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Drafting a Process Flowchart

Defining the scope of the process flowchart.
The first step is to define the scope of the process flowchart. Defining the scope is absolutely critical. Often activities that impact a process can happen at a much later date, for example product being returned, customer complaints, a patient returning back to a hospital months after being discharged. If a process is to be documented via a process flow chart, will all impacts on the process be considered? If they are included, will be process be overly complex? If they are not considered, will important aspects of the process be forgotten?

Creating an overview “block-diagram” process flowchart.
The next step is to identify all the key or significant activities that are performed within the process. With the key activities and key potential inter-relationship between the process and external factors identified, then a top level “block-diagram” process flow can be drafted. The “block-diagram” effectively promotes a brainstorm approach to flowchart development. As more inputs are received from process users, the level of detail will increase.

Drafting a Process Flowchart

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Type of flow chart to be created.

With a good level of detail about the process obtained, the next step is to determine the optimum type of flowchart. There are two main approaches to charting a process, either use a “standard” or a “swimlane” approach. The standard chart details the major activities, decision, actions. Where there are multiple functional groups impacting on the process the swimlane format can clearly show the various inputs and activities associated with each group.  In the swinlane format, all the stages in the process flow are placed into the respective functional lanes. The lanes can be horizontal of vertical.


“Standard” flowchart.

Constructing a Process Flowchart

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“Swimlane” flowchart.

The swimlane flow can provide more information without adding complexity. In fact the extra information can often ease process understanding if presented in a clear manner.


Making a Process Flowchart

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Drafting the Process Flowchart.
All activities connected with the process must be identified.

Start to draft out the flowchart putting the steps in sequence. Every route through the flowchart must lead to an endpoint and each process step must have at least one output line unless there is a termination point, for example, “data entry” may be considered an end point within the process, another process may use this information, but that could be outside the scope of the process you are defining. Each decision diamond should have only two outputs. You may need to have a number of decision diamonds following on from each other to address the range of considerations being assessed.

Flowchart verification.
With the flowchart drafted, it is important to confirm that the chart represents actual practice.

Flow Chart – Application
In examining a process you need to ask questions such as :

what is the purpose?

where is it performed?

what is the sequence of the steps involved?

who are the people?

what are the methods applied?

Etc., etc…

…….the purpose being to eliminate, combine, rearrange, simplify, communicate, ….


TQM Tools and Techniques Full Details

Quality Improvement Techniques

Information & Training. | Total Quality Management Tools and Techniques …

        • Continuous improvement utilizing Analytical Techniques.
        • Brainstorming
        • 5 why’s analysis
        • Process Flow Diagrams/Flowcharts/Process Mapping
        • Check sheets /Check Lists
        • Run charts
        • Histograms
        • Scatter Diagrams/Scatter Plot
        • Cause and Effect/Fishbone/Ishikawa Diagrams
        • Identifying sources & causes of variation
        • Control/Shewart Charts/DPU Charts
        • Cpk and Ppk Analysis
        • Pareto Analysis
        • Bottleneck Analysis
        • Benchmarking
        • FMEA
        • FTA
        • HAZOP
        • SIPOC
        • Etc. Etc.
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