A process flow diagram is a graphical representation of a process, showing the steps involved in the process. It describes how information flows through a process and which decisions are made during that process.
Using process flow diagrams and process maps can help businesses and organizations better understand how processes, procedures, and tasks work together to create a product or service that is useful to the public. Once process flow diagrams, they can be used to identify and eliminate redundant processes and procedures that add cost but do not add value to the process.
Also called flow diagrams, they also help reveal information about an organization’s process performance by identifying opportunities for improvement in process workflow, cycle time, the accuracy of process steps, etc. Process flows allow organizations to view a snapshot of their process from the perspective of a single step in the process or from an overall process perspective. In creating process flows, time is one of the important factors that should be considered because most businesses want to reduce their operational costs by reducing the elapsed time involved in carrying out a particular business transaction or activity. The idea behind understanding this factor is to find ways on how a process can be improved by process mapping.
The following steps allow you to create a process flow diagram for a typical process.
1. Identify the process flowchart scope.
In creating a flow diagram, determine which aspect of the process is to be mapped and identified in the diagram. A good way to begin mapping is by determining why you’re doing it. Businesses often map their processes and procedures in order to: (a) understand how they work; (b) improve them, or (c) automate them.
2. Do your research before mapping the flow diagram..
Gather all necessary information about your organization’s business processes or for what purpose the flowchart is being created. In order to create a process flow diagram or map, you must have a good understanding of the work being done within your organization, so begin by talking with employees who are involved in specific tasks and activities related to various types of business processes. Also, speak with managers and other stakeholders to gain insight into how each process operates from start to finish as well as what steps can be improved upon.
3. Determine process actors in your data flow diagram.
Include any person, device, application, department, etc., involved in your organization’s business processes.
4. Identify process tasks and steps – follow flowchart examples.
Once you’ve included all major actors in the diagram, identify and list each step within the process flow map. Be sure to include important decision points within the process flow diagram because these decisions can impact how information is routed through a step or series of steps. Decision points are identified by inverting decision diamond shapes at specific points on the chart where decisions are made based upon one or more preceding steps. It is best to look for examples that would be applicable to your needs so you will never go wrong.
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5. Map the process flow chart.
Using the task identified in Step 4 by identifying the main tasks and decisions at each step in the process flow, i.e., note any decision points where different outcomes result in alternative actions taken by the process participants.
6. Include appropriate symbols, notations, and components.
As this example above shows, the appropriate symbols, notations, and components should be used at each stage of creating your business process maps including (a) A start/end symbol, which designates where your process begins and ends; (b) A decision symbol, which designates a point at which the process must choose between two paths; (c) Check symbols, which present an opportunity to verify or check information, such as for accuracy or completeness; and (d) Data flows. Data flow diagrams are used to depict the movement of data through each step in your diagram.
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7. Identify all relevant process dependencies.
Also, make sure to include any pertinent information related to your organization’s business processes that may be needed by actors at various points throughout business flow diagrams and process maps. This can be done by including: (a) Preconditions, conditions required before a task begins, such as other tasks completed first, approvals received, etc.; and (b) Postconditions, conditions that must be met after processing of a task, such as approvals from other departments received, etc.
So there you have it! A comprehensive guide to creating a process flow chart. We hope this article was helpful and that you feel more confident in your ability to create charts and diagrams like these. If you’re looking for a tool to help make the process easier, we suggest trying out Venngage. With our easy-to-use templates and drag-and-drop interface, you can create beautiful process flow charts in no time. What are you waiting for? Start diagramming today!