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Types of Flowcharts

A flowchart is a type of diagram that represents an algorithm, workflow or process, showing the steps as boxes of various kinds, and their order by connecting them with arrows.

Here are brief summaries of the common uses of flowcharts and types of diagrams typically associated with them.

Types of Flowcharts

Basic Flowchart

Basic Flowchart is a simple diagram of step-by-step execution of algorithm. It is used at the lowest level of business model description. Basic Flowchart is very simple and visual for creating and understanding. The simple algorithm shapes that represent the processes steps are used for creating the Basic Flowcharts and are connected by arrows that show the order of operations.

Basic Flowcharts are widely used in the different areas of knowledge. But Basic Flowcharts have also some disadvantages: the set of graphic elements is very limited, for example the participants of the business process are not marked on the chart.

  • Planning a new project
  • Represents an algorithm or process
  • Illustrates a solution to a given problem
  • Represented process operations
  • Used in analyzing
  • Used in designing
  • Used in documenting
  • Used in managing a process
  • Used in program in various fields

Basic Flowchart

Example 1. Basic Flowchart

Business Process Modeling Diagram

Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) is a standardized graphical notation that allows to create a graphical view of the business processes in a workflow. BPMN standard notation was developed by the Business Process Management Initiative (BPMI) to unify the expression of the business processes, to help all business users easily understand each other using the unified standard. It is a simple and visual tool for businesses and business processes, the common standard for design and implementation of business processes.

In 2011 was standardized the BPMN 2.0. Until then was used the version 1.1.

  • Analytical representation of business processes
  • Illustrating business processes of an organization
  • Bridging the communication gap between business process design and implementation
  • Simplifying understanding of business activities flows and processes
  • Showing internal business processes to a specific organization
  • Depicts the interactions between two or more business entities
  • Process improvement

Business Process Diagram (BPMN)

Example 2. Business Process Diagram (BPMN)

Cross Functional Flowchart

Cross Functional Flowchart (also called Deployment Flowchart) is a notation that is used to show the processes on the lower level of the business model. Cross Functional Flowchart displays the detailed algorithm of the business process execution, the participants of the process and the interactions between them.

Cross functional flowcharts use the swim lanes that represent the functional units. They can be arranged horizontal or vertical.

Cross Functional Flowcharts are very simple and useful, but demand a certain degree of detail. They are often used as the tool of the business planning.

  • Visualization and communication the operations of a business process flow step-by-step
  • Depicts responsible people or departments for each operation
  • Simplifying understanding of business activities flows and processes

Cross-Functional Flowchart

Example 3. Cross-Functional Flowchart

Data Flow Diagram

Data Flow Diagram (DFD) is one of the main tools for structural analysis and design of the information systems. Data flow diagram graphically represents how the information system work and develop, the interactions between the system and external data sources in terms of data flows, the data flows that the information system receives from the outside.

The DFD Model is a hierarchical model. Each process may be subjected to decomposition, i.e. divided on the structural components, the relationships between them in the same notation can be shown on the separate diagram.

Two notations are used for describing the DFDs: Yourdon & Coad and Gane & Sarson.

  • Data management
  • Graphical representation of the "flow" of data through an information system
  • Modeling process aspects
  • An overview of the system
  • For the visualization of data processing (structured design)
  • What kinds of information will be input to and output from the system
  • Where the data will come from and go to
  • Where the data will be stored

Data Flow Diagram (DFD)

Example 4. Data Flow Diagram (DFD)

Event-driven Process Chain (EPC) Diagram

Event-Driven Process Chain (EPC) Diagram is a flowchart of business process modeling that uses the Events and Functions as key elements. EPC Diagram must start and end by the event. The function should always follow the event, i.e. the function creates a certain event (state). Documents, organizational units, process owners, information and control flows, elements of the information system have their graphic symbols. The various connectors are provided. For branching of the process are used the logical operators AND, OR, XOR.

The Event-driven Process Chain method was developed within the framework of the ARIS (Architecture of Integrated Information Systems) that is used by the large quantity of companies for business processes modeling, analyzing and redesigning. EPC is used on the lower levels of business model description, when you need to describe the detailed step-by-step execution of the business process, all executors and used objects. Event-Driven Process Chain Diagrams are simple and easy for understanding. They are widely used in the IT field and software development.

But it is needed the special stuff training for creating and understanding of EPC Diagrams. It is a disadvantage of this type of flowcharts.

