Flowcharts – What They Are and How to Use Them

Many of us use flowcharts in our daily work – indeed the creation plus deployment of a flowchart is one of the most typical tasks in business today. But so what do we mean by a flowchart, and what is it supposed to do?

Well, flowcharts can be used to analyze, design, document or control a process in a wide variety of fields. Illustrations could include a Recruitment or Construction process, the logical procedure in just a piece of software, or a process in an business such as Health & Safety, Equal Opportunities, Conciliation & Arbitration or even Social Services. There are several derivatives of the basic flowchart including the Workflow Plan,

A flowchart could be defined as the pictorial representation of a process where the steps are symbolized by styles – in other words a diagram that will explains the steps in a procedure. Every shape should link to its neighbor by a connector line, and often these have arrow heads to describe the particular direction of flow.

Each flowchart should ideally begin with a Terminator shape, from which the next step should be connected. Each shape should be indicative of the specific stage in the process and there are conventions for each of these, the most common getting the rectangular “Process” shape. Many others exist, however , including shapes representing Data, Documents and Decisions. Choice shapes are diamonds, each of the four corners (or nodes) being whether link from the preceding shape or even action to be taken in the next stage according to the decision.

Flowcharts can be quickly created in many computer software programs; even recent versions of Microsoft Word plus PowerPoint contain Smart Shapes that will allow users to rapidly put in a flowchart into a document associated with presentation. Specialist Flowchart Diagramming software also exists but for sheer versatility and the ability to connect data to shapes I would put my cash on Microsoft Visio. It has a huge range of ready-made stencils containing all of the shapes you could possibly need (and the ability to create your own if you wish), and incredibly slick automatic connection features. Visio also allow a flowchart that will dexcribes one process to become a part of a larger process and to integrate with it via a hyperlink from a button around the drawing page.