Flowcharts: The Ultimate Tool for Visualizing Information
A flowchart is a diagram that illustrates a process. It consists of boxes and lines.
Flowcharts are especially useful for processes that involve multiple steps or decisions. They're often used to explain complicated manufacturing or service delivery tasks.
What Is a Flowchart?
Each rectangular box represents a task in a flowchart, and each diamond shape box represents a decision. A line connects boxes that represent steps in the process.
Flowcharts help us better understand processes. They're helpful because they allow us to communicate ideas visually easily. See below the most commonly used flowchart symbols.
Types of Flowcharts
Here are some types of flowcharts you may come across:
Process Flowchart: It shows how a process works.
Swimlane Flowchart: It displays a set of tasks arranged vertically divided in lanes according to the function. It is also called the Cross-functional Flowchart.
Control Flowchart: It describes the control flow within a program.
Data Flow Diagram: This diagram illustrates data flow by connecting blocks of data.
Information Flow Diagram: This shows how information flows from one component to another.
Process Flow Diagram: The diagram shows the sequence (order) of the activities performed in a process.
Decision Flow Chart: The Decision Flow chart shows the way something should get done.
What is a Flowchart Used for?
Flowcharts can be used in many ways.
• For example, they can illustrate a process, describe a procedure, or guide a decision.
• When you want to communicate something to someone else, a flowchart can be effective.
• In fact, some people believe that flowcharts are better than words at communicating ideas.
• A process flow chart shows how a product moves through various stages of production.
• A control flow chart depicts the control flow within a computer program.
What Are the Five Good Features of a Flowchart?
The following five features make a Flowchart an excellent visualization tool.
1) Easy to Understand
A flowchart helps you visualize how a process works and why specific actions should occur in a particular order.
2) Supports Communication
Communicating with others by drawing a flowchart may be faster and easier than talking out loud while following a verbal description. It makes an excellent tool for auditors while interviewing an auditee.
3) Makes Work Instructions Efficiently
Some organizations use a flowchart to communicate which person or group will perform a task. That way, everyone knows who's responsible for acting.
4) Helps Identify Problem Areas
Flowcharts help you identify problems areas in your organization. You'll find where the flow has been disrupted. An interruption can stem from anything ranging from poor organizational structure to unclear responsibilities.
5) Help Prevent Miscommunication
When using a flowchart, it's easy to see the information being shared. This prevents miscommunication.
Tools for Creating a Flowchart
Various tools can be used to create a flowchart.
1. Manual: Using a pen and paper: This method works well when trying to understand the process. This could be a starting point for creating any flowchart.
2. Microsoft Excel: After making a hand-drawn flowchart, you can use software such as Excel to clean it and make it more presentable.
3. Visio: Visio is the most commonly used software to make professionally looking flowcharts.
Flowcharts help us better understand processes. They're helpful because they allow us to communicate ideas visually easily.