What Is A Flowchart and What Are The Different Types of Flowcharts?

different types of flowcharts

Photo by Christina Morillo

A flowchart is a “formalized graphic representation” that shows a workflow or process or a solution to a given problem. A modern flowchart is a business tool that outlines multiple steps in a linear progression. Each step moves towards a fixed objective. Boxes represent each stage in a flowchart with arrows that connect each successive stage.

You can use a flowchart to represent a logic sequence, a manufacturing process, or an organizational chart. The common intent behind creating a flowchart is to explain the various stages of a process or a business project to audiences. Businesses can create a flow chart to address business problems and explore possible solutions. A flowchart template can help analysts and business organizations to cast various processes in a visual manner. If you need a product knowledge tool, you can use the interactive decision trees.

Now, let’s have a look at the different types of flowcharts and their uses.

Different Types of Flowcharts

You can assign specialized names to flowcharts based on their use in various industries. Different types of flowcharts serve different purposes. Some of these flowcharts include the process flowchart, the process map, the functional flowchart, business process mapping, business process modeling and notation (BPMN), and process flow diagrams (PFD). Other forms of flowcharts include data flow diagrams (DFDs) and unified modeling language (UML) activity diagrams.

Flowcharts for Industrial and Business Processes

Different types of flowcharts are used to document and analyze business and industrial processes. These enable firms to be visible in the proverbial ‘nuts and bolts’ of a business process or industrial operation. Commercial organizations can deploy different types of flowcharts to spot potential flaws when they assess the various stages of such processes in a flowchart.

In addition, the data depicted on flowcharts can help standardize the various stages of a process for efficiency and quality. This aspect is useful in manufacturing industries. The standardization can help reduce process costs, indicate points of resource wastage, identify bottlenecks, and spotlight avenues for higher investment. Further, the graphic information depicted on a flowchart can help enterprises to communicate a process for training purposes to different components of an organization.

Education Flowcharts

In education, different types of flowcharts enable academics to plan coursework and other academic requirements. The diagrammatic representation of different types of flowcharts allows educators and school administrators to create lesson plans for the different grades in a school. Flowcharts also help class teachers to organize a group project and assign individual responsibilities to students. This helps students to coordinate their efforts and labor toward achieving a common objective.

Teachers and instructors of animal biology can deploy flowcharts to track the various stages of the digestive process. Professors of medicine can create different types of flowcharts that allow students of medicine to map symptoms of various diseases and disorders. Students of science can collaborate to create flowcharts that analyze various scientific phenomenon and their effect on the physical world. In light of the above, we may state flowcharts are an important tool that furthers the cause of education and academic research.

Document Flowcharts

These flowcharts display the flow of paper and electronic documents among the various units of a business. These flowcharts represent a powerful tool. They help analysts understand, analyze, document, and improve various work processes inside an organization. Of the different types of flowcharts, you read the document flowcharts from left to right. They indicate the flow of documents through various business units. Users can build a document flowchart by dividing the said chart into columns and departments that operate inside an organization.

The document flowchart makes it easy for workers and managers to identify the placement of internal controls inside an organization. Business organizations can use document flowcharts to apprise the management team with facts that are independent of assumptions and projections. These devices also offer a clear view of business processes and empower a business to achieve business objectives.

Data Flowcharts

 Also known as a Data Flow Diagram (DFD), these flowcharts are a graphical representation of the “flow” of data inside an information system. We note a DFD is a preliminary step that helps create an overview of the system without revealing any amount of graphic detail. The typical data flowchart primarily spotlights the channels through which data is transmitted within a system.

Modern DFDs emerged in the 1970s in the field of software development. The modern data flow diagrams use two distinct classes of notations. These notations depict processes, data stores, data flows, and external entities. The Yourdon and Coad model uses circles to represent processes. DFDs based on the Gane and Sarson system depict processes as squares with rounded corners.

System Flowcharts

 These visual representations display how data flows inside a system and the execution of decisions to control events. System flowcharts use symbols that are connected to illustrate what happens to various points of data inside a system. For instance, software architects can use different types of flowcharts. However, a system flowchart is optimal to demonstrate the flow of data through operations such as data entry, software programs, storage media, microprocessors and microcontrollers, and communications networks.

A system flowchart can depict the mechanism of cruise control in a modern automobile. It depicts inputs such as fuel flow to the engine, the operation of speed sensors, how the system responds when the car is gaining momentum, etc. In addition, system flowcharts help us understand processes that animate aircraft control, central heating mechanisms, and automatic washing machines.

Program Flowcharts

These diagrams are created with standard graphic symbols that represent a series of coded instructions. The flowcharts show the internal workings of a modern computerized system. To create a modern program flowchart, you need four basic symbols. These include start, process, decision, and end. Program flowcharts help software developers and architects locate bugs inside pieces of computer code. These devices help to improve coding efficiency and communicate the basic logic of a system to reviewers and developers.

Process Flow Diagrams

 Also known as a process flowchart, these visual devices illuminate important relationships shared between the major components built inside an industrial plant. They are used by the chemical engineering and process engineering industry to improve a process or create new processes. Modern process flow diagrams use a series of symbols and notations to visually narrate an industrial process.

A process flow diagram helps to document industrial processes with a view to promoting better understanding, reinforcing quality control mechanisms, and training new employees. Businesses can use these devices to implement optimum efficiency and repeatability in a business process. A well-built process flow diagram helps to spotlight bottlenecks and highlights process inefficiencies.

Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN)

 This is a flowchart method that models the many steps inside a planned business process. It depicts a detailed sequence of business activities and information flows that are required to complete public and private business processes. BPMN was originally developed to help cover the communication gaps that may operate between the various departments within an organization. This flowchart model enables stakeholders to gain a deeper understanding of a certain process. The BPMN enables process implementers to achieve a precise implementation of a process. Business analysts, process participants, managers, consultants, and technical developers use it.

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