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Picture Your Processes with Microsoft Visio 2000 Flowcharts

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Fit the Flowchart to your Process

You can eliminate rework and retrofitting by making sure you're starting with the appropriate flowchart for the graphical problem you're trying to solve. The following table shows what types of data fit best into which types of flowcharts. Use it to identify the flowchart that fits the process you want to show, and then find out how to make your flowchart easy to revise.

Flowchart Toolkit

Flowchart type

Sample

Purpose

Audit Diagram

 

pictur01

Document and analyze processes that involve financial transactions and inventory management.

Basic Flowchart

 

pictur02

Describe or analyze processes, document procedures, indicate work or information flow, track cost and efficiency.

Cause-and-Effect Diagram (also called Ishikawa or fishbone diagrams

 

pictur03

Document the factors that contribute to a given outcome. Use for problem-solving.

Cross-functional Flowchart

 

pictur04

Show the relationship between a business process and the organizational or functional units responsible for the process.

Data Flow Diagram

 

pictur05

Document the logical flow of data through a set or processes or procedures, including external sources and destinations of the data, activities that transform the data, and stores or collections where the data is held.

IDEF0 Diagram

 

pictur06

Model business and organizational processes using standardized IDEF0 text, box, and arrow conventions.

Mind Mapping Diagram

 

pictur07

Brainstorm and problem-solve using Tony Buzan's mind maps (graphical representations of thought processes).

SDL Diagram

 

pictur08

Document communications and telecommunications systems networks using Specification and Description Language shapes designed to International Telecommunications standards.

TQM Diagram

 

pictur09

Create Total Quality Management flowcharts for business process re-engineering, total quality management, continuous improvement, and quality solutions.

Work Flow Diagram

 

pictur10

Describe, analyze, and document information flow, automation of business processes, accounting, management, and human resources tasks.

Make your Flowchart Easy to Revise

Microsoft Visio includes a special tool you can use so that connecting lines are added automatically when you drop shapes, and the shapes stay connected when you move them. It's called the connector tool pictur12 and, if you use it instead of simply drawing lines between the boxes with the line tool, you'll save time both as you create and revise a flowchart.

pictur11

Use the connector tool to add lines between shapes as you drop them.

If you want to learn more about connections between steps and how to control where lines go into or out of shapes, see More about connecting.

To create a basic flowchart that's easy to revise

  1. On the File menu, point to New, point to Flowchart, and then click Basic Flowchart.

  2. Drag a Process shape from the Basic Flowchart Shapes stencil to the drawing page.

  3. Click the connector tool pictur12 on the Standard toolbar. If you don't see the connector tool, on the View menu, click Toolbars, and then check Standard.

  4. Drag a second Process shape to the drawing page. The shapes connect automatically.

  5. Continue adding Process, Decision, Document and other shapes until all the shapes you want are on the page.

    Each new shape you drop connects to the shape that is selected at the time you drop it.

  6. Click the pointer tool pictur13 on the Standard toolbar.

  7. Optional To add text to a process step, click the shape representing the step, and then type.

  8. Optional To change the direction the process flows between two steps, click the connecting line between the steps. On the Shape menu, click Flip Horizontal if the connecting line is horizontal or Flip Vertical if the connecting line is vertical.

Tip You can also connect a series of shapes simultaneously by selecting the shapes you want to connect in the order you want them to connect, and then, on the Tools menu, clicking Connect Shapes.

More about Connecting

When you use the connector tool to create the connecting lines between steps in a flowchart, you glue the steps to one another dynamically. If you need more precise control over where lines go into or out of specific boxes, you can switch to static glue, which lets you determine exactly what point on the box a line enters, regardless of where you move the box later.

Dynamic connections

 

pictur14

When a connection is dynamic, the ends of a connecting line, or connector, are glued to entire shapes. If you move the shapes, the connecting line shifts so that the two closest points are connected.

Static connections

 

pictur15

When a connection is static, the ends of a connecting line, or connector, are glued to specific points on shapes. If you move the shapes, the connecting line remains glued at the original point.

How to identify connection type

To see whether a connection is dynamic or static, click the connecting line. If the ends of the line become large red squares, the connection is dynamic. If the ends become small red squares with symbols in them, the connection is static.

pictur16

How to change one type of connection to another

pictur17

To change from dynamic to static, drag a connecting line endpoint away from the shape, and then back to the blue x that indicates where you want the line to connect. To change from a static to a dynamic connection, drag a connecting line endpoint towards the middle of the process step shape until a red box surrounds the entire shape.

