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Everything You Should Know About Flow Charts

Flow Charts

Do you know that a simple flow chart can help your business unimaginably?

A flow chart is a visual representation of a company— operates and functions— physically and internally. It shows different steps of various processes in sequential order and is used generally in presenting operation, algorithm, and work processes.

What Are The Symbols Used In Flow Charts?

If you have seen a flow chart before, you probably notice several different colors, lines, and shapes. These are flowchart symbols, and each sign carries a distinct function.

Here are various flowchart symbols you should know:

  • Terminator symbol 

This symbol stands for the start and end of a process. It has an elongated circle shape.

  • Process symbol 

It stands for a standard process or definite steps. It has a rectangular box shape.

  • Decision symbol

It stands for a branching-out of processes indicating different situations, sub-processes, and cases regarding a particular operation. A decision symbol uses a diamond shape.

  • Data symbol 

It indicates every information that enters (data input) and leaves (data output) the system. For example, client orders a product (input) and the company delivers the order (output). This process uses the parallelogram shape.

  • Document symbol 

It indicates a document or report in the process. It has a rectangle with a wave-like base.

  • Auto-process symbol 

It indicates a step or process that may occur automatically. It has a rounded rectangle shape.

  • On-page reference symbol 

It indicates a jump in the process. It usually contains one letter inside and takes the shape of a small circle.

  • Manual input symbol 

It indicates a prompt user action that data have to place in the system. It uses a rectangle with an inclined top from left to right.

  • Direct data symbol

It indicates the data that can be stored and accessed directly. In short, it signifies your system’s hard drive. This takes the horizontal cylinder shape.

  • Flow symbol 

It indicates the flow or sequence of the process. It is the line used to connect different steps, and it is also known as a connector.

  • Delay symbol 

It indicates a delay in the process. It uses the bottleneck shape.

What Are The Benefits Of Flow Charts?

Flow charts are the most utilized type of diagram because it’s simple and easy to create and understand. Furthermore, here are some benefits you should know:

  • It allows you to easily and quickly identify, understand, and visualize complex processes.
  • It allows you to determine which steps are unnecessary, such as delays, useless storage and transportation, repetitive work and duplication, unnecessary expenses, and communication breakdowns.
  • It allows your team member to understand different processes and gain insights. Furthermore, they may use it to gather data, identify possible resources, and analyze critical problems.
  • It may serve as a basis for creating and designing other processes.
  • It allows you to formulate ideas in an organized manner.

What Are The Types Of Flow Charts?

  • Process Flow Chart 

It is the most common and versatile among other flow charts. It allows you to see how the process works and plan the next one. If you’re new to flowcharting, you may want to try this type before others and understand how it works properly.

  • Workflow Diagram

It utilizes to understand how data flows within your business. Also, it uses to train employees, identify potential problems, and clarify complex operations.

  • Swimlane Flow Chart

This type describes the communication between organization departments and areas. It helps you to identify which department lacks collaboration and communication.

  • Data Flow Chart 

It is likely to know where data flows in and out of the system and is commonly most used in software development.

What Are The Best Practices To Consider In Making Flow Charts?

Flow charts are easy to create, but it doesn’t mean that it is instantly readable and clear for other people. That’s why everyone needs to know the primary and correct way of creating and designing a flow chart. If your teammate can’t understand it, then what’s the use of making it?

So, here are some tips to help you create a logical and straightforward flow chart:   

  • Check if your flow chart starts with a triggering function. It could be a phrase written inside the terminator symbol.
  • Make sure that your flow chart has an endpoint. It could be multiple endpoints for the different processes within a single flow chart.
  • Make sure that every decision step connects to another process, and it should not be left alone. It could be the following step or the terminator.
  • Ensure the consistent flow of ideas and steps in your flow chart. For example, the first yes or no question is in consecutive order. So, the next ‘yes or no’ question should be in the same order and ‘no or yes.’
  • Make sure that your flow chart has no crossing lines. It will create confusion that may disrupt the process flow. So, organize the flow of your process clearly and correctly.
  • Check and see if different processes have an appropriate symbol. You want to avoid confusion since every sign has a unique function.
  • Make your flow chart smooth and natural. If it’s a large flow chart, you may chop it into small and multiple processes. If there’s a crucial process involved, you may separate it in the main flowchart.
  • Simplify language readability. As much as possible, do not use a complicated phrase and keep every process simple. For example, you may use the term ‘Submit Application’ instead of ‘Submit Your Application Here.’
  • Consistency is the key to a successful flow chart, so ensure that every size, font, and shape is applied appropriately.

These are essential tips to guarantee that your flow chart is easy to understand, read, and visualize. So, remember these tips when you create a new flow chart for your business plan.

Final Words

The primary function of a flow chart is to create a visual representation of every process and workflow that will make your business run. With the help of flow charts, your business productivity rate may increase, and communication may run smoothly. That’s why flow charts are essential in most industries.

However, be confirmed that every process and flow is consistent and easy to understand. Additionally, you may use the tips presented above to make your flow charts readable.

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