Process Flow in Visio

by Janice Uwujaren

Process flow diagrams in Microsoft Visio can be the initiating point for documenting and providing an overview of a complete process flow. A process flow is a series of related tasks that a business or system executes to achieve a desired outcome. Developing and analyzing process flows in Visio can be as simple as connecting data from an external data source to shapes in Visio. Adding Visual Basic for Applications code to Visio elements supports complex analysis of process flow connectivity. Visio offers a rich environment for translating business or system activities into well-defined process flow diagrams for more meaningful process definition, analysis and visualization.

Types of Process Flow Diagrams in Visio

The two types of process flow diagrams in Visio are general-purpose and methodology-based. The basic flowchart and workflow diagram are two examples of general-purpose process flow diagrams. General-purpose diagrams are generic and flexible. They are applicable and can adapt to fit most business situations or activities. Event-driven process chain and fault-tree analysis are two examples of methodology-based process flow diagrams available in Microsoft Visio. They tend to be rigid and structured around the principles of a specific methodology. You can typically only use methodology-based diagrams with specific process implementations.

Workflow Diagram

The workflow diagram is a general-purpose process diagram. It is a common process flow diagram used to depict the flow of sequential information or tasks in a process related to particular work objectives. Several shapes or symbols are associated with a workflow diagram. The most common shapes include the terminator, arrows or connectors, rectangle and diamond. The Terminator shape indicates the beginning or end of a workflow. Arrows or connectors determine the direction of the workflow. The rectangle identifies a process or task. A diamond shape evaluates a decision in the workflow.

Event-driven Process Chain Diagram

The Event-driven Process Chain diagram is an important methodology-based modeling tool for analyzing process flows in business engineering schemes or for project network analysis. Functions, events and connectors are major elements of the EPC diagram. Graphical symbols associate processes to chains of events and functions. Connectors outline the interactions between events and activities. Logical operators such as AND, OR and XOR (exclusive OR) in the connectors detail the relationships. This diagram and its elements are ideal for process flows associated with an Enterprise Resource Planning implementation.

Fault-Tree Analysis Diagram

The fault-tree analysis diagram is a preemptive methodology-based process flow tool used mostly to analyze events to prevent failure. This diagram type is appropriate for depicting process flows associated with six-sigma business improvement processes. It mimics a tree structure in that the diagramming process begins with the failure at the top and processes that may cause the failure are branches or linked connections to the failure in a top-down fashion. You can use the information contained in the complete diagram to conduct analysis to pinpoint methods for reducing or eliminating all possible points of failure. The diagram is also beneficial as input to a remedial plan to prevent these failures.

About the Author

Janice Uwujaren has been writing professionally since 1996. Her articles have been published on various websites. Her experience includes developing content for proposals, websites, training materials and technical documentation. Uwujaren has a Bachelor of Science in computer information systems from Strayer University.

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