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9 Do’s and Don’ts of Using a Process Flow Chart in Business

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Every business should be able to identify and document its processes. Processes should be a part of your business model as they help create a better flow of knowledge, aid in communication between employees, reduce redundancies, improve financials through cost-cutting measures, and ensure that each customer receives the same type of quality service no matter who is providing it.  A visual representation of these processes through what is called “Process Flow Charts” brings all the components together into one central location where adjustments can be made with ease. This article will highlight some Do’s and Don’ts when using process flow charts for your specific business needs.

1)  Don’t Just Use Pictures.

The old adage says, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” This is true for process flow charts, but only to a certain extent. These charts are more than just pictures and shapes; they also include labels and names that help tell the story within the chart itself. The most crucial component in creating a flowchart is the work steps and activities that make up each process. Along with making sure you understand these processes, make sure anyone else who will be viewing your process flow chart understands them as well.

2) Don’t Overdo It.

Process flow charts can get large rather quickly when they become too complex. When figuring out how many tasks should go into each box in your diagram, remember to keep it simple, or else you might develop unnecessary complexity. Of course, there is always a balance between overdoing it and keeping things simple. So, if you have trouble finding that balance, have some extra sets of eyes review your chart to make sure it makes sense.

 Process Flow Chart in Business

3) Do Use the Appropriate Level of Detail.

Process flow charts exist in two different but equally important forms; High-Level Process Charts (HIPCs) and Detailed Process Charts (DPCs). HIPCs are used for understanding overall flow or enterprise-wide processes. At the same time, DPCs are more specific to each work step within each process. Think of HIPCs like blueprints while DPCs function like instructions for building something with those blueprints; all instructions must be followed precisely. Without this duality, you will end up with either redundant information or confusing too vague steps. For HIPCs, keep the number of tasks to around 5, while DPCs should have no more than 20 per box.

 Process Flow Chart in Business

4) Don’t Simply Draw Boxes and Start Writing.

This is a common mistake seen when tasked to make a workflow chart. People tend to look at process flowcharts online or in other documentation and just copy the shapes onto their own workspace without considering what they are trying to accomplish overall. Instead, think about your overall goal of creating this type of graphical representation of your processes and use proper flowchart symbols before actually drawing anything out on paper or using any software tools to develop it for you. This will help ensure that

you are following the proper steps in the correct order to accomplish what you are trying to get done.

5) Do Utilize Your Business Knowledge.

If uncertainty exists about a specific task or step within your process, don’t just leave it blank. Doing so will make other employees wonder why it is left empty while also causing confusion for anyone who views the chart afterward. Also, different types of process flow charts should be used for different purposes. For example, High-Level Process Charts should show continuity between processes. At the same time, Detailed Process Charts should communicate how information flows through these processes. Make sure each type of flow chart serves its own distinct purpose without confusing anyone in the process.

6) Don’t Go Overboard with Colors and Shapes.

There is no need to paint the walls with color schemes, while there is also no need to include any shapes that don’t actually help you tell the story of your process flow. When creating your diagram, look up flow chart examples. Go for simplicity over trying to get fancy by including extraneous things in your chart. Any shapes included should be relevant and used efficiently so everyone can clearly see what they are looking at.

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7) Do Use Simple Text.

Don’t feel like you have to fill up an entire line because it’s not actually necessary. Make sure your words all fit correctly on the lines provided and leave out anything unnecessary. Stick with getting your point across without adding fluff or filler content into the mix. Make sure task steps can be easily understood, and any acronyms or codes used in place of words are defined for readers who aren’t aware of what they mean.

8) Don’t Forget To Add Numbering.

If you have a group of steps that must be done in order, they should also be numbered, so people know where to start and everything must go. Task steps without numbers or random ones assigned will cause confusion. This will lead to missed tasks because the person reading doesn’t know if they just skipped over something important. If things need to be done in a specific order, number them appropriately. Add corresponding task names on the same line as each number for easy reference points during the review of your flow chart process.

9) Do Make the Process Flow Chart User-Friendly.

These aren’t just there for your viewing pleasure. They are actually something you need to make available to others in your department or company, so everyone understands how their jobs contribute towards the bigger picture. Make sure your colleagues can easily access and read these documents to avoid confusion if it is difficult for them to understand what is written on them. Having one of these charts is to help people follow along even without explanations.  Try not to get too fancy while making things as simplistic as possible to avoid design flaws that won’t help anyone down the road.

 Process Flow Chart in Business

 

These guidelines are easier done than reading about them. To make it easier, do away with an online graph maker. Platforms like Venngage make it incredibly easy to customize flowcharts and graphs with their pre-made templates— no need to worry about making one from scratch! Check it out for yourself!

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