What is a Flowchart?
The process flowchart is a graphical representation that describes the sequential steps and steps of a given process. Furthermore, this tool can be used to address the processes of any organization.
Using geometric figures and other similar elements, to make a flowchart can simplify the flow of information, the flow of activities, and other elements that make up each type of process in an organization.
The main functions of the flowchart are:
- Improve understanding of processes and how they are interconnected.
- Show how activities and work routines are developed in the organization.
- Identify problems and bottlenecks that generate waste and rework.
Main symbols to make a flowchart
- Processis the most commonly used symbol to make a flowchart, denoting an action within the process. It indicates that a specific work step is performed here and often contains a title for this specific activity.
- Terminator– symbol shows where the process begins and ends. Especially, it is useful when a flowchart spans multiple pages. The Terminator’s form sometimes includes a trigger that starts the rest of the process.
- Decision– marks a point in a process where a decision must be made. Typically, this revolves around a yes or no decision, i.e. checking a condition or a situational branch of the process.
- Sub-Processis used for a sub-process of a procedure that is already documented. It informs that more than one work step is required here and that these are documented elsewhere, i,e in a different process flowchart or processor work instruction. This symbol should only be used if the sub-process it refers to has already been documented.
- Manual processing– useful especially where most actions are electronic or automated, such as in automotive manufacturing, to show which part of the line is operated by humans and which by robots.
- Connector– marks a jump from one process to another. It can be used to indicate that an inspection or audit has taken place or is required including part of another process.
- Documentor Multi-Document – shows that a step in your process creates one or more documents.
Commonly used types of flowchart?
The two most popular flowcharts are:
- Linear Flowchart
- Functional Flowchart
Linear Process Flowchart
The Linear Process Flowchart is a diagram that displays the sequence of work with the addition of decision points during the flow. Its scope can help processes to identify bottlenecks, rework, and redundancies in the processes. It is usually used to explain the operation of a certain task.
Functional Process Flowchart
The Functional Process Flowchart is a diagram that divides the processes between areas and departments. Its functionality is essential for a process that encompasses different activities but represents a single input and output flow. It’s great for integrating the different people who are responsible for the processes and how they interact.
How to make a process flowchart?
A process flowchart essentially establishes a beginning, middle, and end relationship. To make a flowchart, inputs are needed to “start” the process. The means is the process itself, that is, the activities to be carried out to achieve the established objectives. The end is represented by the outputs of the process, that is, the expected results of the activities performed.
However, although we have mentioned only 7 symbols, it is worth noting that there are many others that can also be used. However, to make a flowchart with many symbols can make reading and analyzing the diagram highly complex.
In addition, another fundamental step before you make a flowchart is to do a preliminary study of all the existing processes in the organization, because without understanding the interrelation between them, the flowchart may become confused and lack objectivity, becoming another document without any functionality.
As already mentioned, the flowchart details the operation of a process, so it is important to plan before defining which processes will be designed and especially the sequence between them.
How to analyze a flowchart?
Without an analysis of the designed process, the flowchart is just another document without any use. Every flowchart needs to be critically evaluated so that the goals, mentioned above, are fully achieved.