Flowcharts are a great way to begin visualising a process.
They’re a familiar way of depicting events that anyone can follow along with.
That said, there are some aspects to keep in mind when adopting them for business processes and process management.
Let’s take a look.
Do Familiarise Yourself With a Business Process Flowchart
Firstly, you do want to familiarise yourself with what a business process flowchart looks like and how you’re expected to use it.
This may change depending on how the process maps were done previously at your company, or you may be coming up with your own version.
Ideally, whatever you use has some form of standardisation that can be replicated and understood to have the same meaning constantly.
A business process management flowchart is similar to other mapping options in that it helps you visualise what your business process actually looks like. By capturing your process, you can begin to improve on it and thus lead your business to greater growth.
This is why you want to know what a flowchart is and how it works.
Don’t Be Afraid to Use Flowcharts
Conversely, some people may be against the use of flowcharts for business.
As we’ll see in a minute, there are some limitations when it comes to using flowcharts for business process management.
But they are a great initial tool. If you’re in a quick meeting or having a phone call and you do not have access to anything other than pen and paper, sketching out a quick flowchart is a great way to quickly run through the process as it stands. Potentially add some changes you want to make and see what happens.
Simply because they have some limitations does not mean you should not be using them or avoiding them. A flowchart can do a lot in its simplicity.
Do Be Aware of the Limitations of Flowcharts for Process Management
So what are the limitations flowcharts have when it comes to business process management?
Firstly it’s the lack of roles per task. This creates difficulties when it comes to assigning responsibilities. If it’s not clear in the chart who is responsible for what, everything will be a lot slower than it needs to be, including your growth as a company.
Secondly, flowcharts cannot include all of the relevant information. If they do, it becomes challenging to read. You will always be sacrificing information when using a flowchart for process management, and your process optimisation may well suffer for it.
Thirdly, flowcharts depend on the notation of the one who makes them. Unless you arrive at an agreed-upon, internal notation, you may run into different people understanding the flowchart differently. Or different people mapping similar processes in very different ways. This will cause confusion during the actual process actions, and result in a lot of working backward to fix things, as is often the case in clinical trial management.
As a business, that is time you do not have. This leads to our next point:
Don’t Forget to Include All Parts of a Business Process
As we said above, using flowcharts is a great way to get started. During a quick call or elevator meeting, getting out a pen and paper and scribbling something out can be extremely useful.
There’s a reason they have been the selected tool for so long.
But flowcharts do not capture enough of the business process.
It’s missing crucial information such as forms, data, roles, and responsibilities. In some cases, entire sub-processes are not accounted for.
Flowcharts make it simple to capture a business process, but that’s because they only capture the minimum. To be able to truly understand and improve your processes, you cannot pick and choose which part of the process to study. You must be able to capture and visualise it in its entirety, and that is something a flowchart cannot do, whether it is digital or handmade.
Do Utilise the Right Tools for Process Management
When it comes to process management, you want to make sure you are utilising the right tools.
Sometimes it’s a flowchart, sometimes it’s not.
Often, you need a little more than a flowchart for business processes. The reason why Business Process Modelling Notation (BPMN) exists is because it was determined that flowcharts weren’t enough on their own. But a complicated notation system is not the answer either.
At Skore, we’ve developed a simple, easy-to-use tool for process management.
Our goal was to ensure everyone in a company can follow along, as everyone is involved with the business processes keeping it running and will have to be involved in process mapping at some point.
We wanted to create a tool that accounted for the limitations we saw elsewhere when it came to business processes. With Skore, roles are a component of any action, so that it is obvious under whose responsibility a certain task falls.
This helps clear up confusion and figure out why something may be running slower during a process review. It also helps those undergoing training: they can refer back to the process in the process library and ask the correct person.
Another aspect of Skore is that all relevant data is included. You can attach data sheets, forms, and other documentation as needed that is pertinent to any task. And it does not clutter the map itself, simply shows up as an attachment.
If there is a sub-process for a particular task, it is also possible to zoom in on that by simply clicking on the task itself and viewing the process map for the sub-process. No information is lost for the sake of clarity, allowing for a complete review of the process when it’s time to consider improvements.
Skore uses Universal Process Notation (UPN). An easily understood notation system in which there is no confusion, as the notation means the same throughout the entire platform and on any map made on it.
In addition to fixing problems, at Skore we took an extra step and realised the importance of data for process management. We developed Quantify to provide a dashboard of numerical data information and point out problem spots to consider when it’s time to improve a process.
Utilising Quantify, Skore users can calculate activity based costing, the impact of switching the responsible role, how expensive activities are, and more. They can try different changes on the process and explore the impact that change is expected to have in a month, quarter, or year, so they can make the correct decision based on the available data.
And, they can create reports to show stakeholders why a change makes sense, making sign-off happen a lot faster.
It’s easy to see why, then, you…
Don’t Rely Solely on a Flowchart for Process Management
The key takeaway?
Flowcharts are great, but not the only option you should consider when it comes to process management – especially business process management.
BPMN, Swim Lane Diagrams, UPN – these are all alternatives to flowcharts that can be used and applied instead.
Business process mapping software today already uses a lot of these in conjunction with flowcharts to make your life even easier.
That’s not to say flowcharts aren’t useful or have a function, simply that they are a component of a whole. As with most things, business process management works best when you are utilising several solutions to the problem at once. Or software like Skore, which already does it for you!
Flowcharts are a great tool: they provide an easy starting point to get from A to B.
But as a business grows and wants to improve, it becomes more complicated than simply getting from A to B.
This is when a tool like Skore comes in and changes the game. We are here to make your business process management life simpler, and to take you beyond the flowchart while acknowledging its use.
Want to learn more about how different kinds of tools for process management?