What Is a Flow Chart?
What Is a Flow Chart?
A flowchart is a visual representation of a process that makes it easy to understand the process at a glance. Flow charts depict the nature and flow of steps in a process. Steps and decision points of a process are linked by connecting lines and directional arrows showing process flow direction. This makes it easy for anyone to rationally follow the process from beginning to end. It is important to note that each process step is represented by a different symbol showing different types of actions in a process.
Flow Chart Symbols
Flow charts usually consist of four main symbols that have specific meanings;
Main Types of Flow Charts
Process Flow Chart
It is also known as the system flow diagram. Itshows the relationship between key parts of a system. A process flowchart is probably the most versatile type of flow chart as it can be used to map various processes.
Swimlane Flow Chart
A Swimlane flow chart maps a process from start to finish, but also splits process steps into categories to help distinguish who is responsible for each set of actions. Thus, making responsibilities clearer than a regular flow chart.
It describes data and document flow within an organization.
Data Flow Chart
It shows data flow in and out of an information system or business.
Uses of Flow Charts
Identify Problem Areas
Flow charts enable us to identify process bottlenecks and other opportunities for improvement with ease thus allowing us to reduce and/or eliminate variation and delays in the process.
Creation of flow charts involves gathering of information from all stakeholders who understand the process, making available wealth of knowledge and expertise to standardise the way things are done.
Promote Process Understanding
Flow charts depict a process visually thus making it easy for many people to understand the process as process steps are apparent. In an organization with people from diverse backgrounds, communication barriers are reduced and/or eliminated as flow charts provide a uniform and easily understood language compared to written descriptions of the process.
Defining Current State of a Process
Flow charts map processes from beginning to end thus illustrating the current functionality of the process. This gives an organization an opportunity to understand why the process is the way it is and what should be done to improve it.