Flowcharts as Gap Analysis and Bridging Tool

“The focus of gap analysis should be getting to the other side. If you bend-over to analyze a gap too long, you’ll probably fall into it.”― Ryan Lilly

An inquiry into the question ‘what is gap analysis‘ reveals it is a business management technique used to compare two different positions. A business operator that conducts gap analysis and bridging exercises seeks to analyze the difference between current state of business and the desired level of operations. This analysis is critical because it precedes multiple forms of business expansion; the analysis could also signal intent to devise an action plan by business operators. Further, a gap analysis can be conducted at a strategic level, wherein business operators seek to compare the condition of a business with the overall industry; such analysis, when conducted at an operational level, allows a business to compare its current state with the desired state of business performance. Flowcharts can help conduct gap analysis and bridging activities for the modern organization.

A simple graphical representation of a gap analysis and bridging exercise can emerge in the form of two lines of development, plotted against time and corporate performance, respectively. The passage of time can be plotted on the x-axis, while events delineating corporate development can appear on the y-axis. Relevant information, when positioned inside this graph, can help create a picture of the present condition of a business organization. Certain elements that represent performance targets can be positioned inside the graph; this position represents ambition on the part of business owners, as also growth in terms of business expansion. This position, when compared to the status of the organization, reveals the gap that forms the core of future gap analysis and bridging activities. The flowchart can be a canvas for such analyses; its terminal stages, when populated with information (and inputs), will enable said organization to attain a higher level of operations.

Lacunae in staff training could trigger deleterious effects on the performance of a business enterprise. An exercise in gap analysis and bridging could assist such an organization to detect and remediate lacunae. A flowchart designed for this purpose could commence at efforts to identify the performance gaps of staff members; a sequence of subsequent stages could list each of these gaps, classify these as training shortages, and project their impact on business performance. The dialogue deepens when the flowchart outlines the remedial measures that could be undertaken to address each of these gaps. The outcomes could include higher levels of training for individual staff members and sharper business performance for the overall organization. We note this instance of an inter-connected illustration spotlights the efficacy of deploying flowcharts in gap analysis and bridging initiatives.

Small and medium enterprises could conduct gap analysis and bridging as a means to upgrade business operations and expand the remit of an individual enterprise. Such business operators could examine the necessity of market information through a flowchart diagram. The various stages inside such a flowchart could include a problem definition, internal discussions within the organization, the analysis of certain sets of data, etc. Gaps in data collection could emerge as the missing link within said diagram; this event spotlights the actions that organizational actors must undertake to expand the business footprint and attract more customers. We note the designers of the illustration could implant colors on the missing link in an effort to attract the attention of readers. Additionally, this illustration emerges as a roadmap that points the way to short-term gains that can jumpstart the collective energies of organizational actors.

Any effort at gap analysis and bridging must acknowledge the interventional nature of the moment when gaps emerge inside a process diagram. Business operators that appreciate the criticality of computer technologies may acquaint themselves with error forms that signal breakages (or disruptions) inside software-driven programs. Such operators could design a swimlane diagram wherein each lane denotes – for instance – customers, order item forms, fulfilment, and error forms. A random event (such as materials out of stock) may emerge in the error form, thereby spotlighting a significant disruption in the smooth flow of business processes. The flowchart could classify this event as an error, which necessitates an immediate intervention as part of gap analysis and bridging activities. We note a series of such errors, should these erupt, signify deficiencies inside a business process, thereby pointing organizational actors to the requirement for overhauling business processes.

Gap analysis could comprise a central part of business strategies designed to effect process improvements. An operator of commercial cargo delivery services can initiate gap analysis and bridging efforts via flowcharts with a view to optimize and expand business processes. The flowchart, through its various phases, could describe key aspects of current business operations; an analysis could bring forth gaps in operation or service (or scope for improving the level of current operations). Such a flowchart can proceed through dual stages, each parallel to the other in the horizontal dimension. We note the second illustration emerges as a derivative of the first flowchart. The derivation may lack innate logic, but perfectly fills the gaps that occur in the first flowchart. Clearly, such an effort at gap analysis and bridging spotlights the benefit of devising flowcharts in the interests of business expansion.

Deficiency in planning could cast long shadows on business performance and erode the competitive edge of an organization. A gap analysis and bridging exercise, therefore, becomes mandatory to identify the locations of such deficiency. A flowchart diagram deployed for the purpose could examine planning stages and actions in significant detail. Such an illustration could reveal deficits in budget allocations, a failure to gauge the capabilities of competitors, a sub-par assessment of market potential, and weak application of entrepreneurial drive and vision. These insights, in turn, could yield action points that enable the sponsor organization to boost planning mechanisms. We note different businesses may design such a flowchart from different points of view; however, overhauling and strengthening the planning process remains the overarching objective in such a mission.

The flowcharts described in the paragraphs above trigger all manner of questions and queries as part of completing a gap analysis and bridging initiative. Questions posed by analysts could include ‘What critical decisions led to this point?‘ or ‘What could have we done differently?‘ or ‘What resources do we require in order to reach our target?‘ or ‘Do we need to set new objectives to bridge the gap?’. These questions (and their answers) comprise critical inputs that can help a business organization to attain higher targets and achieve new vistas in operational performance. The answers to these questions could form additional stages inside a flowchart, thereby elevating the illustration to the level of a business document. In addition, these questions could trigger soul-searching in the minds of corporate captains and business planners. Further, a proper evaluation of these queries could lead to far-reaching overhauls of key business processes and resetting time-bound performance objectives.

These lines of exploration and analyses set the stage for energetic actions that could unearth and address gaps in business management practices and business performance. Such actions, when undertaken prudently, could help address key concerns flagged by analysts that have access to high-level views of a business operation. Interesting insights may emerge in the course of conducting gap analysis; these must be complemented by subsequent planning and implementations in the interests of propelling a business to its intended destiny.

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