By Elizabeth Spain at October 27 2018 22:19:03
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.
All process instances are executed in a very similar way and it is easy to draw a flowchart detailing the sequence in which tasks are executed. It is also possible to formalize the business rules that guide decisions, normally based on the evaluation of some process variables. But recently other kinds of processes have caught the attention of process management specialists. They are known as knowledge processes, or knowledge-based processes. Knowledge processes can be defined as "high added value processes in which the achievement of goals is highly dependent on the skills, knowledge and experience of the people carrying them out". Some examples could be management, R&D, or new product development processes.
Multiple inputs to the process exist : Some of them would be competition, lifecycle stage of the market, brand image, budget, etc... ; Complex decisions are made : There are many possible ways to achieve the process objectives (reach planned sales, leverage brand image, etc...) ; Each decision implies different levels of risk and potential benefits : It is the responsibility of the worker to choose the best one (low price strategy, aggressive advertising campaign, etc...) ; There are three main characteristics that make knowledge processes different from highly structured processes: Focus is on communication instead of automation.
For a technical writer a flowchart can be a very useful tool to illustrate various operations and processes. Before you start your next project, see if you can illustrate the process via a flowchart. It will make life easier for you and your manager or client. The end result will be a better project which is good for your target audience. Note: Microsoft Visio is a good software for creating flowcharts. If you can write a simple sentence in English and organize your thoughts then technical writing may be a rewarding field. You can easily make it a second income stream in your spare time.