Thursday, 21 October 2010

Developing Procedures from Flowcharts

Disclosures - Process Overview There any many instances on the web where people have confused process mapping with flowcharting.  I'll save you the tedium of professional debate on this and move quickly on to a great use for flowcharting for documenting business activity.

Post Procedure for Blog 2 Assuming that for each business process, you will produce a process diagram or map, each of these diagrams will have several process steps through which work progresses.  When you want to explore a process step in greater detail, flowcharting is a great way to get the logic straight.

The flowcharts provide useful documentation in their own right - for analysis and for training new staff, for instance.  However if used for training there is probably more detail you will want to add - lots more explanatory text, details of buttons to press, keys to hit, filing cupboards to access and so on.  You will probably want to include screen shots from systems and images of reports and documents also.  It's at this point you might start thinking about producing a full blown procedure.

Action Post Procedure One approach is to re-key the flowchart into a mind mapping tool as a preliminary step.  Choose one with good export to Word features, here I have used MindView as I think it is the easiest to use and has the most predictable export results. The initial advantage of using mind mapping software is that you can retain the original structure of your flowchart as you add more detail and wrestle further with the logic and structure.

When you are ready, export the map to Word.  Time spent creating your preferred template and style set in Word will save you time later on, especially if you are creating many procedures through several iterations. Think carefully about how you use the different levels in the mind map so that they translate to the appropriate Word paragraph style.  Well thought out application of Word styles will help preserve the structure, levelling and flow. 

Procedure template Also decide how you will denote switches in logic flow and how to set out decisions.  I reserve using branch links or relationships for only big switches in logic flow - these become "GoTo's" in the procedure document. 

Where a question is posed, consider using structured English with an "IF ... THEN .... ELSE" style dialogue. 

Design a set of icons to use on the mind maps to highlight different ideas in the procedure, such as tips and examples.  These can be exported with the text to Word and will make your procedure document more engaging.

Once you've exported the mind map you are then free to add additional notes and images to complete the procedure.  You will only want to do this at the final stage so that any edits are not lost should you need to re-export the mind map.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Keeping Up with the IAF-Europe Conference

This year's conference - "Paradoxes in Facilitation" - is being held in Helsinki.  It runs from Friday 15th October until Sunday 17th.  Colleagues from all over Europe are attending.

To keep up with what's happening during the conference, why not visit the conference blog at  Attendees will be posting throughout the event including thoughts, reactions and images.

IAF Europe Conference - Helsinki - 2010






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