Flowchart Definition and Meaning

A diagram is called a graph that displays the existing links between the various elements that make up a system or a set. The idea of ​​flow, for its part, can allude to different issues: in this case we are interested in its meaning as the process and consequence of flowing (advancing, sprouting).

A flowchart, therefore, is a drawing that represents the different steps of a procedure or the successive events that are part of something. These diagrams serve to see the stages or moments of what it intends to represent.

Flow charts are often present in instruction manuals or user manuals. Take the case of a television. On one of your manual pages, there is a flowchart that begins with the question “Your TV has no picture?” . From that block comes a down arrow that leads to another question “Is the TV on?” . In this instance, a right arrow points to the “No” option and links to the “Turn on TV” prompt. Another arrow, instead, continues down to the “Yes” option and gives way to another question: “Are you connected correctly to the cable or television signal?”. In this way, through different arrows and blocks with questions and possible answers, the flow chart is put together.

Widescreen flowcharts are those that are developed vertically and horizontally, with simultaneous actions. Those in horizontal format, on the other hand, present a sequence developed only from left to right, while flowcharts in vertical format go from top to bottom, like an ordered list of activities or steps.

A flowchart typically has a single starting point and a single closing point. However, it is possible to add more if the structure responds to the logic of this way of organizing information. To find a well-constructed flowchart, it is necessary to follow a series of well-defined steps and take into account certain issues related to the nature of the chart, its application and its effectiveness.

First, we must identify the most important ideas that we want to include in the flowchart. This requires the participation of both the author of the process and any person who has been involved in some way throughout it, or whose work will be relevant in future phases. Since the data in a flowchart must be succinct and substantiated, only someone with the relevant technical knowledge can pick it out and assign it to an appropriate location.

Once we have identified the issues to be discussed, it is time to define the objectives that we intend to achieve by creating the flowchart. This usually remains in the background, despite being a fundamental aspect of any process: how to evaluate the effectiveness of a system if we have not developed it with a series of clear goals from the beginning?

Similar to the previous point, before creating the flowchart we need to know who it is for, what their needs are and how they will use it. If we think of a history lesson, for example, the language and the challenges will not be the same for a university student as for a young child, even if the subject matter is the same.

This is also linked to the degree of detail of the information, something that we must clearly define from the beginning, to avoid consistency errors that affect the clarity of the material.


About the author