Document Format - Flow Charts vs. Strictly Linear Text for Procedures


George Trybulski

Document Format

ISO 9002 registered in November of 1997, fully documented, two years later looking back at the documents, I feel like throwing up! Our documents are based in Microsoft Word with cut and pasted flowcharts from VISIO. (this was not my idea)I would like to reconstruct our document base but torn between staying with the flowchart style(there has to be more user friendly software out there) or go with strictly linear text for procedures. Pros and cons anybody ?

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!

I wrote our QM some 3 years back in linear fashion. I wish I had used flowcharts then, and I plan to incorporate them into the next major overhaul. Flowcharts are great for detecting redundancy within a process/system as well as serving as great aids to the internal auditors (or anyone just trying to get a feel of how things work). Written documents often do not illustrate the complexity of systems, and when written in a linear fashion, can lead to confusion. My suggestion, keep them in.

As for software, I have only the experience using ABC Flowchart. This software seems to to a fair to good job on importing. You might want to browse the Net to see if they have sample software to download on a trial basis.




I think that you would be doing yourself a great disservice by eliminating them.

Firstly, I don't which version of what you are using, but I use Office 97 and Visio Professional. The two software programs integrate and do NOT require you creating flowcharts in one and pasting into the other. There should be a Visio Toolbar Button in Office applications (once you have installed Visio) and you can operate Visio from within Office. I do it every day. I think it is wonderful. I can revise the Visio flowcharts as well as the Office text equally as easy and all from within Office.

Our entire Quality System is Microsoft Office based using Visio Flowcharting software(s). The system's "chapters" are divided up by applicable elements of the standards and the procedures of the facility are in the chapter (element) that is most relevant.

This has worked great, the auditors love it, and the people love it.

However, now MIS wants to incorporate it into Lotus Notes. I fear but am open-minded...

OOPS! Almost forgot. WAY BACK WHEN, I first created the entire Quality System as text based. After compiling all of the information and formatting it, putting it all in to place... EVERYBODY HATED IT! Just despised it. It was difficult to read and very "uninteresting" to the user. I went out, purchased Visio, redid the whole system, people loved it SIMPLY because of its "visual appeal." The flowchart also greatly enhances one's ability to eliminate "extranneous excessive verbiage" which I am prone to do (in case you couldn't tell by this response).

You'll regret elimination of flowcharts. We have all heard of the KISS method. It works. People love simplicity. Training can fill in where the "excessive verbiage" is missing.


[This message has been edited by ALM (edited 18 August 1999).]


Anyone who knows me knows that for a number of years I have praised flow charts.

Andy Bassett


Your post worries me a little, as i use Visio Flowcharts pasted into Word everyhwere.

Flowcharts are king. i think people who work with processes all day long tend to forget that even seemingly intelligent peole like Engineers need a certain time before they can get a feeling for what a process is, and flowcharts defintely are the simplest way to explain.

I have seen other systems, but vital to me is that they are accessable and usable to everyone. If only the people with the necessary software can open the documents or try to create them themselves,then there is chance that all the workload will fall onto the poor person that has the software, nobody will develop an interest in processes.


Andy B
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