Helping your team overcome typical flowchart challenges
When it’s done well, facilitating the people in your team and wider organisation to effectively and clearly define the current state of their processes will provide a foundation for your improvement efforts. Experience also tells us that the flowchart is an essential tool to help sustain the gains you’ve made as part of an initiative, an invaluable part of your daily process management activities.
So, what are the 5 key flowchart challenges that your team faces when aiming for maximum value from this top improvement tool?
1. They are written by people outside of the process
Flowcharts written without involving the people who do the work are often not a true representation of how the work works, and may fail to take into account nuances of different locations. They should document the best-known way, and it is experienced process operators who have this valuable insight to add when creating flowcharts.
2. They document the how but not the why
Repeating processes without questioning their purpose can result in siloed working. When creating flowcharts, keep in mind the question: “what are we trying to accomplish?” and ensure the purpose is clearly stated at the top of the flowchart. Empower your team – your process operators, by explaining the purpose behind the activities they carry out and the value they add for their customers.
3. They are too complicated
Overuse of technical or corporate language combined with long, complicated sentences, leads to cumbersome flowcharts that are difficult to follow. Utilise simple verb-noun methodology to focus on the deliverables, and maximise the benefits of visual signposts; use photos, diagrams, links to Standard Operating Procedures, even videos to demonstrate the ‘how’.
4. They are outdated
As an organisation that practices Daily Process Management, you’ll identify regular opportunities to improve processes. Failing to keep flowcharts current can generate inconsistent output causing variation in quality, speed, and cost. Process confirmation will help you to incorporate changes. Remember to maintain a record of the reason for the change.
5. They are not communicated
Well-written flowcharts have little value for a team if they’re not aware of them, or adequately trained in using them. Clearly state version numbers and review dates on published updates, and ensure they can be accessed easily at the point of need – including when looking for improvement opportunities. Hyperlinks in the flow of work can be a great way to maintain access.