A process diagram should be so good that you can hand it to someone who has never seen one before, and they will totally understand what it’s about without asking questions.
That’s the gold standard for process diagrams and flowcharts.
I’ve seen some AMAZING diagrams by elite BAs (you know who you are!) but they can still confuse the audience/reader.
KISS is my mantra.
Keep It Super Simple.
Top 5 ways to KISS on my process diagrams which I’ve learned over the years:
1. Always have a descriptive heading.
2. Labels and legends!!
3. You really only need 3 shapes – rounded rectangles (Start/End), rectangles for process activities and diamonds for decisions. And maybe little circles for off/on page connectors.
4. Process rectangles should contain verbs (e.g. Assign lead, Approve holiday request, Send confirmation email)
5. Process rectangles can have many incoming arrows, but should ONLY have ONE outgoing arrow.
6. If you need more than one outgoing arrow, use a decision diamond.
7. Outgoing arrows from your decision diamond should ALWAYS be labelled.
8. Use swimlanes to denote functional separation between roles (e.g. Sales and Marketing)
9. Use swimlanes if you want to denote separation of systems (e.g. Salesforce and Commerce Cloud)
10. Try not to show functional and system separation in one process map. It can get messy.
When I can hand my process diagram to someone not on my project and they can understand what I’m trying to convey, I’ve done a good job.
They say that Pictures say a thousand words.
Make sure they’re the right words, else you might end up in a legal dispute when it comes down to the wire 😕