What are Cross Functional Flowcharts?
A basic flowchart shows how micro processes are sequentially linked together in an operation. They are basically one dimensional, just showing the processes without going into much detail about the attributes of the particular process. This is where cross functional flowcharts come in. By expanding the limitations of the conventional flowcharts to a multidimensional range, cross functional flowcharts can increase the depth of detail. This allows the reader to not only examine the processes, but also the attributes related to the specific processes, along with the categories they belong to.
There are several types of cross functional flowcharts, such as the matrix, deployment and opportunity flowchart. Let us have a look at a few examples that show how cross functional flowcharts can aid in defining a process.
Deployment flowcharts basically outline the individual processes and subdivide them into various groups as the process flows sequentially. The very first deployment flowcharts were used to describe assembly lines processes, such as the manufacture of a car. These are the most commonly used cross functional flowchart type.
By classifying these processes, it is easier to examine the various ownership attributes of these processes, along with recognizing the correct classification. This helps to identify key elements in the process and makes it easier to check for errors, if any.
The second most common type of flowcharts used in business analysis is the Opportunity flowcharts, which differentiate between Value added and non-value added services. This helps companies reduce overhead and unnecessary costs, by cutting out non-essential services that might bring loss to the company and increase in production costs.
For example, a company might need to reach a particular level of quality assurance in order to put their product on the market. However, they might go the extra mile and try to improve upon the quality of the product even further than the minimal requirement. This would be classified as a value added service, and can be cut if the company runs into loss.
However, we need to keep in mind that most opportunity flowcharts are looked at from a customer’s perspective, classifying value added and non value added processes accordingly.
As compared to the former two types of flowcharts, Matrix flowcharts are relatively much more complex to construct and read, as they involve more than two attributes being assigned to a process.
An example of a matrix flowchart is given above. As you can see, there are multiple attributes assigned to a single process, and the processes are subdivided into more than one classification. While matrix flowcharts do help in increasing detail, they have certain disadvantages to them, which is why they are not as popular. For one, they are much more complex and harder to read, and these multiple attributes can easily be replaced by color coding the processes and labeling them. Two, they take up more space, due to the inclusion of minute sub-processes.
However, for describing complex processes which involve multiple attributes and stakeholders being assigned to a single process, matrix flowcharts do their job fairly well.
These are the three most common types of cross functional flowcharts. Notice that all of them have one thing in common; they are multidimensional. This is what differentiates cross functional flowcharts from classic flowcharts, and makes them useful in describing a multitude of processes.