Flowcharts with Graphics

It is often difficult to talk about a proposed change in a business process or new computer system with potential users, managers and executives who understand their business but have little or no process redesign or systems development expertise. A picture can be worth a thousand words. Particularly a picture that can be updated, modified and expanded as more and more people become involved in the planning, development, and implementation process.

I recently developed a set of flow charts that included small graphics to illustrate an electronic medical records system in the early planning stages. You do not have to be a doctor to understand it. Anyone who has been to a doctor can follow the illustration of who does what with whom and when. It has proven to be a useful place to begin the detailed discussion about the needs and benefits for a specific practice.

A similar illustration was used to document the “as is” and “to be” processes for an automotive client. It showed the flow from dealers to corporate sales to manufacturing to a vendor and back in response to complaints from new car buyers. The “as is” presented the problem; the “to be” presented the recommended solution. All that was required was two 11”x17” pages plus two pages of text support. Recommendation was approved.

A flow chart with small graphics provides a good generalized illustration that is useful for almost any process or computer system. It answers the high level questions of who and what and when and, perhaps the most important question: How will it impact me and my organization? It provides a solid base for the level of detail required for the successful design, development and testing of a new process or system.

Sample flowchart with graphics.

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