Wednesday 16 February 2022

Quickly Draw a Working Flowchart or Depict a Business Process

The schematic way of presenting information is very popular today. The scheme is convenient to study in an accelerated mode. In conditions when you need to quickly understand the problem or issue very quickly, and there is no time for this at all, the scheme is a real panacea!

In the case when we depict information using various parameters and blocks for generalization, we will already talk about the so-called flowcharts. A block diagram is no different from the most common diagram, which can be quickly sketched with a pen on a piece of paper, but contains so-called blocks. A block here is a group of operations, actions, or some other way combined into a single array of information or data flow. Signs of grouping can be very different.


Flowcharts are familiar to anyone who is somehow connected with the construction of a business process diagram or with programming. In these cases, this is literally an inevitable tool, without which nothing can be done at all. After all, if several specialists are working on the issue at once, they need to be able to summarize everything into a single algorithm. If such information is written in a continuous text, then it will be very difficult to understand it.

Diagrams can be drawn in a variety of ways. If the scheme is supposed to describe the business process, then it is customary to draw such a scheme in a certain way. The way it is displayed is called notations. Here we come across a new concept called business process notation. In the end, notation is a certain gost or style of writing, which is adhered to in order to understand each other more easily. There are several notations. We talked about this in an article on our Zen channel. There we analyzed four main types of notations. Accordingly, one of the first points that you need to know for the correct compilation of the scheme is notations or symbols. This is the first thing to understand. But perhaps, let's move on to a step-by-step method of developing any scheme.

Step 1. Awareness of information

Before you make a diagram, of course, you should understand and realize what you need to display on this diagram and put things in order in your own head. Surprisingly, sometimes a person tries to draw a diagram without understanding what exactly he is trying to draw. The lack of a coherent connection of information in the head does not allow to depict this kind of related data set.

Accordingly, the first thing to do is to understand whether we understand what is happening at all in the process that we are trying to portray or not. It is necessary to clearly understand the issue and see the basic logic of the process. Moreover, we are talking both about the development of a new process or scheme, and when describing existing ones.

Step 2. Learn to see the most important things

When there is a common understanding of what is happening and we know that we do not point a finger at the sky, but understand some well-coordinated system, we should learn to highlight the most important thing. The logic here is simple. First, you need to draw or describe the "ridge" of what is happening, and then hang it with additional auxiliary data.

This is somewhat reminiscent of building a frame house. First, a frame of timber is built, and then it is upholstered with boards or insulated.

If we describe a business process, the logic is the same. Each business is based on some key process, and then a variety of processes are hung on it, like a branch tree. For example, if you depict the simplest logic of the resale business, the main process will be very simple: Acquisition from a supplier - resale - making a profit. But if you just look at the business scheme of the cash register of such a store alone, your eyes will come out on your forehead.


A similar picture is characteristic of software development. In the field of software engineering, flowcharts are also often used. There's a similar modification going on there, too. The basic process is taken, and then hung with auxiliary chains. For example, if you consider the flowchart of the most common mail program, then it will also be very simple: Click on the button - send a letter - send a delivery notification.

But it is obvious that with such a simple scheme, no application will work. Therefore, the same procedure for pressing the button needs to be significantly expanded. In reality, it would be something like this: Issue a notification - receive a response from the user - group the data to be sent into a single array - put it in a working temporary memory buffer - connect to the server - get a notification from the server about the connection - start the data transfer - notify the user - mark the procedure as "successful". This is only a partial decoding of one of the stages of decryption.

Step 3. Learn the legend

Symbols or notations are like the language of communication between people. In order to understand each other, you need to speak the same language. As a matter of fact, there was a need to standardize the schema recording options in some way. As in the languages in which people communicate, in flowcharts there are rules and general logic of presentation. For all types of flowcharts, there is a set of requirements. This applies to business and programming, and other areas where it is possible to meet schemes as such.

In general, the designations do not affect anything. You can choose a variety of notations, but the most important thing that is worth noting here is the ability to understand each other. Usually, before the implementation of the project, either the customer himself says that we work in such and such a notation, or it is chosen arbitrarily based on the "stuffedness" of the hands of specialists who will work with this.

Step 4. Selecting a working tool

When all the designated points are known and it is clear what exactly needs to be described, you should choose a working tool. The scheme can be drawn on paper with a pen, but it is much easier to use some modern electronic tools.

Depending on the complexity of the task, you can use a variety of applications, but based on our experience, Visio applications have proven themselves well for solving a variety of tasks and   

One of them is part of the Office software product, is paid and in general, nothing particularly remarkable is different. We are talking about Visio. All the basic functions are there. Drawing a diagram of almost any complexity is quite possible and even relatively convenient.

But the second, which we constantly use ourselves in our work, compares favorably.


The address of the program on the Internet is here. It is equipped with convenient integrations with literally all existing and, probably, even non-existent services. It is distributed for free, is very good friends with services from Google and allows you to build literally any schemes. You can work both online and download the program to your computer or mobile.

With such tools, it is quite possible to cope with a variety of tasks and draw even the most complex flowcharts of both business processes and the logic of the future program.

Step 5. Know the basic rules for building flowcharts

For convenience, it is useful to know a few useful tips or unspoken logical rules that will allow you to build a phased flowchart.

Be sure to have two blocks in the scheme - these are "Beginning" and "End". Obviously, any algorithm or business process can have only one beginning or only one end.

The initial block communicates with the final block by means of communication lines, which can be supplemented by various intermediate operations. From all blocks, except for the final one, flow lines should come out.

All blocks are convenient to number. So it is easier for you to navigate when analyzing the scheme, and for someone who is trying to comprehend the result you have received.

It's no secret that the lines are divided into incoming and outgoing. If the blocks are not starting or ending, or terminal for a particular branch, then the same line is for one block leaving and for another incoming.

Breaks in flow lines are allowed. It's business as usual! After all, each branch sooner or later has a logical conclusion.

The logic of the process can be linear, branching or cyclical. Presumably, the question should not appear here :) If the blocks are on a straight line, this is a linear option. If there are branches in the diagram , then the scheme is branching (always the real scheme is like this). Cyclical - for a programmer is a common thing, but for a business analyst it is more rare. For example, refueling a car before each flight is a cyclical operation.

Step 6. Elaboration of the existing scheme of the process "from" and "to"

When the diagram is drawn, you need to check whether the logic is followed and whether it is really possible to do at least something according to the developed scheme? If so, then we have coped with the task. But if the scheme turned out with errors and the drawing logic is broken, then this will be visible and it will be possible to make changes.

In general, this is not difficult to do. You need to put yourself in the shoes of someone who will read the developed scheme and analyze whether it is possible to understand something there if you do not know the essence of what is happening. It is often recommended to imagine that we do not know anything at all and try to work out the scheme with this logic.

Well, then you should work out the whole scheme in stages and make sure that the bricks of the blocks are quite enough. If this can be done, then we have built a block diagram.

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