Workflow diagrams, or better known on the PMP exam as flowcharts, provide visual representations of project processes. Workflow diagrams or flowcharts are a type of tool and technique used by a project manager. The workflow diagram is a part of the seven basic quality tools used within the quality management knowledge area in the planning process group of project management.
Did all this discussion on tools and techniques, knowledge areas, and process groups confuse you? If you said yes, please take some time and review the PMP Process Chart.
One important fact about PMP prep, which I will continually stress in my posts, is you have to be able to associate PMP concepts – like workflow diagrams – with the 47 processes, 10 knowledge areas, and 5 process groups. The process chart is the foundation of all things PMP, if you are able to understand how concepts relate to each other, I promise you will be in better shape for the exam.
Let’s spend some time defining workflow diagrams and explain how this concept is used for quality management.
PMP Concepts: Workflow Diagram: Definition
A workflow diagram is a visual breakdown of the activities, in sequential order, needed to complete a particular output, or deliverable. Workflow diagrams can contain items like tasks, key decisions points, sequential relationships of tasks, parallel process steps, and more about the overall relationship of tasks it takes to turn an input into an output. Or better said an idea into a deliverable.
Here is a very basic example of a workflow diagram (again you will note that the diagram is referred to as a flowchart, because this is a more common expression for the visual in the PMP world). This example shows there the different items you can represent on the diagram, by using different shapes and connecting arrows, like we just discussed.
Although the example is simplistic it gives you an idea of what a workflow diagram is. You clearly see where the process starts and finishes, with all the steps in between. Including some areas where you might have to revisit a step if a latter step does not meet requirements.
PMP Concept: Workflow Diagram: How to Use
A workflow diagram will help you most in the quality management area of your project management plan. Understanding the steps it takes to complete a task can help you ensure that that the process is as efficient as possible with no redundancies.
The outputs of a complete workflow diagram are an accurate quality management plan (because you used more of the seven tools of quality management), a process improvement plan, key quality metrics, and quality checklists.
If you do not understand the process it takes to complete a deliverable you cannot know when you should check for quality! As always, taking time to plan and work with the project team to understand each step in a process will allow you to better control quality and ensure the best deliverable.
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