A guide to flowcharting
Flowcharts are one of the most commonly used diagrams to represent a process or workflow. They describe a process with a fixed sequence of working steps and illustrate complex processes step by step in a comprehensible shape.
The chart symbols described above serve a uniform structure of the processes and ensure a common understanding of the diagram. Depending on the objective and scope of the diagram, other shapes and symbols can also be used, as well as non-standardized forms. In practice, however, you should avoid an excessive use of different symbols in the chart and pay attention to a continuous use of the shapes in order to maintain consistency and process understanding for your team members.
With the superior flowchart, the focus is on the process flow with a consistent direction. Start and end are clearly defined. The individual steps are represented with different shapes and fields. The so-called low-flow diagram shows a basic overview of a business process but can include sub-steps or intermediate results as well.
Swimlane diagrams (cross-functional diagram)
Here, the process steps are divided into categorized columns. The columns are usually categorized into role, department, and process phase. Depending on the use, this swimlane representation is useful to distinguish affiliations and requirements faster.
Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN)
The standard for the representation of business processes: BPMN is considered a recognized modeling language in process management. There are various conventions and best practices that are specified. The representation method is based on the flowcharting but is used exclusively for business processes. You can find more information about BPMN here.
Checklist for creating your flowchart
When modeling process flows using flow chart templates, the following modeling rules need to be observed:
- There is a start and end event
- All symbols are clearly labeled
- The sequence is shown fluidly: from top to bottom or left to right
- The (connecting) arrows are not crossing each other
- All decisions have at least two outputs (e.g., yes/no)
- All activities are described with a noun and a verb (e.g., check invoice)
Advantages of using flowcharts
Using flowchart templates to illustrate workflows has many advantages, especially for companies with complex processes:
- Comprehensible presentation of current workflows
- Possibility of monitoring processes or data collections
- Analysis of processes and identification of improvement potentials
- Creation of a common understanding of the processes
- Holistic overview of all information, documents and resources of a process
- Integration of quality, document and risk management
Which software tools are suitable to create a flowchart?
While the first process representations, for example in computer science classes, are usually still configured manually using diagrams in a Word document, Excel or PowerPoint, companies largely use special software for this purpose. Here, a distinction must be made between free flowchart maker and professional flowchart software such as BIC Process Design. Modeling flowchart software like BIC Process Design make it possible to visualize complex processes quickly and easily with the help of an extensive selection of diagram types and symbols as well as an easy-to-use user interface. Integrated conformance checks ensure a consistent representation and uncover errors in the process chain. Procedures such as inserting, modifying, formatting, or deleting objects are all done in one click. With the integrated portal, all users have access to the released processes and are automatically informed by the software in case of changes in the flowchart tool. Collaboration functions enable easy exchange between the process participants and support a continuous improvement process. This is additionally strengthened by preconfigured reports and analyses that reliably reveal weak points and optimization potential. Automated governance workflows and integrated document and risk management ensure fully comprehensive and compliance control of your process flows.
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