The classic and simplest way to represent any process visually is through the means of creating a flowchart. Simply put, a flowchart is a visual representation of a process, which maps out the different actions, decision-making steps, results and consequences through different geometric shapes and arrows. This allows any reader to easily visualize the process, the key turning points, and the different outcomes without having to bug you incessantly for information. Creating flowcharts was once done manually, but the constant improvements in technology allow us to create flowcharts that can be printed, or uploaded online for public consumption. While a lot of people may find the task daunting, you need not worry. There are a plethora of programs, such as Excel, which allow even Mac users to easily create flowcharts for their own purposes. Here’s a short guide on how to create a flowchart on a Mac.
- It will be best for you to start by sketching a rough draft on a piece of paper. Not only will this first step allow you to review any possible mistakes or errors in the visual representation of the process, it also gives you an opportunity to clear your head and get a good grasp of what exactly you want the process to be. Having a hard copy also allows you a reference you can check back anytime, which will be especially useful for multi-stage processes which may become confusing if constructed entirely on the computer. Try to make it as simple and elegant as possible on paper before transferring it to a computer.
- Most Macs already have MS Office bundled with them, so the most convenient program to use is still MS Excel. Start by creating a new spreadsheet. You will also need to have the Drawing toolbar available, so go the “View” menu, select “Toolbars” and make sure the Drawing icon is selected to bring the Drawing toolbar onscreen.
- Activate the flyout menu for different shapes by clicking and holding your mouse over the “Insert Shapes” button on the Drawing toolbar. After selecting the appropriate “Flowchart” Icon, you should make sure that you click the double bars found at the upper part of the menu to keep the Flowchart tools afloat outside of the toolbar, thus giving you quicker and more convenient access to the different shapes you will need. Just drag and drop this menu to a location of your preference onscreen.
- Your flowchart will have a start and stop, so you will need the Terminator object in the Flowchart tools. Clicking on the text tool (which looks similar to a capital A) will allow you to provide labels for the different steps in the flowchart. Be sure you are familiar with different representations for different steps, the decision-making process, etc. After placing the different steps, you can use the line tool to select arrows that will represent the flow of the process. Connect the different shapes/steps and constantly review the flowchart if it makes sense.
You can easily adjust the different parts of the flowchart, such as size, shape, color, by editing them as needed. However, remember that a flowchart should provide the simplest and most elegant representation of any process. Don’t make it too overcrowded and too full of information. Always remember to refer to your hard copy and try to make it as understandable as possible.