Preparing Process Block Diagrams
A process block diagram is a simple flowchart that represents an overview of the
process or system. Process block diagrams are used to simplify a complex process.
As opposed to a program flowchart, a process block diagram does not show inputs
and outputs to the process. Process block diagrams are not generally used to give a
detailed understanding of the process.
Process Block Diagram Symbols
Each step or activity in a process block diagram is represented by a rectangle. Each
rectangle is named to describe the activity it represents. The label on the rectangle
should begin with a verb and should accurately describe the activity completed within
the box. Action verbs followed by an object are good descriptive labels that improve
the understanding of process block diagrams. For example, "Process Funds" is not as
descriptive a phrase as "Receive Funds."
The rectangles are connected with arrows. The arrows represent the flow of
information between the process steps. Alternatively the arrows represent the
sequence of the steps or relationships between steps.
Elongated circles are used to denote the beginning and end of the process.
Process block diagrams can be drawn vertically or horizontally. A vertical
presentation is generally easier to follow. It is also easier to work with because there
is ample room beside each activity to add notes or handwritten comments during
review sessions. However, a horizontal presentation may be necessary if the process
contains many steps. Organizing the activities horizontally may allow the process to
be contained on a single page.
How to Prepare a Process Block Diagram
To prepare a process block diagram:
Identify the start and completion of the process.
Break the process down into discrete steps or activities.
List all steps.
Label each step appropriately.
Organize the steps into the correct sequence.
Place an elongated circle at the start of the process.
Draw a rectangle for each step, in a horizontal or vertical line.
Label the rectangle.
Connect each rectangle with an arrow to show the flow of steps.
Place an elongated circle at the end of the process.
Review the diagram with the person responsible for the process.
When preparing a process block diagram for an existing business process, refer to any
existing procedure documentation. In addition, you must also learn how the process
is actually completed. This can be accomplished using a number of Data Gathering
Tips and Hints
For a small or simple business process, a process block diagram may not be required.
Depending on the size and complexity of the process to be documented, it may be
acceptable to prepare a ANSI standard flowchart for the entire business process.
The example shows a simple process block diagram representing the employee
review process in a matrix management model. In this model, each employee has a
career manager who helps manage the employee's career aspirations. Each employee
also has a line manager, who is responsible for managing the employee on a daily