  • Modeling a business process
  • Enterprise resource planning
  • Business process improvement
  • Business process implementation

EPC Diagram

Example 5. Event-driven Process Chain (EPC) Diagram

IDEF Flowchart

IDEF (Integrated DEFinition) is a methodology of the modeling the complex systems in the field of software engineering. IDEF diagrams were introduced in 1981 as part of the ICAM (Integrated Computer-Aided Manufacturing) project.

The IDEF family includes the IDEF0 - IDEF14 methods, that have the wide range of uses, such as the functional modeling, the object-oriented analysis and design, the knowledge attainments. IDEF0, IDEF1X and IDEF3 are the most used and widely recognized components of the IDEF family.

IDEF0 is functional modeling method that describes the business processes, models the decisions, actions and activities of the complex system or organization. IDEF0 is based on the SADT (Structured Analysis and Design Technique). It is the result of the program of the computerization the industry, which was proposed by the US Air Force. IDEF0 notation was standardized in 1993 by the National Institute of Standards and Technology of the United States Department of Commerce.

  • Create function models
  • Develop transition schematics
  • Design system architecture
  • Database design
  • Object-oriented design

IDEF Flowchart

Example 6. IDEF Flowchart

Influence Diagram (ID)

Influence diagram (ID) is a graphical and mathematical representation of the decision. It is a generalization of the Bayesian network. Influence diagrams are hierarchical. They are the alternative to the decision tree.

Influence diagram represents the directed acyclic graph with three types of nodes (Decision node, Uncertainty node, Value node) and three types of arcs that connect the nodes (Functional arcs, Conditional arcs, Informational arcs).

Influence diagrams are widely used in the decision analysis and in the game theory.

Influence Diagram (ID)

Example 7. Influence Diagram (ID)

Swimlane Flowchart

In each company business-processes are allotted among workers and departments. One the same process may be fulfilled by several workers simultaneously or by turns. In such cases it is quite difficult to define the reasons of delays, defects and narrow places during the process. The documenting of business-processes in the company is required. One of the tools for documenting of business-processes is the Swim Lane diagram.

  • Documenting a process
  • Mechanism to organize activities into separate visual categories in order
  • Illustrate different functional capabilities or responsibilities (organisational roles)

Swimlane Flowchart

Example 8. Swimlane Flowchart

Process Flow Diagram (PFD)

Process Flow Diagram (PFD) is a flowchart that illustrates the high-level processes in chemical industry and process engineering. PFD displays only the major plant processes not focusing on the insignificant details or components.

Process Flow Diagram can show single or multiple processes. PFD that displays multiple processes is called schematic flow diagram or block flow diagram.

  • Oil and petroleum refining
  • Natural gas systems
  • Green energy, such as wind and solar power
  • Water treatment and processes
  • Electrical power plants
  • Piping and irrigation systems

Process Flow Diagram (PFD)

Example 9. Process Flow Diagram (PFD)

Specification and Description Language (SDL) Diagram

Specification and Description Language (SDL) is a specification language for creating specifications, descriptions of the behavior, data, and inheritance for real-time systems. SDL is used for creating the object-oriented diagrams, visualizing the processes of the state machines for the systems of communication, telecommunication, automotive, aviation and medical industries.

Specification and Description Language provides the graphical Graphic Representation (SDL/GR) and the textual Phrase Representation (SDL/PR).

For creating the SDL diagrams are used the building blocks such as: system definition, block agent, process. Block agents consist of the process agents and communicate using the channels. A process agent is a state machine. A few block agents form the system agent. The message to the agent from another agent or the environment is called a signal and is placed in a queue (the input port).

  • Mapping computer algorithms
  • Design SDL Diagram
  • Develop FSM Diagram
  • System Design
  • Systems Engineering
  • Build real-time system involved in parallel processing

Specification and Description Language (SDL) Diagram

Example 10. Specification and Description Language (SDL) Diagram

Value Stream Mapping

Value stream mapping supports the methods of the lean manufacturing that are used for analyze and design the flow of the materials and information at the system level. This as a result brings the product or service to the consumer. The lead time is a key indicator associated with the value stream mapping.

Value stream mapping are widely used in manufacturing, logistics, product development, software development, healthcare and in other service industries. Value stream mapping is also used as a part of the Six Sigma methodologies.

  • Analyze the current process
  • Acilitate future state maps
  • Make it easier to engage the extended team
  • Clearer presentation of the current state

Value Stream Mapping

Example 11. Value Stream Map

Workflow Diagram

Workflow Diagram is a graphical description of the information flows, the relationships between the processes of information processing and the objects that are the part of these processes. Workflow Diagram describes the stages of the business or manufacturing processes from the initial to the final stage that allows the organization to trace the progress of the processes quickly and clearly.

