Flow charts are easy-to-understand diagrams showing how steps in a process fit together. This makes them useful tools for communicating how processes work, and for clearly documenting how a particular job is done. Furthermore, the act of mapping a process out in flow chart format helps you clarify your understanding of the process, and helps you think about where the process can be improved. A flow chart can therefore be used to: •Define and analyze processes. •Build a step-by-step picture of the process for analysis, discussion, or communication. Define, standardize or find areas for improvement in a process Also, by conveying the information or processes in a step-by-step flow, you can then concentrate more intently on each individual step, without feeling overwhelmed by the bigger picture. I’ve designed a flowchart for one daily activity – The activity I chose is “Being on Time”. When I am getting ready to leave, and usually rushing, a ringing telephone controls my time, often making me late. Controlling this interruption is a necessity.
I have one telephone; one answering machine connected; and I do have caller id on my telephone service. In my flow chart, Info Blocks are rectangle shaped and there will be four info blocks. The first Info Block 1 contains the words “Telephone rings”. Info Block 2 contains the words: “let it go to answering machine”. Info Block 3 contains the words “Return call when convenient”. Decisions blocks are diamond shaped with all “yes” answers continuing down. All “no” answers should go either right or left.
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Decision Block 2 contains words “Is this a Busy Time? ” Decision Block 2 contains words “Does caller Id give me caller name? ” Decision Block 3 contains the words: “Is this call important to me? ” There are 3 “yes answers and they go down. The first “no answer goes to the right, then clear down to last Info Block 4. The second no goes left to Info Block 2, then on dow to next Info Block 3. That path ends there. Rectangle Info block 1 “Telephone rings” Decision block 1 “Is this a busy time? ” No ? oes right, then down to bottom path to Info Block 4, and I answer phone and take the call Yes ? take path straight down to Decision Block 2 Decision block 2 “Does caller ID give caller No ? goes left path, then down to Info Block 2, and on to Info Block 3.
Yes ? take path straight down to to Decision Block 3 Decision Block 3 “Is this call important to me? ” No ? go left to path for Info Block 2, and on to Info Block 3. Yes ? take path straight down to Info Block 4 Rectangle Info Block 4 “Answer phone & take call. ” Info Block 2 contains words “let it go to answering machine” Info Block 3 contains words “call person back when convenient”
In conclusion, a flowchart is a picture of the separate steps of a process in sequential order. Elements that may be included are: sequence of actions, materials or services entering or leaving the process (inputs and outputs), decisions that must be made, people who become involved, time involved at each step and/or process measurements. The process described can be anything: a manufacturing process, an administrative or service process, a project plan. This is a generic tool that can be adapted for a wide variety of purposes.
Generally, a flowchart is used to accomplish any of the following tasks: •To develop understanding of how a process is done. •To study a process for improvement. •To communicate to others how a process is done. •When better communication is needed between people involved with the same process. •To document a process. •When planning a project. Some considerations to account for when designing a flowchart include: •Don’t worry too much about drawing the flowchart the “right way. ” The right way is the way that helps those involved understand the process. •Identify and involve in the flowcharting process all key people involved with the process.
This includes those who do the work in the process: suppliers, customers and supervisors. Involve them in the actual flowcharting sessions by interviewing them before the sessions and/or by showing them the developing flowchart between work sessions and obtaining their feedback. •Do not assign a “technical expert” to draw the flowchart. People who actually perform the process should do it. •Computer software is available for drawing flowcharts. Software is useful for drawing a neat final diagram, but the method given here works better for the messy initial stages of creating the flowchart.