What is a flow chart ?

A flowchart is a diagram or a chart that shows an algorithm or process flow in sequential steps. Flowcharts are commonly used in documenting the sequence of steps in a given process or a procedure and are commonly used for designing, documenting and managing the workflow in a project. They are often used in software development, automation and other industries where there is high process orientation.

Flowcharts were first developed by Frank Gilbreth in 1921. Over the course of next few decades, there use grew and they became one of the most widely tools in project and process management. Various modern project management technique and tools can trace back their roots to the humble flowchart.

a-typical-flowchartA typical flowchart will have the following parts:
1. Steps/Symbols representing the beginning and ending of the process.
2. Processing steps typically represented by rectangles which detail out each of the steps involved in the process.
3. Decision steps represented by a rhombus which are steps in the flowchart where a condition is encountered or a decision needs to be made.
4. Connectors which represent the sequence of each of the steps and the flow of resource/information across various steps.

There are other parts and symbols each with its own specific utility. This ever increasing list of additional symbols enriches the information that can be encapsulated in a flowchart. Over the years a number of tools have become commercially available for making a flow chart. You can know more on how to create a Flow Chart in Excel in this article.

You can also download the free Excel Flow Chart Tool here.

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