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Flow Process Chart

Flow Process Chart

A Flow Process Chat is a symbolic representation that illustrates the sequence of activities within a process. It is used to record and analyze the activities that make up a process to determine which add value and which do not. Activities can be any operation, inspection, storage, transportation, and delay actions that are carried out by an individual person, a team, a machine, a computer system, or a combinations of all.

Flow process charts are preferred over other process mapping techniques when the process is sequential in nature and contains few decision points. For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as ‘process sequence chart’. A useful feature of this technique is that it can be drawn up as the process is happening, thus providing an accurate description of the process. Later on and when analyzing the process, some steps become obvious candidates for improvement, such non-value-added activities, long delays and excessive transportation.

There are three common types of flow process charts based on what is being charted. A man-type chart shows the activities of a person or group of people, a material-type chart shows what happens to a product or item as it moves, and an equipment-type chart shows the activities from the viewpoint of the machine or equipment involved.

Activities are often recorded along a vertical or horizontal line using common symbols and descriptive words. These symbols have been accepted by many Lean practitioners and organizations. Other symbols can be used based on the situation. The following is a brief explanation of each of the five categories, along with examples for each of them:

Flow Process Chart

The typical approach is to chart the present method first, then the improvement will be proposed on a second chart. When charting for the future, each process activity is subject to elimination, combination and sequence changing. Improvements can also be achieved by reducing the number of activities, reducing the time each activity takes, or reducing the distance of travel for the transport activities. All these improvements on the process will help in the cost reduction effort and justify any improvement proposal.


The following example illustrates a flow process chart prepared for an egg tray production line, which is a material-type flow process chart. Note that the time it takes to perform each activity can be written under the activity symbol.

Process Chart

Process Chart

A process chart presents the process activities and the related information in the form of a table. It allows providing further information about each process activity such as error rates, time and distance. These information can help later in estimating key performance metrics, including:

  • The total time to perform the process.
  • Value-added time and non-value added time.
  • The percentage of the value-added activities to the total activities.
  • The distance travelled.


The following example shows a flow process chart and a process chart for processing an invoice after received by the supplier. The process begins after receiving the invoice and ends with paying the supplier.

The following table is the process chart summary, which is useful to estimate key performance metrics.

There are many tools that can help you to chart your process. One of the simplest ways is to use this process chart template.

Further Information

Flow process charts are sometimes drawn up in conjunction with other tools such as flow diagrams and opportunity maps.

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