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Process Flow Charts Building - Introduction

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Flow Charts - Process Analysis Tools

 

When we want to understand a work process or some part of a process and analyse it; flowchart is one of the widely accepted tools.

 

It was introduced by Frank Gilberth in 1921, and they were called “Process Flow Charts” at the beginning.

 

It help to visualize "what is going on" and help understand a process flow, thanks to standardize shapes and sequence of logic behind it.

 

As an example, this graphic (taken from Wikipedia) shows simple flowchart representing a process for dealing with a non-functioning lamp.

 

 

 

What is Process Flowcharts

 

A flowchart is a picture of the separate steps of a process in sequential order.

 

It including materials or services that enter (input) or leave (output) the process, what decisions to be made, who’s involved at each step; and process measurement/parameters.

 

Consider flowcharts as basic building block. On a building if architect draw a blueprint before starting constructs a building; then on a program (most of) programmer draw a flowchart before writing a code.

 

Process vs Procedure

 

Often terms of Process are Procedure is being confused from one another. The distinctions between the two are:

 

Process

 

·         Any activities that use resources to transform inputs into outputs.

 

·         It must have defined (but not necessarily measurable) objective, input, output, activities, and resources. 

 

·         These questions should be arising when defining a process:

 

o   Activities

 

§  What is the objective or goal of this process?

 

§  How those goals are carried out?

 

o   Inputs

 

§  What resource(s) needed to start the activities on each process?

 

§  From where it come from?

 

o   Outputs

 

§  Who receives the result of your work?

 

§  How to validate result of activities (whether or not it meet initial objectives).

 

Procedure

 

·         Outline steps-by-step instruction that must be taken by an organizational element to perform specific task necessary to meet standard.

 

·         Maintain control over the outcome

 

·         Define specifically how process will be implemented in a given situation.

 

·         Compliance with established procedure is mandatory to ensure consistency and accuracy.

 

Most Common Flow Charts Symbol

                         

 

Flowchart Flow: Building Initial Process

If we’re working to define a process with a large group of people and in a discussion (when collaboration and brainstorming are needed); this can be done by using (1) pieces of sticky notes or cards – each piece will represents a single activity, (2) large sheet of base-paper to stick those pieces of notes/cards, (3) marker pen.

This is not just for collaboration sake; it will make mapping complex process flow easier, some people call this “the yellow sticky method”.

But if we choose not to use this method, I’ll advise to use a basic pen & paper to draw a process with hand. It has proven to safe myself some frustration on drawing with flowchart software; it's faster and saves me time in the end (well at least it works for me ^)^ most of the time).

1.       Agreed on process to be defined and write down title or name on top of the base-paper.

2.       Define process scopes.

·         Where does process starts, when does it start? Where or when does it end?

·         Decide how much level of detail to be included in the diagram.

3.       Brainstorm the activities. Write each on a card or sticky note (or on a process box on your flow charting software, if we’re no using “the yellow sticky method” above).
Take a note on its order but not put too much emphasizes; at this point it is not too important.

4.       Arrange activities or process above in proper order.

5.       When all activities are included and have correct order, start draw arrows to show the flow of the process.

Review the flowchart to see if process is drawn accurately. Perform a walk through using the actual process. This step is best to be done with the actual people whose actually perform the job/process itself.                                                                                                                                   

 

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