PROCESS MANAGEMENT GLOSSARY

What is Process Flowchart?

A process flowchart illustrates a business process method.

It often depicts a simple notation of the basic workflow of a process. The flowchart depicts the major elements of a process flow but omits the minor details which are not necessary for understanding the overall flow of work. An analogy can be made to a simple flowchart which may be used to show the route to a store location; it may depict things like landmarks and distances in an exaggerated or simplified format, but still, serve to help find the store. In a similar manner, a simple process flowchart helps us quickly identify and understand the major activities of the process.

Like a standard flowchart, a process flowchart uses different symbols to visualise what is happening in the process. They use the following symbols:

Swimlane

A swimlane identifies who is working on each task. While not technically a symbol, it’s a critical component of the process flowchart. Symbols are placed on horizontal lanes (swimlanes). Each lane has a role associated with it so you recognise who is assigned to which tasks.

Activity

An activity is a rectangle that represents a step taken towards a goal. Each activity can be multiple steps, what is crucial, is that the activity is a single aspect of an entire business process. Which when combined with other activities, decisions and perhaps events complete the process flowchart.

Decision

The decision is a diamond shape indicating a fork in the flowchart. The decision is able to lead to multiple outcomes in complex scenarios but usually has two outcomes.

Event

Events establish the start and end of flowcharts. The event, represented by a circle is important because they state what initiates the process and why.

Customer Handling Example Process flowchart for Event Definition

Further resources:

Read our guide to simple process mapping


Source: Business Process Management Common Body of Knowledge (BPM CBOK, 2009), The Association of Business Process Management Professionals

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