For drawing the Workflow Diagrams are used the following shapes: ovals that represent the workflow begins and ends, rectangles that show the process activity, circles that show the connectors from one activity to another and diamonds that signify the process of the decision making.

Workflow Diagrams are important part of the business process management (BPM).

  • Managing workflow
  • Show pictorial overview of a business, technical or functional process step-by-step
  • Model business process to develop, implement, reuse, analyze, solve problems and improve
  • Simplify process collaboration by showing workflow in chain of people and business units
  • Visualize control and information flow, business process automation, business process re-engineering, accounting, management, and HR tasks
  • Document business processes in 6 Sigma or ISO 9000

Workflow Diagram

Example 12. Workflow Diagram

Types of Flowcharts

Example 12. Types of Flowcharts

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DFD Library System

The diagrams with highest level in the hierarchy define the main processes or subsystems with external and internal data sources. To detail them, DFD Library is used to build a system of lower level diagrams. This decomposition continues hereinafter it is meaningless.DFD Library System
Picture: DFD Library System
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Process Flowchart

When trying to figure out the nature of the problems occurring within a project, there are many ways to develop such understanding. One of the most common ways to document processes for further improvement is to draw a process flowchart, which depicts the activities of the process arranged in sequential order — this is business process management. ConceptDraw PRO is business process mapping software with impressive range of productivity features for business process management and classic project management. This business process management software is helpful for many purposes from different payment processes, or manufacturing processes to chemical processes. Business process mapping flowcharts helps clarify the actual workflow of different people engaged in the same process. This samples were made with ConceptDraw PRO — business process mapping software for flowcharting and used as classic visio alternative because its briefly named "visio for mac" and for windows, this sort of software named the business process management tools. This flowchart diagram shows a process flow of project management. The diagram that is presented here depicts the project life cycle that is basic for the most of project management methods. Breaking a project into phases allows to track it in the proper manner. Through separation on phases, the total workflow of a project is divided into some foreseeable components, thus making it easier to follow the project status. A project life cycle commonly includes: initiation, definition, design, development and implementation phases. Distinguished method to show parallel and interdependent processes, as well as project life cycle relationships. A flowchart diagram is often used as visual guide to project. For instance, it used by marketing project management software for visualizing stages of marketing activities or as project management workflow tools. Created with ConceptDraw PRO — business process mapping software which is flowcharting visio alternative or shortly its visio for mac, this sort of software platform often named the business process management process flowcharts, flowchart symbols, process flow diagram, workflow diagram, flowchart maker
Picture: Process Flowchart
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Basic Flowchart Symbols and Meaning

While creating flowcharts and process flow diagrams, you should use special objects to define different statements, so anyone aware of flowcharts can get your scheme right. There is a short and an extended list of basic flowchart symbols and their meaning. Basic flowchart symbols include terminator objects, rectangles for describing steps of a process, diamonds representing appearing conditions and questions and parallelograms to show incoming data. This diagram gives a general review of the standard symbols that are used when creating flowcharts and process flow diagrams. The practice of using a set of standard flowchart symbols was admitted in order to make flowcharts and other process flow diagrams created by any person properly understandable by other people. The flowchart symbols depict different kinds of actions and phases in a process. The sequence of the actions, and the relationships between them are shown by special lines and arrows. There are a large number of flowchart symbols. Which of them can be used in the particular diagram depends on its type. For instance, some symbols used in data flow diagrams usually are not used in the process flowcharts. Business process system use exactly these flowchart symbols.Flowchart Symbols and Meaning, workflow diagram symbols, process flow diagram symbols
Picture: Basic Flowchart Symbols and Meaning
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Flowchart Software

Describing a workflow or approval process can take hours and be too complicated, especially since there are options to do it quickly and vividly. Diagrams called flowcharts replace long paragraphs of boring text and represent information in a graphic way. You can draw one on paper or you can use flowchart software to do it quickly and scalable. This kind of software is easy to use and you don’t need any special skills to start using it. In addition, there are a lot examples and predesigned templates on the Internet. Flowcharts are a best tool for staking out a huge and complex process into some small readable parts. Surely, flowcharts can be drawn manually but the use of standard symbols that make it clear for a wide audience makes a software tool preferred for this task. The core for a successful flowchart is its simplicity. That is why often before beginning making flowchart through software, people draw the sketch on a piece of paper. Designing an effective flowchart means the combination of the data needed to be shown and the simplicity with which you depict it.Process Flowchart, flowchart symbols, process flow diagram, flowchart maker
Picture: Flowchart Software
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Data Flow Diagram Symbols. DFD Library

