A flowchart is a type of diagram that represents a workflow or process. It uses symbols and shapes to demonstrate steps in the underlying process, the decisions made, and the inputs/outputs. Flowcharts are a great way to communicate complex ideas in a simplistic and accessible format, which is why businesses use them to audit and document workflow.
How to Create a Flowchart
Before you start creating, understanding flowcharts is essential. There are plenty of resources online, and you can often find templates on various creating software.
Once you know how flowcharts work, it’s time to define the scope and purpose, which involves noting the start and end points. Next, identify the tasks between the two points and organize them in chronological order.
The next stage involves charting the process using relevant symbols. Here are some common flowchart symbols you can use:
- Rectangles for process steps
- Diamonds for decision points
- Arrows for the flow of the chart
- Ovals for terminators (start and end points)
Now you’re ready to start creating your flow chart. You can draft the chart by hand, but we recommend using flowchart-creating software, which will improve the outcome and allow you to edit it easily.
Flowcharts can be split into different types, so it’s important to get to grips with them all because they each serve a specific purpose. For example, a process flowchart d epicts the steps involved in an underlying process, which paves the way for improvements.
Another relevant type of flowchart is the workflow chart, which is used to reflect the flow of materials or information through a process. This type of flowchart can help identify bottlenecks and bring about positive change .
Flowcharts are used to document and audit workflows in several different ways. For example, auditors can easily understand how materials are moved through a process, identify bottlenecks, and assess internal controls. To audit workflow using a flowchart, follow these steps:
- Know the process being audited.
- Collect information about the process.
- Create a flowchart of the process.
- Work out and monitor internal controls.
- Find key areas for improvement.
- Communicate audit findings to relevant parties.
Flowcharts can also be used to document workflow, which can help train new employees or communicate complex systems to shareholders. To document workflow using a flowchart, follow steps 1-3 above, but then review the flowchart with participants and then finalize the flowchart.
Auditors can use flowcharts to examine an extensive range of workflows, but we’re going to focus on order processing. The flowchart would include every single step involved in the order processing, from the customer placing an order to the shipment being received by the customer. The auditor would then examine the flowchart to identify areas that cause bottlenecks, which can then be improved.
Flowcharts are a simple but comprehensive tool designed to visualize, document, and improve complicated processes. They can be used across a wide range of industries, from humble startups to giant healthcare businesses and governments.