A flowchart is a diagram that represents a process or algorithm. The steps are represented by a series of boxes or other specialized symbols, then connected with arrows. A flowchart is a formalized graphic representation of a logic sequence, work or manufacturing process, organization chart, or similar formalized structure. The purpose of a flow chart is to provide people with a common language or reference point when dealing with a project or process.
Flowcharts use simple geometric symbols and arrows to define relationships. In programming, for instance, the beginning or end of a program is represented by an oval. A process is represented by a rectangle, a decision is represented by a diamond and an I/O process is represented by a parallelogram. The Internet is represented by a cloud.
Flow charting allows you to break down any process into bite-sized sections and display them in shorthand form. That way, your audience can easily see the logical flow and relationships between steps.
Flowcharts are an important tool across various industries and careers, since they’re a clear, concise method of displaying information. Plus, flowcharts can convey data in a visually pleasing way, so your work looks professional and communicates its information effectively.
Flowcharts are ideal for communicating a step-by-step process to others. You may also want to create a flowchart if you’re confused about the process; the act of mapping out the steps in flow chart format can clarify your own understanding. When a process is particularly complex, flowcharts allow you to focus intently on each step or element, so you don’t get overwhelmed by the bigger picture.
Drawing a flow chart might be helpful when:
- Defining, analyzing, or discussing a process (or a set of processes).
- Drawing a step-by-step picture of the process for your own or others’ understanding.
- Standardizing or finding areas for improvement in a process.