If you are someone who has only heard of flowcharts, you would think their purpose is to map the flow of a process. On the other hand, if you have worked with flowcharts, then you might already know that they have more than one interesting use.
In either case, following are the uses of flowcharts that everyone in general should know about, for at work or in life, a flowchart could come in real handy, and not knowing what you can do with one would be – well – a shame!
There are two types of decision makers; those who make decisions without weighing in the pros and cons, and those who simply make it whatever the consequence may be. And yes, there are various kinds of decisions too, somewhere you get time to ponder around but some you have to make in a heartbeat.
But if you have time, and it’s a very important decision regarding life or work, go the extra mile to incorporate a flowchart before you make the decision. It will enlighten you on the impact of the decision you are about to make as well as show you the right way to do it.
Let’s take a look at how you should use a flowchart to make a decision with this example that helps you decide whether you should check your email or not.
Now isn’t that a compelling way to decide whether you should check those emails you’ve been putting aside for days?
You can use a similar flowchart to make decisions you are currently obliged to make. Should you apply for your dream job? Should you quit your job and start your own startup or take a vacation instead? Should you allocate a separate team for that project? Should you recruit new employees? Whatever you want to decide!
What good is it to use a flowchart to make a decision, you ask? Why, it helps you brainstorm, evaluate and identify the best possible alternative in one single attempt.
Who doesn’t come across problems in life or at work? Sometimes I think if we are as good at problem-solving as we are at creating problems, perhaps things would be much easier. And yes, if you use a flowchart, you might actually be able to, be really good at problem-solving I mean. Let’s look at an example then.
Problem: The client is unhappy
As the flow chart shows, if the client is unhappy, regardless whether it’s your fault or not, find out why and do whatever you can to make her feel better.
This is just a simple example, but you can use a flowchart to solve a more complex problem, business related or life-related. The benefit of using a flowchart to solve a problem is that you get to break down the problem into smaller pieces and analyze every nook and corner of it, hence finding well-grounded solutions.
Not just that, you can actually use another flowchart to analyze the solution as well. For example, think you have arrived at a conclusion to offer a refund for the product your unhappy customer bought from you, here you can use a flowchart to see if this is the best solution and if you can do anything to improve the situation.
Really! Project planning, risk management, resource allocation, all these processes in project management can be beautifully outlined with flowcharts. How so? Flowcharts allow showing the progression of a process stage by stage, which is basically what any project planning tool does.
One drawback of using a flowchart for project planning is that you don’t get to include the timing of tasks. But there’s a solution; Swimlanes! Add swimlanes to a flowchart, you get a cross functional flowchart a.k.a. swimlane flowchart.
The purpose of swimlanes is to help you add more details to a flowchart, like timeline, owners (such as departments or people in charge), stages etc. With a swimlane you can indicate the time period each stage in a project may take.
That’s right! Need a source of expression for that funny idea in your head? Why not use a flowchart? Take a look at this funny flowchart below;
Flowcharts sure are a great way to analyze an idea, find a solution or make a decision (whether it is something funny or otherwise).
You see, flowcharts have several interesting uses other than outlining processes. Knowing how to use a flowchart at the right time will help you proceed without second guessing yourself. Are there any other purposes you utilize flowcharts for? Do share them with us!
About the Author
Amanda Athuraliya is the communication specialist/content writer at Cinergix, the team behind the development of the organizational chart software, Creately. She is an avid reader, a budding writer and a passionate researcher who loves to write about all kinds of topics.