Change your Flowchart's Layout

You may want to revise the layout of a flowchart to improve the way it looks on the drawing page or to accommodate updates, such as the addition of new processes or decisions.

Two Ways to Revise Flowchart Layout

Use this method

When

Drag flowchart shapes (Manual)

Your flowchart is small.
You only have a few revisions to do.

Click the Lay Out Shapes command (Automatic)

Your flowchart is large and revising manually would take a lot of time.
You have added a new series of shapes to a large flowchart.

To manually revise a flowchart's layout

  1. Make sure the connections between the shapes are dynamic.

  2. Click the shape you want to move, and then drag it to its new location.

To automatically revise a flowchart's layout

  1. Make sure the connections between shapes are dynamic.

  2. If you want to revise the entire flowchart's layout, make sure no shapes are selected. If you want to revise the layout of one section of the flowchart, select the shapes in that section.

  3. On the Tools menu, click Lay Out Shapes.

  4. Click the layout options you want, and then click OK.

    If you need more information about an option, click the question mark in the Lay Out Shapes dialog box.

Tip If you don't like the automatic layout results, on the Edit menu, click Undo Lay Out Shapes.

Annotate your Process Steps

By providing a graphical representation of an entire process, a flowchart represents the big picture. Frequently, however, one step in a process is a complex world all on its own.

Two Ways to Annotate Process Steps

Use this method

When

Details

Add a navigational link to a flowchart shape

You want to jump directly from a shape to a diagram, document, or Web page where detailed information about the process step the shape represents can be found.

You can add links from shapes to
• Another page in the same diagram
• Another diagram
• Documents created in other programs, such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel
• Web pages.

Number flowchart shapes

You want to quickly locate references to the process steps in a numbered document.

You can add numbers by
• Manually or automatically adding them to shapes in flowcharts you have already created
• Setting up the numbering options in advance and automatically numbering shapes as you drop on the page.

Add navigational links

To add a navigational link to a flowchart shape

  1. Click the shape you want to add a link to.

  2. On the Insert menu, click Hyperlinks.

    Do one of the following:

    • To link to a Web site, for Address, type the Web site's URL or click Browse, click Internet Address, and then navigate to the site in your default Web browser.

    • To link to a document, for Address, click Browse, and then click Local File. Navigate to the local file, and then click Open.

    • To link to another page in the same diagram, leave Address blank. For Sub-address, click Browse, choose the page you want to link to, and then click OK.

  3. Leave the Use Relative Path For Hyperlink check box selected if you want to describe the location of the linked file in relation to the Visio diagram. A relative path means you can move the Visio diagram and linked file together without breaking the link. If you move only one of the files, however, you break the link.

    Select the Use Relative Path For Hyperlink check box if you want to spell out the exact location of the linked file in terms of drive, folder, and file name. You can move the Visio file without affecting the link but, if you move the linked file, you must reset the path.

  4. Click OK.

To follow the link to its destination

  1. Right-click the flowchart shape to which a link has been added.

  2. Click the name of the link you want.

Tip When you display a flowchart in Full Screen, or presentation, view (on the View menu, click Full Screen), links on shapes behave just like hyperlinks on Web pages.

Number flowchart shapes

To add numbers in an existing flowchart

  1. Display the drawing page that contains the flowchart shapes you want to add numbers to.

  2. Optional. If you want to add numbers only to specific shapes, select those shapes.

  3. On the Tools menu, click Number Shapes.

    On the General tab, under Operation, click

    • Auto Number, to automatically number shapes from left to right and then top to bottom on the drawing page.

    • Manually By Clicking, to control the sequence in which shapes are numbered by manually clicking the shapes in the order you want.

  4. Under Number Assigned, type the number you want to start with and the interval between numbers, and then click OK.

Note: In a multi-page diagram, you have to add numbers to shapes on each page separately. To display a drawing page, click a tab at the bottom left of the drawing window.

To add numbers as you create a flowchart

  1. On the File menu, point to New, then to Flowchart, and then click the type of flowchart you want to create.

  2. On the Tools menu, click Number Shapes.

  3. Under Number Assigned, type the number you want to start numbering with and the interval between numbers.

    On the General tab, under Operation, click

    • Auto Number, to automatically number shapes from left to right and then top to bottom on the drawing page.

    • Manually By Clicking, to control the sequence in which shapes are numbered by manually clicking the shapes in the order you want.

  4. Select the Continue Numbering Shapes As Dropped On Page check box, and then click OK.

  5. When you have finished adding numbers, on the Tools menu, click Number Shapes. Clear the Continue Numbering Shapes As Dropped On Page check box, and then click OK.

