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By Yvonne Winkel on October 17 2018 22:40:09

Many departments have established business rules based on guiding principles and philosophies that may have been created years before. Because there has been no initiative in documenting these procedures, chances are that there are many rules still in place that are causing unnecessary barriers and redundancies that add to the purchase order cycle time.A flowchart is a sequence of graphical symbols and shapes that can be used to help subject matter experts visually walk through their processes and validate those rules for accuracy and relevancy based on current business needs.

Usually, this exercise takes place during an e-procurement project as part of the analysis phase, but can be done at any time. As long as there is a resource who has the proper skills and knows how to draw a flowchart to help the various departments identify their current procedures and potential problem areas within the purchase order approval process.

A flowchart can enable the process analyst to effectively document the information given to them by the subject matter experts. With a defined list of symbols, directional arrows and flow diagrams, flowcharts can help the team find gaps and or problem areas that have been known for awhile but have never been visually mapped out in an as-is process map.

In terms of the Information Systems industry, flowcharts have been used for years, well before the introduction of the commercial computer in business. Originally they included process diagrams; later they were used by programmers as a convenient means to document program logic. Such flowcharts typically made use of ANSI standard flowcharting symbols. But as the Structured Programming movement flourished in the late 1970`s, ANSI symbols were considered archaic, and many new types of diagramming techniques emerged, including Bubble Diagrams, Data Structure Diagrams, E/R Diagrams, HIPO, VTOC, etc. (anybody remember Nassi-Schneiderman Charts?). I could argue the pros and cons of the various techniques but that is not the point. What is important is that all of these diagramming techniques acknowledged documentation as an inherent part of the design process.

A flowchart could be defined as a pictorial representation of a process in which the steps are symbolized by shapes - in other words a diagram that explains the steps in a procedure. Each shape should link to its neighbour by a connector line, and often these have arrow heads to describe the direction of flow.

I guess what I`m driving at is that despite all of this peripheral activity, and to refute my Business Analyst friend, the principal thrust of the engineer or architect is to produce and maintain a reliable set of drawings. It all comes down to boxes and lines. Interestingly, today`s analysts and programmers think drawings are "old-hat" or passé. I don`t care whether you draw it with pencil and paper or by computer, documentation is an inherent part of the design process. Failure to recognize this is to deny reality.

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