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Improving process design and follow-through by using flowcharts

Frank Ruelas Jr. (frank@compliacademy.com) is Compliance Consultant at CompliAcademy, Casa Grande, AZ.

For many compliance professionals, designing, implementing, and modifying processes is an ongoing challenge. It can be exacerbated by the ongoing development of complex requirements by third parties the organization deals with, such as regulatory bodies, accrediting organizations, and other entities. In addition, the organization may also define requirements that it has adopted in its efforts to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse. A flowchart is a very effective tool that compliance professionals can use to help in designing these processes.

Given its visual nature, a well-designed flowchart can break down processes into easy-to-follow steps. Through its use of decision points, a flowchart can increase the likelihood that a process is followed consistently by illustrating what steps to follow based on the answers to questions, which are used to define a flowchart’s logical flow.[1]

It is important to keep in mind that a tool’s effectiveness is often a function of the skill or expertise of the person using it. The good news is that flowcharts are relatively easy to put together—with some basic education, most people can put together a very well designed and effective flowchart. Here are some important considerations for designing a flowchart that can promote a higher level of process consistency and effectiveness.

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