Document Formats: Text Procedures vs. Flow Charts (Process Maps)

N

noboxwine

#1
I have utilized a multitude of Procedure formats, some to little avail, yet 3rd party compliant . Mulit Level bullets and numbering no matter how I try are still confusing. However, a flow chart type format not only looks friendly, it seems to force me to keep is short and simple--- and forces the user to read from start to finish. I now have been developing electronic Visio "Process Instructions", as I call them, that also can include tasks within. They also contain hyperlinks to other documents referenced in bold. I have an independent person walk through it to prove it's effectiveness. If it works, I have accomplished my goal. The attached one, written by our Plant Manager, is easily understood by all tax brackets within our company and has proven more effective than any other format we have tried. This post is three fold: 1) I have heard registrars issuing a Major for this format. How ? 2) Does anyone out there do the same thing and be willing to share their format. 3) Comments / suggestions, please.

Thanks fellow Quality Types. May all your parts that measure within spec perform sound as well.
 

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JodiB

Still plugging along
#2
Not quite..

Some of our old procedures used a flowchart on one side accompanied by numbered text on the other. And now I am building process flows (my ex. was posted earlier) that provides links to other docs, but we still have text procedures also that are built underneath the process flow.

Interesting that you bring this up at this time, because I was just speaking with my boss the other day about how the process flows I'm doing actually look more like a procedure and the supporting "procedures" actually read more like work instructions. And I was wondering if perhaps we should refer to the flowchart then as the "procedure" (and number it accordingly) and the others as "work instructions". I really hate this nomenclature thing.

But what would be missing from the flowchart procedures is exactly what you've managed to box in on your's. The responsibilites, scope, purpose, etc. I don't know if we'll change over or not, but it is nice to see how someone else managed it.

I definitely like flowcharts. Give me a flowchart everytime over an old dry written document.
 

barb butrym

Quite Involved in Discussions
#3
flow charts = majors?

I have never seen a flow chart format be the reason for a major NC.

Some people/auditors communication skills allow for misinterpretations.....perhaps it was missing important information, or invalid or no evidence to support it......the format could NOT be the reason...where is the shall?

I use VISIO and link to digital video when necessary (a new addition/offering...its awesome). You have even more detail than mine, and my clients have been successfully audited by more than 1 registrar with these as the main procedures and work instructions FOR YEARS...long before process flows became popular as in 9K2k.
I think in flow cahrts...LOL:bigwave:
 
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barb butrym

Quite Involved in Discussions
#4
a rose by any other name is still a rose, why get tied into nomenclature at all?

Merge the document levels 2, 3. or even 1, 2.... Most do anyway......the only reason auditors go there is 'cause you say so in your system/manual...some elements can be just as easily covered in the manual w/o a detailed procedure...depending on the company..so why create work/duplication (unless there is a shall......of course)
 
#5
Flowcharts for Procedures

I must fully agree with Lucinda (its about time I came around :p ), however (you knew that had to be there) I do want to make a couple of points. First, to some flowcharts are more confusing than narration. That is why I really like the flowchart on one side and the narration on the other. Secondly, I had a client receive a major in 4.5 for having procedures that were only flowcharts. It was not because they did not have enough information, the auditor stated that they were “flowcharts” not procedures. When challenged the registrar stated it was the auditor’s call.
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#6
Re: Flowcharts for Procedures

db said:

First, to some flowcharts are more confusing than narration. That is why I really like the flowchart on one side and the narration on the other.
I would venture to say the first glance this may be true, but I have never had that experience of flow charts confusing people. Once I explained 1 to them, it was all much better understood (not to mention used) than the former text procedures.

Secondly, I had a client receive a major in 4.5 for having procedures that were only flowcharts. It was not because they did not have enough information, the auditor stated that they were “flowcharts” not procedures. When challenged the registrar stated it was the auditor’s call.
What year was that? I'd have dropped that registrar like a hot potato on the spot. I've used flow charts for years. I was challanged back in 1994 or '95 once - the only time - and they 'came around' and accepted the flow charts. They ARE procedures. To say otherwise is silly. Look up the definition of what a procedure is. A procedure is a way of doing something. There is no "only text documents are procedures" anywhere. I dare you to name the registrar who made that call.
 

Mike S.

Happy to be Alive
Trusted Information Resource
#7
So far I've only used flowcharts along with a text procedure - all in the same document. The flowchart mainly helps to give a quick summary of long procedures, which is often all the user needs (it helps with the "I forget if I'm supposed to do "X" next or "Y" next" kind of questions). If the flowchart is enough, fine, if the user needs more explanation or detail, the text is there, too, to supplement the flowchart.

However, as others have said, I can't understand why a flowchart by itself would be rejected as a valid procedure format simply and only because it was a flowchart.
__________
Quote: Secondly, I had a client receive a major in 4.5 for having procedures that were only flowcharts. It was not because they did not have enough information, the auditor stated that they were “flowcharts” not procedures. When challenged the registrar stated it was the auditor’s call.
__________

If the flowchart text were put into a "normal" written procedure with "typical" step numbering, would that bonehead auditor have accepted it? If so, he/she, IMHO, is a nutcase. There is no logic in that at all that I can see. What am I missing here?

I have a few upcoming procedures/work instructions that I was considering doing as pure flowcharts. I hope that option is still there for me after this thread reaches its end.

Mike S.
 
#8
Re: Flowcharts for Procedures

Marc, I have known situations where the flowchart was issued without any training (not too bright of an idea). If you have no experience in flowcharts, it could seem to be a bit overwhelming. However, I also believe they are easier to train with. Once someone understands flowcharting conventions, future flowcharts will be a lot easier.

On the major, it probably would not be good for me to disclose the name of the company, or the registrar. The company was very upset with us (we suggested using flowcharts). I wanted to suggest a different registrar, but our upper management thought it might be viewed as us trying to pass the buck. Instead, we offered to convert to narrative procedures at no charge, but the company did not want us to do any thing more. After all, we had “done enough damage” already! I do not know if they still have the same registrar (this was a couple of years back).
 
#10
4.5?

Mike S, I agree it really didn't make any sense to me either. Even if flowcharts alone were a problem, you might have a case against 4.2.2 b), but I can't see 4.5! They were controlled properly.

That was part of my argument. But the Management Rep was clearly intimidated by the auditor, and the owner was demanding registration “now”! Once politics entered the picture, nothing else mattered.

BTW, the Management Rep called the registrar with the challenge, he did not formally challenge the n/c.
 
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