Tag Archives: simple charting

All About Flow Charts

Sample Flow Chart

A simple yet extremely useful improvement tool, a flowchart is a type of diagram that represents a workflow or process. As a graphic depiction or visual map, a flowchart can represent a process with greater clarity than text descriptions alone, thus enabling people to more easily view and follow the “steps.” Consequently, they are very useful when communicating with users or managers about policies, rules, and unnecessary, duplicitous or cumbersome steps within a work process, and help to quickly highlight problems or opportunities for improvement.

When creating a flowchart, process steps are shown as shapes of various kinds, and their order by connecting the shapes with arrows or lines. Different shapes are used to indicate actions, decision points, recycle loops, work and wait times.

Among the most commonly-used shapes are the following:

Common Flow Chart Symbols

Originally, flowcharts were created by hand using pencil and paper. Before the advent of the personal computer, drawing templates made of plastic flowchart shape outlines helped flowchart makers work more quickly and gave their diagrams a more consistent look. Today’s flowcharts are typically created using software.

10 Key Charting Tools

Continuing our theme of using the “right” tool for the right job, there are some key tools one might use when involved in continuous improvement.

Ultimately, persistent problems cannot be solved by repeatedly using the same knowledge and insights; solutions require the innovative use of multiple problem-solving tools to examine current reality from a variety of different angles.

Here are 10 tools you might consider using:

    1. Pareto Chart

    Pareto Charts contain both bars and a line graph, where individual values are represented in descending order by bars. They are commonly used to explore ideas about possible causes.

  1. Process Mapping is a tool that enables people to spot and quantify the waste and trace it to the primary cause.
  2. Cause and Effect Diagramming is used to stretch beyond initial ideas about possible root causes.
  3. Histograms represent the distribution of numerical data, providing an estimate of the probability distribution of a continuous variable. They provide new insights into the dynamics of process performance.
    1. Run Chart

    Run Charts are line graphs of data plotted over time. They can be used to understand current process performance and distinguish between random variation and special causes.

  4. Scatter Diagrams are primarily used to clarify the importance of possible causal factors on results measurements.
  5. Affinity Diagrams are used to find breakthrough ideas and natural relationships among the data.
  6. Priority Matrices can be used to consider alternatives and identify the right things to work on.
  7. Interrelationship Digraphs provide visual demonstrations of the relationship among factors—causal factors (drivers) vs. symptoms so that you get the most leverage on interventions.
  8. A dependable method of analyzing the data as outlined in recent posts.