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Work-Flow Chart: Example & Definition

Work-Flow Chart: Example & Definition
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  • 0:03 What Is a Work-Flow Chart?
  • 0:33 Why Are Work-Flow…
  • 1:07 How Is a Work-Flow…
  • 1:54 Where the Information…
  • 2:51 After the Chart Is Completed
  • 3:03 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Carol Woods

Carol has taught college Finance, Accounting, Management and Business courses and has a MBA in Finance.

Do you know what a work-flow chart is and why you might want to create one? Continue on to learn what it is, how it's done, and the advantages of creating one for your business.

What Is a Work-Flow Chart?

A work-flow chart is a diagram showing major steps in a business process. It shows how tasks or actions flow from one group or person to another. It gives a high level view of a business process, and excludes individual tasks or steps.

Here is an example of a customer order process:

flow chart example

As you can see, in this process the customer places an order with either customer service or sales. Once the payment is processed, the item is shipped to the customer.

Why Are Work-Flow Charts Created?

Since work-flow charts show overview information, they are used to identify these things:

  • An overview of a business process: they are often placed in a process book or presentation before the individual detailed process flows that make up each step.

  • Interactions between departments, since these transitions are a potential place for process delays or errors during the handoff process

  • The number of different departments involved in a process, especially when looking for ways to simplify and streamline business methods.

How Is a Work-Flow Chart Designed?

Work-flow charts start with a specific business process - like the customer order fulfillment in our example above - and show each major step or team involved in that process. Standard flow chart symbols are used, such as a rectangle for a process, a diamond for a decision, and an oval for the start or end point of a process. Arrows are used to show the flow of information or goods from one process to the next. Charts may be color coded to show different departments or functional areas and may have time frames shown for each step.

The charts are generally prepared using a computer program. The standard symbols are available in many common office programs, including Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, and there are specialized programs available for flow charting, such as Visio.

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