Although traditional flowcharts have been around for some time and are very good for showing basic streams of processes and tasks or even for analysing how business is done etc, the traditional flowchart is falling out of favour. This is simply because the traditional flowchart is somewhat limited. It is great for demonstrating a simple process, or the steps required to perform a task, or even for the generating ideas, however, it is not always suitable for 21st Century needs.

The World Has Moved On

As technology has increased, the way that business is done has also moved on. Previous to the use of computers and software, various activities and functions were carried out by one team or department. Each had its own role, its own area of responsibility and these roles were clearly demarcated. Even typing and letters were only done by typists and secretaries and woe betide anyone who tried to type their own letters!

But times have changed. Now business is done much more collaboratively. There is much less emphasis on single roles and single areas of expertise and it is much more common to find activities and tasks that are carried out with input from a number of departments, which is much easier with technology and software to make this really straightforward.

Thus the traditional flowchart simply cannot easily show cross functional activities and although these can be categorised using different colours for different departments or for different personnel who input into a process, it can still be hard to get a real sense of who is doing what.

The Cross Functional Flowchart:

The cross functional flowcharts are easily read in terms of making it easy to see who is responsible for what and also how often a process gets shared or handed over between various teams and departments.

This can be important, because the number of times a process is ‘handed over’ can be critical in terms of how efficient that process is. If it is handed back and forth then it can be wasteful in terms of staff time.

The business process is broken down into steps in the cross functional flowchart and then the various stakeholders who input into the process are separately identified, so there is clear demarcation between the tasks or activities and all the different stakeholders.

The cross functional flowchart also highlights any areas where there is duplication or over processing, so that the actual business process itself can be made more efficient, whereas using the traditional flowchart, this is less easily demonstrated and so there is less opportunity to reduce inefficient practices.

This efficiency angle makes a cross functional flowchart the ideal tool to use within Lean thinking or the Six Sigma process, where the completed cross functional flowchart can show where delays may be caused by different stakeholders inputting into the process. So the cross functional flowchart is a useful tool when it comes to assessing performance and ensuring any waste within an organisation is substantially reduced.
Recipe For Success

Whilst it is important to recognise that the cross functional flowchart can be a useful tool it is still necessary to ensure that all the information entered into the flowchart is as thorough, detailed and accurate as it can be, otherwise it becomes a somewhat pointless exercise.

It is also vital that the flowchart is kept as simple as possible, because if the flowchart itself becomes too complex, it can be hard to see what it shows and the interpretation of the chart can become more difficult.

However, when compared to the traditional flowchart, there is very little contest; the cross functional flowchart is far easier to read and a key ingredient in any exercise to examine the efficient business processes of an organisation.

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