Tip To change the sequence in which shapes are automatically numbered, click the Advanced tab in the Number Shapes dialog box.

Tips: Working with Large Flowcharts

Because many processes are long and complex, flowcharts often extend beyond the boundaries of a letter-sized printed page. There are several ways you can handle large flowcharts so they are easy to work with and distribute.

Ways to Handle Large Flowcharts

Method

Description

Drill-down approach

Create a high-level flowchart on one page. From each high-level step in this flowchart, "drilldown" to a more detailed flowchart on a new page.

Off-page references

Draw as much of your flowchart as you can on one page. Then, use an off-page reference to create a jump to the page on which the flowchart continues.

On-page references

Draw as much of your flowchart as you can moving down or across the page. Then, use an on-page reference to indicate that the flowchart continues at the top or left of the page.

Change drawing page size

Change the size of the drawing page to contain the flowchart you are creating. When you print the flowchart, it may tile across several letter-sized printed pages.

Change flowchart size

You can scale a flowchart so that it fits on a letter-sized printed page.

Drill-down approach

To create a drill-down flowchart

  1. On the File menu, point to New, then to Flowchart, and then click the type of flowchart you want to create.

  2. Create a high-level flowchart by dropping shapes onto the drawing page.

  3. On the Insert menu, click Page. Type a name for the new page if you want, and then click OK.

  4. Click the page tab to return to the high-level flowchart page.

  5. On the shape that represents a process step you want to define in detail on the new drawing page, create a navigational link that jumps to the new drawing page.

  6. Repeat steps 3-5 for each high-level process step you want to drill-down on.

  7. Drop shapes onto the new drawing pages to create the flowcharts you want to drill down to.

Off-page references

To create a flowchart using off-page references

  1. On the File menu, point to New, then to Flowchart, and then click the type of flowchart you want to create.

  2. Create a flowchart by dropping shapes onto the drawing page. Keep adding shapes until you come close to the bottom or right edge of the drawing page.

  3. Drag the Off-Page Reference shapepictur18 onto the page and position it near the edge, as the last shape.

  4. Click OK to add the Off-Page Reference shape to the current page, and to create a new drawing page that has its own Off-Page Reference shape.

  5. With the Off-Page Reference shape on the new drawing page selected, click the connector tool pictur12 on the Standard toolbar.

    pictur19

    If you don't see the connector tool, click the arrow next to the connection point tool or the stamp tool.

  6. Continue adding flowchart shapes until your flowchart is complete or you reach the end of the new drawing page.

  7. If necessary, repeat steps 3-6 to add another off-page reference.

To navigate between pages using off-page references

  • Double-click an Off-Page Reference shape to navigate to the page the shape references.

On-page references

To create a flowchart using on-page references

  1. On the File menu, point to New, then to Flowchart, and then click the type of flowchart you want to create.

  2. Create a flowchart by dropping shapes onto the drawing page. Keep adding shapes until you come close to the lower or right edge of the drawing page.

  3. Drag the On-Page Reference shapepictur20 onto the page and position it near the edge, as the last shape.

  4. With the shape selected, type an identifying label, such as a number or letter.

  5. On the Edit menu, click Duplicate, and then drag the duplicate shape to the top or left of the drawing page.

  6. With the On-Page Reference shape on the new drawing page selected, click the connector tool pictur12 on the Standard toolbar.

    pictur21

    Use the connector tool to add lines between shapes as you drop them.

  7. Continue adding flowchart shapes until your flowchart is complete or you reach the end of the page.

  8. If necessary, repeat steps 3-7 to add another on-page reference.

Change drawing page size

To change drawing page size

  1. With the flowchart open, on the File menu, click Page Setup.

  2. Click the Page Size tab.

  3. Under Page Size, click Size To Fit Drawing Contents, and then click OK.

Tip You can preview page breaks and change them before you print.

Change flowchart size

To change flowchart size

  1. With the flowchart open, on the File menu, click Page Setup.

  2. Click the Drawing Scale tab. Under Drawing Scale, click Custom Scale.

  3. Type the appropriate scale units. For example, if the flowchart is larger than the drawing page, change the scale so that .75 units on the page are equal to 1 unit in the real world.

  4. Click OK.

Tip Text doesn't scale with shapes. If your flowchart shapes contain text that looks too large after you scale, press Ctrl+A to select all the shapes, and then choose a smaller font size from the Font Size list on the Format toolbar.

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