A process map is used to represent how something is processed. It is usually a visual representation of the work flow. Good process maps help people who are unfamiliar with the process understand the steps and interactions involved. Process maps may also show inputs, outputs, and possible conflicts along the way.
It is important to understand the difference between a process and a system. Processes are usually conducted by people; they are conditions that work together to produce outcomes to reach specific goals. Systems are automated and support humans in the 'processes.'
A process map shows in chronological order the steps of the process. It is used to identify problems. Process maps general contain these components:
A flowchart is a graphical sequence of events in a process. A flowchart can be used to communicate a process quickly and easily to another person. The steps are represented by boxes or symbols. A top-down flowchart shows the major steps and then the next level of steps. A deployment flowchart is more detailed in that it shows the people who are involved at each step.
The graphical components of a flowchart include:
|A rectangle is used for each step in the process. The step is written inside the box. Generally only one arrow goes out of a box.
|The arrow shows the direction of flow from one step to the next.
|A diamond is used to show a question. The question is written in the diamond, and more than one arrow goes out of the diamond. Often the answers are "yes" and "no," and the arrows follow the directions for that response.
|A circle is used to link to another page or another flow chart. It is used for linking. The same symbol with the same number or letter is on the continuation page.
|A parallelogram is used for input or output. The type of input or output and person responsible may be indicated in the shape.
|This symbol is used to indicate a document. Again the person or department responsible may be indicated in the symbol.
|An oval or a rectangle with rounded corners is used for the starting and ending points.
Example flowchart: The flowchart below shows the basic process for fulfilling an order once it has been received in the warehouse.
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