Process Flow Diagram
The process flow diagram illustrates the process as a flow chart. Graphic elements such as rectangles represent tasks, arrows represent flows such as information, inverted triangle represents storage or inventory, and circles represent storage of information. The entry and exit points of inputs and outputs define the boundaries of the process to complete tasks.
The process flow diagram help determine process capacity, flow rate, capacity utilization, lead time, idle time and set up time. Identification of the bottleneck or the slowest task provides an opportunity to increase capacity. The process flow also helps determine whether starvation or blocking of a process occurs and help iron out such process flaws. For instance, the quality analysis team might remain idle due to lack of output from the data entry team. The flow diagram help determine the best alternative to overcome such starvation by considering whether changing the position of quality analysis in the flow diagram helps remove such starvation.
A major drawback of the process flow diagram is that it represents the way the process actually it, and not the way it ideally should be. For instance, employees might not disclose rework loops or other potentially embarrassing and illogical aspects of the process. The possibility of some important component deemed insignificant left out alters the equations in a big way.
Process Flow Diagrams take many forms. A popular type is the the Gap Analysis Flow Chart that help determine the extent to which the processes fulfill strategic objectives of the enterprise.
Image Credit: flickr.com/Ivan Walsh