Development of a Cross-Functional Map to Understand Complex and Interrelated Systems


When working with a government department of social services to understand implementation of federal grant activities, it quickly became clear that they were overwhelmed with business processes, data, management information systems and reporting needs. There were many departments and teams that needed to be incorporated. We asked them to share with us what has been done to date and they presented over 10 different process maps, done by multiple contractors using various approaches at different time points, which made the information difficult to use and their “story” appeared scattered across the documents.


Together, we reframed the purpose of this work to focus on the larger goal of the department, to become an integrated system of care. This meant that the final document that organized all of their work and deliverables had to be holistic and include the multiple teams (e.g, CPS, Social Workers, Administrators, and Information Technology). A cross-functional process map was developed with three layers: 1. Flow chart that displayed service options based on consumer needs; 2. Expectations of timeliness for when the services needed to occur in the process; 3. Data elements that are and should be recorded and collected at each step in the flow chart; 4. Location of these data elements in their management information system and what needed to be developed; and 5. Dates of implementation of new service flows and processes.


Specific flowcharts were created with and for each team in the department and the graphical representation of their work began to tell a more comprehensive story of how the teams work together and, in many cases, rely on one another to provide quality and timely services to consumers. The document was created using computer software that allows the user to click on an element and expand the underlying layers. A user can also look at the “big picture” flow without getting “in the weeds”. Department members were extremely satisfied with the work and commented how they “see how it all fits”. They took ownership of the product and initiated presentations to their federal project officers.

Contact us if you would like assistance with your system of care.