Any information system receives data flows from external sources. In order to visualize them there is a list of data flow diagram symbols that describes how the system components cooperate. If you want to create a data flow diagram, ConceptDraw PRO Solution Park has DFD Library that contains both Yourdon and Gane-Sarson notations. This figure shows the content of vector libraries, delivered with ConceptDraw solution for data flow diagram (DFD). There are three libraries composed from about 50 vector objects used to make data flow diagrams. They include a complete set of objects utilized by Yourdon-Coad and Gane-Sarson notations - two primary notations that are apply for data flow diagramming. Also, one can discover additional "Data flow diagram (DFD)" library that provides a data flow diagram elements for designing level 1 and context-level data flow diagrams.Data Flow Diagram Symbols. DFD Library
Picture: Data Flow Diagram Symbols. DFD Library
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Business Process Flowchart Symbols

Diagramming is an astonishing way to visualize business processes. The list of the most common business process flowchart symbols is quite long starting from basic flowcharts, continuing with SIPOC diagrams. Business process modeling was never easier than now, with special ConceptDraw Business Process Mapping solution. To carry out all professional standard requirements for business processes mapping, it is necessarily to follow the special graphical notations. ConceptDraw Business Process Mapping solution offers an exhaustive suite of tools to aid business process mapping. There are three vector libraries SIPOC Diagrams, Business Process Flowcharts, and Swim Lanes that contains totally more than 50 symbols of standard BPM notations. This is all that professionals need to effectively evaluate and manage quality in business processes.Business Process Flowchart Solution
Picture: Business Process Flowchart Symbols
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House of Quality Matrix Software

House of Quality Matrix Software - Use the predesigned objects from the Involvement Matrix Objects Library from the Seven Management and Planning Tools Solution to create professional looking House of Quality Matrices in minutes.House of Quality Matrix Software
Picture: House of Quality Matrix Software
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Flowchart Definition

Acquaintance with flowcharting starts from getting into basic terms. First of all, flowchart definition is quite clear – a flowchart is a graphical representation of a process or an algorithm made of special symbols. Secondly, flowcharting is an irreplaceable tool for IT specialists, project managers, and anyone who wants a clear understanding of any imaginable process.Flowchart Definition
Picture: Flowchart Definition
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Types of Flowchart - Overview

A flowchart is a powerful tool for examining processes. It helps improving processes a lot, as it becomes much easier to communicate between involved people, to identify potential problems and to optimize workflow. There are flowcharts of different shapes, sizes and types of flowchart vary from quite basic process flowcharts to complex program flowcharts. Nevertheless, all these diagrams use the same set of special symbols like arrows to connect blocks, parallelogram to show data receiving or rectangles for showing process steps. Basic flowcharts are used to represent a simple process algorithm. A basic flowchart notation consists of rectangles (business processes), arrows (the flow of information, documents, etc.). The same notation is used in items such as the "decision", which allow you to do the branching. To indicate the start of the entire business process and its termination can be used the "Terminator" element. The advantages of Basic Flowchart are simplicity and clarity. With it you can quickly describe the business process steps. Creating of Basic Flowchart does not require any special knowledge, as easily understand by employees with different levels of education and IQ.Process flowchart sample - Human resource management process
Picture: Types of Flowchart - Overview
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Pyramid Diagram

When thinking about the process of decision making, it's easy to imagine it as a pyramid. We will look at a three level pyramid model as an example. Operational decisions are first that come to mind, and it's the first level. Tactical and strategic decisions are the second and the third levels. Pyramid (triangle) diagrams are used to show some hierarchical data. Because to the pyramid form of diagram, each diagram slice has a different width. The width of each segment depends on its hierarchical level. The current image illustrates the model of information system types. Most graphically the model can be represented as a three level pyramid. The first level shows a system of transaction processing It is concentrated on operational tasks. The second level is devoted to tactical solutions of the information system management. And at least, the third level addresses strategy and represents the executive information system. This three level pyramid sample is supplied with the ConceptDraw Pyramid Diagrams solution from Marketing area of ConceptDraw Solution Park.Pyramid Diagrams. 3 level pyramid model of information systems types
Picture: Pyramid Diagram
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