A Flowchart is a graphic diagram or map that illustrates the steps and decision points that make up a work process. It represents a common understanding of the process and enables the team to examine individual steps in order to identify problems and improvement opportunities.
Use a Flowchart to:
Flowcharts can depict a process at two or more levels – a high-level diagram that describes the overall process from the beginning to the ending point. The actual diagram for a high-level flowchart can be a series of phrases in sequential boxes. A low-level flow diagram contains more detail about the major steps in a process and can be constructed once the specific start and end points are defined. For lengthy, time-dependent processes, it may be helpful to create a mid-level flowchart.For example:
Basic Flowcharting Shapes and Symbols
Formal flowcharts use special shapes to represent different types of actions or steps in a process. Lines and arrows show the sequence of the steps, and the relationships among them. Some of the more frequently used shapes are described below. It is not necessary to use these symbols and shapes to create an effective flowchart.
The vast majority of flowcharts rely on just four 4 of the symbols: oval (End point), rectangle (Process), diamond (Decision), and circle (Connector). In fact, if you use other flowcharting shapes, many people will not know what they are for, so add a shape symbol key to your flowchart.
Things to keep in mind when creating flowcharts:
At decision points (diamonds), use a down arrow to show a positive workflow, and an arrow, typically going right from the shape for an alternative workflow or stop.