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Friday, July 6, 2012

Process Flow Charts

In the previous chapter, we learned about the first diagramming technique that we can use in risk identification which was “Cause & Effect Diagrams”. In this chapter, we are going to look at the second diagramming technique that will be very useful in risk identification. It is called “System or Process flowcharts”

Just like the Cause & Effect diagram, the process flow chart too is part of the “7 basic tools of quality” that are covered in the “Perform Quality Control” chapter of the PMBOK. We had covered that process in the chapter on Controlling Quality in our PMP exam prep series. You can Click Here to visit that chapter.

A flow chart is a graphical representation of a process from the beginning to the end including order of processing, decision points etc. it shows us how the various items in a system are interrelated. Using this information we can analyze as to how a problem may have occurred. Once again, we are going in search of the problem causes as a way of resolving them along with preventing any such issues in future. The Risk Management team will take this flowchart and analyze it find out where a risk may occur and based on that information we try to figure out the root cause. Another important use of these flowcharts is that, they can also help us in identifying potential responses.

Let us look at a real life example as to how a process flow chart can help us nail a risk and its cause. Let’s say you are going to paint your house and the last two times you did, the paint started peeling off within months and by the end of 2 years it looked as though there was literally no paint on the wall. So, if you want to paint your walls again there is an imminent risk that the paint is going to peel off again. Isn’t it?

Let’s create a flowchart of the whole painting process. By analyzing the flowchart, we can pin-point two problem areas that might result in our risk which are highlighted by the red ovals around them.

As you can see, this paint peeling off can happen if we did not clean the painted surfaces properly or if we did not scrape off all the old paint. After we identify the cause we can even create a potential response that says that we must clean the paint surface and scrape off all old paint before beginning the paint-job.

Can you understand how useful this flowchart analysis can be now?

Prev: Cause & Effect Diagrams

Next: Influence Diagrams

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