Flowchart

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Identification
Intent or purpose: 
The goal of this process is to simplify and improve certain processes of the client but also to determine areas that need monitoring and to formulate questions for further or later research.
Used as component of: 
This process is used to understand certain processes, and to consider ways to improve or simplify these.
Types of Participants: 
The participants of this method should be acquainted with the processes that are to be analyzed.
Recommended size of group: 
unknown
Remarks about group size: 
The group can be of any size.
Optimal amount of time needed: 
The time that is needed for this process depends on the complexity of the process.
Howto
Usual or Expected Outcomes: 
The outcome will be a flowchart that draws clear lines between the process and could therefore display easier or more effective solutions for certain processes.
Level of participation: 
The level of participation is high as people have to understand the different processes, be able to display them and then look for improvements.
Ideal Conditions: 
There are no special conditions needed.
Potential Pitfalls: 
A potential pitfall would be a flowchart that represents the ideal processes instead of displaying the actual situation.
How is success evaluated: 
the process is successful when the client has been introduced to new methods that can improve or fasten his/her processes.
Type of Facilitator-Client Relationship: 
A special Facilitator-Client Relationship is not neccesary.
Level of Difficulty to Facilitate: 
Not set
Facilitator Personality Fit: 
The facilitator does not need any particular characteristics.
Setting and Materials: 
A computer in order to create the chart is recommended, however the chart can also be hand drawn.
Resources Needed: 
There are no additional resources needed.
Pre-Work Required: 
The facilitator should get acquainted with the processes of the client's organization.
Procedures: 

The first step is to agree with the client on the purpose of the flowchart, and then deciding which format is the most appropriate. (See below for the different kinds)

Then, a beginning and an end of the process has to be agreed upon. The more complex a process is, the shorter the sequence should be. Questions such as What signals the beginning of this process? What are the inputs? or What signals the end of the process? What is/are the final output(s)? can help to define the right sequence.

Next, the different elements of the flowchart should be identified. This can be done by asking the following questions: Who provides the input for this step? Who uses it? What is done with the input? What decisions are made while the input is being used? What is the output to this step? Who uses it to do what?.

Now, together with the client, the facilitator needs to review the first draft of the flow chart so as to check whether all steps are in a logical order. Unclear areas can be marked with a cloud in order to be clarified later.

After one or two days. the flowchart should be reviewed with the group of participants to see whether everyone is satisfied with the result, meaning that the processes are actually depicting the real status quo. The facilitator can also ask individuals whether they think this graphic represents what they do.

Once the flowchart is done, the analyzing and the search for improvements can begin. This can be done by independent person that is not involved in the process, such as the facilitator, but also by the team or by the client. The best solution of course would be team work in which different perspectives come up for discussion.

The Basic formats of flowcharts:

1. High-Level Flowchart

This kind of flowchart is also called first-level or top-down flowchart as it only depicts the major steps in a process. It is in the view of a "birds-eye" and offers a basic understanding of a process and it identifies the changes taking place within the process. This format is especially useful when wanting to identify appropriate team members as well as for developing indicators for monitoring the process (because of the focus on intermediate outputs).

2. Detailed Flowchart

The purpose of this flowchart is to provide a more detailed picture of a process. This is done by mapping all of the steps and activities that occur at some point of the progress. It indicates the steps or activities of the process and includes decision points, waiting periods, frequent tasks (rework) and feedback loops. This type of flowchart is very useful when examining areas of the process in detail (hence the name). It is very suitable when wanting to look at problems or areas of inefficiency.

3. Deployment or Matrix Flowchart

This last type maps out the process in terms of who is doing the different steps. It can be considered to be a kind of matrix that shows the flow of steps of the participant, focusing on the latter. The matrix flowchart is highly recommendable when wanting to identify who is providing inputs/services to whom. It also focuses on areas where different people may be doing the same task redundantly.

How flexible is the process?: 
The process is very flexible, as it can deal with a wide range of problems.
Follow-Up Required: 
There is no follow-up requiered.
Background
Developer: 
Frank Gilbreth
History of Development: 

The first structured method for documenting process flow, the "flow process chart", was introduced by Frank Gilbreth to members of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1921 as the presentation “Process Charts—First Steps in Finding the One Best Way”.

References: 
1. Nec3: Engineering and Construction Short Contract Guidance Notes and Flow Charts by NEC - ISBN-10: 0727733737 & ISBN-13: 978-0727733733 2. Flow Chart by John Ashbery - ISBN-10: 0856359475 & ISBN-13: 978-0856359477 3. Flow chart Maker (software) - ASIN: B0000C03JK
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