previous page connects.

This demo shows the following steps:

  1. Add an off page reference using the stencil
  2. Add a new page to the map that will use the second off page reference (the option that is checked will synchronize the labels on both off page references)
  3. Add a label to the second on page reference (this will also add the same label to the first off page reference)
  4. Move the second off page reference
  5. Rotate the second off page reference
  6. Go to the first page and rotate the first off page reference
  7. Add a connection from the process box to the first off page reference

 

 

Numbering Shapes

In the lesson on Narrative Swimlane maps you learned that you should number the shapes on a map as a reference to the narrative on the lower part of the page. You may also want to use reference numbers on other types of maps to make it easier for teams to review maps verbally.

To number shapes go to: Tools > Add Ons > Visio Extras > Number Shapes. Indicate the settings you want and click OK. Then click each subsequent shape in the order you want the numbers to appear. Keep in mind that the numbers do not need to indicate the sequence of activities. These are reference numbers so people can easily find an activity on the map.

This demo shows the following steps:

  1. Open the Number Shapes tool
  2. Automatically number all the shapes in the diagram
  3. Undo the numbering and open the tool again
  4. Select the option to manually number the shapes
  5. Click on each of the shapes to be numbered in turn (you can select the shapes in whatever order you want)
  6. Turn off the numbering of shapes
  7. Resize the shapes to better display the number and text

 

 

Adding a timeline

In the lesson on Value Stream Maps you learned that you can add a timeline to a process map to understand the value added process time and non-valued wait time.

If you have the Microsoft Visio Professional Edition there is a timeline template at: File > Shapes > Business > Business Process > Value Stream Map Shapes (US Units).

If you have the Microsoft Visio Standard Edition you will need to draw the timeline manually using the ‘Line Tool’ or ‘Connector Tool’ on the toolbar. Release the left mouse key each time you want to change directions.

This demo shows the following steps:

  1. Open the Value Stream Map Shapes stencil
  2. Add a timeline segment to the map using the stencil
  3. Resize the timeline segment to line up with the first process box and connector
  4. Right click on the segment to copy it
  5. Right click on the map to paste the segment
  6. Drag the new segment to add the next section of the timeline
  7. Repeat the paste and drag steps to build the remainder of the timeline (we skip ahead here to the completion of this step for the entire timeline)
  8. Click on the upper and lower levels of the timeline to add the process and wait times
  9. Add a timeline total at the end of the timeline using the stencil
  10. Resize the timeline total
  11. Add the total process time to the timeline total
  12. Now manually add a timeline

  13. Click on the Connector Tool button and add the first line in the timeline
  14. Right click on the line to remove the arrow
  15. Select the line and right click to copy it
  16. Right click on the map to paste the line
  17. Drag the new line and resize it to add the next part of the timeline
  18. Repeat the copy, paste and drag to add the next two parts of the timeline
  19. Repeat the copy, paste and drag to add the next two parts of the timeline
  20. Select the four lines (either by click and drag or by selecting each line individually while holding the Shift key)
  21. Right click to copy and paste to create a new timeline segment
  22. Drag the new segment to add the next section of the timeline
  23. Repeat the paste and drag steps to build the remainder of the timeline

 

 

Summary

This module has reviewed a tool that will help you develop and retain your process maps. There are many other ideas in the Visio 2007 Tips and Tricks quick reference guide located on the Health Commerce System. After logging into Commerce, select Topics, then navigate to the LHD > Training > Quality Improvement folder and click on the Quality Improvement Training document. You will also find a quick reference guide for OpenOffice Tips and Tricks, and a template of shapes for drawing maps using PowerPoint.


 

 

 
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