Defining Processes and their Interactions - Are Flowcharts Required?


Toni Herrera

It is my understanding that we are required to put a flowchart or process diagram (similar to the Process model at the beginning of the standard) into our Quality manual to meet the requirement of 4.2.2 C) "a description of the interaction between the processes of the quality management system" ?? IS THIS TRUE?

Or can this be achieved in text format?

In 1999, when we developed the structure of our system...(designed around our 9 major processes from Design to Shipping instead of the 20 ISO elements) we gave each process a unique number in the system for all their documents. In addition we gave supporting processes the first numbers so folks can find them faster (Section 1.0). Our quality manual explains our identified processes necessary for our QMS are defined by the structure of our system, interaction is defined in the procedures.

Now as a small comment, I just want to say that interaction is inherent to the operation of the business. The Receiving process is always operating from the Purchasing processes' output, and Accounts Payable operates on both processes outputs.

I mean does this really need to be flowed out? Do I really have to flow this out for the auditor? And what value will this document provide our quality system?


Hello Toni,

(Or can this be achieved in text format?)

Yes, yes yes... A flow chart would make it easier for an auditor but text description of the interaction between the processes of the quality management system is acceptable.



A flow chart would make it easier for an auditor

While this is important, I also think a visual depiction, as in a flow chart or process map, is also useful in understanding your own processes. Most process maps I've seen, however do a less than adequate job of describing the interaction of the processes. They typically center around just the one process.

My recommendation is to use the flow chart where it helps you and to use narrative where it helps. Not only are both allowed, you can use both to supplement the other.

Great question. Keep 'em coming.

Toni Herrera


Have either one of you seen examples of how other folks have used text to describe interactions?

I have been reading the other thread regarding 4.2.2 in TS16949, which is pretty much the same subject, but I guess my thick brain is not understanding the "why" part yet. :confused:

Regardless, of why, now I need to figure out how. Any sites you would recommend or examples of text descriptions?


If you could post some of your examples, it would be grealy appreciated! Thanks, Dawn
PS Dont be a shy browser forever!


Process Interaction

This attachment is a process interaction to produce petroleum.
Reinaldo Ramirez


  • interaccion procesos.ppt
    152 KB · Views: 726


The Auditor Has Left the Building

I noticed the commnet "A flow chart would make it easier for an auditor". While this is true and has its importance within your QMS ... IMHO the real reason for using a flow or process type chart is to make it easy for the employees to understand the flow ... not the auditor. It's the employees who use the system on a daily basis and make the system work or fail. Designing any part of the system with the auditor as the primary target is again IMHO not the prime reason for having a QMS in the first place.

I created my flow/process chart with the ease of use by the employees the paramount design criteria. I then created a simple cross-referrence matrix (for referrence only) for the sole use of the auditor. I never even published it for anyone else. It took my auditor an extra hour to "map his brain" to my system using this mattrix, but after that everything went well. I've gotten away from letting the "power of the auditor" drive HOW my QMS is designed and HOW it evolves. I don't disreguard the auditor ... I place him in the proper context within the operation of MY QMS.
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