There are a few values necessary to exercise when building or running a successful, thriving business. One of those is actively implementing constant improvement. To do this, businesses will often examine their processes and look for ways to make them more effective and efficient. While doing so, Business Analysts employ a number of tools and techniques, including the use of flowcharts. If you’re not already familiar with flowcharts, they are essentially diagrams that visualize a process, system, or operation.
One of the most common types of flowcharts is the process flowchart.
A process flowchart is a graphical representation of a business process or operation in the form of a diagram. The flowchart will contain all the necessary information about the process. It’ll explain how it works, what the steps in the process are, what events could potentially change the outcome, and more details.
By using process flowcharts properly, a business can analyze its current processes more quickly and holistically, and identify opportunities for improvements. Keep reading to find out more about how flowcharts can be leveraged to drive improvement in organizations!
How Process Flowcharts Improve Business
Gain A Shared Understanding
To function effectively, all the individuals in an organization need to understand how their roles and tasks fit within the operation as a whole. If one cog doesn’t function properly, it can derail the efficiency of teams, departments, or even the entire operation.
To facilitate the efficient running of teams, proper communication must be present. Luckily, one of the biggest advantages of using a process flowchart is that it’s a very effective communication tool.
They are easy to understand, explain exactly what’s going to happen in each part of the process, and clearly define the next step in the process. This allows everyone involved to come to a shared understanding about their tasks and how they interactwith others. With a better understanding of the whole process, employees will perform their tasks more efficiently.
This shared understanding also enables the team better identify inefficiencies in the process. Once identified, the team can collaborate to come up with effective changes.
Better Time Management
Properly designed flowcharts can significantly improve an organization’s time management. Business Analysts can include the length of time each stage of the process requires, enabling those involved to have a better understanding of timing of the various steps. This can make planning and time management much easier. And with better coordination and timing, the process moves faster, allowing the organization to focus on the value they deliver to their customers.
The flowchart can also help businesses identify which processes require the most time and shift steps around or eliminate some altogether. Process flowcharts help you see the bigger picture, and this eagle-eyed view provides you a new perspective of each step, the time it takes, and the value it provides.
Easier Problem Solving
One of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to problem-solving is creating a visual representation. A flowchart not only showcases a business operation – it’s also a very effective problem-solving tool.
By using a flowchart, you can effectively break down a problem at various levels of granularity. The breakdown will provide you with a clearer view of challenges, and potential solutions that can be deployed. And since flowcharts are visual, they can be an incredibly effective communication tool, allowing collaborators to more quickly come to a shared understanding.
Additionally, by providing a top-down view of the entire process, identifying any potential problems becomes much easier.
Using sentences and paragraphs is one way to explain how a process works, but it is terribly inefficient to write and communicate to others. These documents are bound to be lengthy and difficult to comprehend.
And that is where process flowcharts come in. They provide a visual representation of the process. This not only allows you to better understand that process itself, but since you can also link one process flowchart with others, they also help us understand how one process fits within the entire system.
Even the most complex systems – which would require mounds of paperwork to explain all the various steps – can be reimagined visually as a flowchart. Instead of painfully sifting through documents trying to locate the steps you need, you can simply follow the process flowchart path.
Visual images and diagrams are an impactful way to get messages and information across to readers quickly. By breaking down the complex business steps into a simple diagram, everyone can intuitively see the whole process. And this helps to avoid conflict and clarify any potential confusion.
Transparency of Responsibilities
With a flowchart, you can completely define every single step in the process. There’s no room for ambiguity as every step in the process will involve all the necessary details for completion. The employee responsible for the particular step in the process will know his/her responsibilities completely – as will the others who are involved in the process.
This transparency in responsibilities is shown in flowcharts that use swimlanes. Swimlanes delineate the responsibilities of a specific person, team, or department in a process, providing clarity and accountibility. These help ensure that there’s no blame-shifting when something goes wrong in the process. There’s no room for ambiguity or hiding behind others. The flowchart helps ensure that every individual involved completely understands the task they’re supposed to perform. To learn more about swimlanes, you can check our Beginner’s to Process Flowcharts course!
The presence of a process flowchart helps employees execute their specific tasks in a consistent manner. It essentially ensures that your business process functions like a well-oiled machine.
Flowcharts provide detailed instructions on what’s going to occur in every step of the process. That’ll ensure that anyone that has access to the flowchart can recognize and perform their tasks. As a result, even if the employees involved in the process change, the outcome will be consistent. It also makes it easier for the organization to hire new employees and immediately get them on board with the process.
Consistency is key in helping a businesses implement improvements. Ensuring that your processes remain consistent, the business can improve its productivity levels and move towards growth. It also makes it easier to coordinate within the process and reduces employee burnout.
One of the most significant ways that flowcharts contribute to business improvement is by helping the whole business operate more efficiently.
Even when you start with designing the flowchart, it forces you to evaluate each step carefully. Think about all the important details about each step and how each fits with the other steps in the process. By visualizing these ideas in the form of a flowchart, you have the potential to experiment as well. It gives you the ability to document and observe the outcome of any new steps in the process.
The outcome is typically a significant gain in efficiency because the entire visualization makes it easier to identify where the process could improve. It can lead to increased productivity levels, cost reduction, and can also save time. Using a process flowchart is one of the easiest ways a business can improve efficiency.
How to Apply this Information
As I’ve demonstrated, using flowcharts within organizations can provide a tremendous amount of value. And since the number one goal of a Business Analyst is to generate value, it is important you know how to properly create process flowcharts.
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– Written by Jeremy Aschenbrenner, The BA Guide