Top Reasons to Use Flowcharts

“Decisions concerning covert actions are not often easily reached”- Pete Hoekstra

With the increasing competition and shrinking resources, business owners struggle on several counts and consistently achieving efficiency in the workplace is one such herculean task. It would make sense therefore, to use any resource, tool, or technology to ensure efficiency. Being able to streamline business processes not only makes workflow smoother, it also enhances productivity of the workforce. One of the simplest tools to restructure business processes is the graphical representation of a process – the flowchart. One of the main reasons to use flowcharts is the ability to communicate the working of a process without using any ambiguous words or jargon. Businesses across industries use flowcharts – computer programming, entertainment, science, healthcare, and many more. An in-depth understanding of how and where to use flowcharts can help a business operate optimally and gain maximum benefits.

Troubleshooting is one of the top and fundamental uses of flowcharts. Problems and bugs in a process can ruin the entire workflow, and without an understanding of the issues it would be impossible to resolve them. A troubleshooting flowchart helps the users to diagnose and resolve common process issues with ease and speed. When you use flowcharts for troubleshooting, they are usually in the form of decision trees, narrowing down a range of solutions through a series of criteria. A properly done troubleshooting flowchart can help to significantly reduce the time required to solve a problem. The software and electronics industries successfully use flowcharts to identify and sort out malfunctions, and can even use these diagrammatic representations to solve customer problems from remote locations. Such a flowchart with the introduction kit can help customers to troubleshoot simple problems without wasting time to call up the service personnel.

Businesses can use flowcharts to define a work process – meaning a pictorial representation of the working of a process from the beginning to the end, and therefore presented in a sequence. In the realm of training, businesses use flowcharts of this type to teach newbies the current process and also to make an evaluation of the efficacy of a process and make changes as required. Symbols added to a work process flowchart are used to represent persons / teams responsible for certain actions, tasks, and decisions during the process.

Business processes and workflows need constant management, attention, and improvement and hence cannot be left to chance. Use flowcharts for the essential tasks of workflow management and consistent improvement. This will help to define the current status of processes, including inefficiencies and time wasters, and make the required enhancements thereby improving the process manifold.

Another great reason to use flowcharts is the ability to identify the time taken to complete each task within a specified process. This type of flowchart allows the user to add columns indicating the method to ‘time’ each process, thereby making it easier to assess the amount of time each process takes to complete. When several cross-functional teams work on a project, using such a flowchart will ensure that each team works within the deadlines of each task, which in turn will allow timely project completion.

Concept mapping is another way to use flowcharts, allowing those involved in a project to convey their ideas in a pictorial form. It is a great method during brainstorming to structure the knowledge sharing and depict the ideas as pictures. Concept mapping is also referred to as concept webbing or mental mapping. In a group process especially, use flowcharts to facilitate a structured approach, and ensure that all those in the group are able to articulate their ideas, and yield a useful group product. Specialized computer programs can ‘read’ the data and analyze it accurately. Through this method, each person in the group would know that they have contributed, raising levels of engagement and involvement. When each person in the group works towards a common business goal, it becomes a lot easier for a company to achieve its objectives, retain its staff, and experience sustainable success.

Every business today must ensure that their accounts and finances are transparent and clearly documented. This is a regulatory requirement, and those failing can suffer huge losses both in terms of money and reputation. Use flowcharts as an accounting tool to document the processes within your finance and accounting functions. In addition, the use of flowcharts is one of the mandated tools for quality management and hence it would make sense for businesses to make flowcharts a part of their overall regulatory and quality control strategy. Ensure that the teams of both functions understand the importance of and how to use flowcharts to maintain transparency, integrity, and quality at all times.

The use of flowcharts is commonplace when administering process and or project training. Depicting complex processes through a flowchart is a great way to reduce complexity, increase understanding, and make any changes to the process as and when required. Use flowcharts as a high quality visual aid when training new employees on current processes or existing employees on new / modified processes. In fact, business training kits and training materials today usually have flowcharts as one of the tools to disseminate knowledge and ensure that the message they want to convey is clear and simple to understand.

The use of flowcharts is prevalent in computer programming as well. Professionals in the realm of data processing use flowcharts to add depth, meaning, and information in their programming logic. Complex program logic can be effectively shaped and demonstrated by using flowcharts. When designing UI (user interface), the use of flowcharts helps to ‘diagram’ the experiences of the users when using a program. The diagrammatic representation helps programmers remove the issues, which can lower the experience of users, thereby creating superior quality programs for the future. Capturing user issues as a flowchart would also help future programmers to remain aware of the possible problems and work to eliminate them at the designing stage.

Use flowcharts to reduce the amount of time required for anyone to read through all the processes existing in a business or a project. When the steps / tasks of a process are depicted as symbols, rather than long drawn out notes, it makes auditing easier, faster, and more accurate, free of confusion and ambiguity.

The rise in the use of flowcharts is not a surprising phenomenon. The simplicity of this tool and the number of types of flowcharts, symbols, and methods make it a popular and in demand tool. Today both businesses and customers are rushed – competing with several factors to stay ahead. Any tool or device or anything that can help them forge ahead, while gaining maximum benefit will be high on their list of priorities and they would be more likely to use it. With so many ways to use flowcharts, their efficacy across businesses and industries, and the fact that simplify the toughest processes and project stages, make them a highly valued and almost indispensable tool. Customers prefer to work with companies that work innovatively, speedily and offer solutions to their problems – professionally and personally. It therefore, makes business sense to incorporate the use of flowcharts not only to enhance their own processes, but also to heighten user experiences and user interfaces for the products they release to the market.

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