Producing Quality Flowcharts – Three Mistakes to Avoid

Among the best things about systems is that they can be quickly reduced to a graphical representation. You don’t have to read about the processes and logically assemble them in your mind; you can look at a flowchart and “see” how the event operates.

A good flowchart is worth several times its weight in gold in the world of systems. It clarifies the system. This communicates processes to those who need to understand them. It provides an instantly interpretable and adjustable road map that allows with regard to systems review and improvement.

An undesirable flowchart, on the other hand, can be an unmitigated catastrophe. When the visual version of your system is incorrectly assembled, it can lead to the slew of problems. Those involved in carrying out its steps may misinterpret or misunderstand their responsibilities. An undesirable chart may make it harder to identify serious planning flaws. Weak efforts make it more difficult to hone techniques for maximum effectiveness.

While some flowchart goofs are worse than others, three stand out as common sources of confusion.

Flow Inconsistency. Every flowchart needs to move in the right direction. Two conventions determine the proper direction associated with flow. Either you move through top-to-bottom or you move from right-to-left. When a flowchart features elements which are moving in different directions, interpretation can be very confusing. Violating the norms furthermore makes it more difficult for people to get a grasp on your system even if you’re consistently “moving in the wrong direction”.

Image Sameness. This is a common problem in flowcharts generated by people who are just getting their feet wet in the wonderful world of systems. They’re doing their best to plan and organize, but they don’t really speak the “visual language” of flowcharting. They use circles, rectangles, diamonds and ovals indiscriminately or even utilize one symbol for practically everything. There is a fairly standardized method of drawing up flowcharts and virtually anyone will be able to decipher a chart created with ANSI standards in mind. When you “do your own thing” in terms of presentation, it can be confusing to those who may “speak the language” and frustrating to those just learning it. You can find quick explanations of which shapes to use to get what purposes and you should do so.

Branch Inconsistency. We mentioned the chaos of work flow running in every single direction. It’s just as important to try to keep consistency in the direction of individual branches within your flowchart. For instance, many flowcharts have got frequent “true/false” or “yes/no” parts. A smart chart will have all “true” branches flowing out of the same aspect of the decision symbols. Every time a person encounter a “true”, the path may emerge from the bottom of the sign. Every “false” response might guide out of the symbol’s right side. Graphs that lack branch consistency may increase the likelihood of user error and to more clearly communicate the structure of the system.

There’s more to a great flowchart than directional circulation, proper symbol use and branch consistency. If you are doing things the proper way on all three of these fronts, however , you will be more likely to generate a strong and usable than are those who else make mistakes in these areas.

Dr Bradley W. Semp is the world’s leading authority on creating and leveraging Human-Centric Systems to propel companies in the 21st century. Brad and his team assist mission-driven businesses to find FREEDOM plus CASHFLOW to do what they love to do through the development of systems that facilitate obsessed customer movements and devoted team members.

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