By Sophie Dulhunty at November 27 2018 18:02:11
Flowcharts can be very useful for a technical writer. If you're working on a complex process, a flowchart can show you the various steps involved in that process. For example, you could be working on a manual on how to troubleshoot the Autopilot Flight Director system for the Boeing 747 aircraft. There are various steps involved in troubleshooting this system. Each step has multiple sub-steps. By creating a flowchart, you can quickly see which step takes place at what stage in the process.
They are more difficult to implement through discipline than administrative human-centric processes (although some discipline is needed). It is better to focus on obtaining buy-in from the people affected by the processes through early involvement, communication and expectations management. It is a known fact that knowledge workers are reluctant to change their habits. Some say knowledge workers don't like following procedures because they feel it limits their creativity; but most of the time they will be happy to follow a procedure as long as they see value in it, perceiving that it helps them work better and produce a better process output.
Knowledge workers carry out these processes by taking into account multiple inputs (generally a wide set of unstructured data and information) to perform difficult tasks and make complex decisions among multiple possible ways of doing the work, each one implying different levels of risk and possible benefits. They are dependent on individuals and it is not possible to automate them. One example of a knowledge process is "Marketing a new product". The same steps are followed each time a new product is launched (benchmarking competitors, deciding pricing strategy, planning promotion, etc...), but it is the experience, knowledge and intuition of the people that drive the process to success.
The key to process improvement is to clearly communicate process definitions (the way in which the company wants the processes to be carried out) to the people in charge of their execution (through training, process descriptions publication, etc...). The better process participants understand the process definition, the higher the probability that the process is carried out according to it. They are better implemented through obtaining buy-in than through imposing directives.