Demo: I can see clearly now: Business processes in Visio

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Need a clearer understanding of an important process in your business? With Microsoft Office Visio 2003 you can take a fresh look at your business process in a way that helps make sense of it all.

By visually mapping your process steps and relationships in as much detail as you need, you and your team can zero in on what's working and what's not. Using a Visio flowchart, you can more easily see where important steps might be missing, and recognize ways to make every step of the process more efficient.

 Note   For screen reader text detailing the onscreen actions and a screen reader version of the audio script, click Demo text version.

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Screen Action Audio Script
Visio 2003 is open with the Choose Drawing Type window open and the Block Diagram category folder open. The pointer moves down the Category list and clicks the Business Process folder to open it. The pointer pauses over the Audit Diagram, Cause and Effect Diagram, Cross Functional Flowchart, and Basic Flowchart templates in the Template area, and a description of each template appears below the Category list. The pointer clicks the Basic Flowchart template.

I own a mail order business. Recently, we received some complaints about incomplete orders. I've decided to document the process we use in our warehouse to see if we can find a way to improve our order processing.

I heard that Visio 2003 includes shapes and templates for business process diagrams. I'm going to start with a basic flowchart.

The scene changes to show a drawing named Business Process open to the Order tasks page, which has several process shapes: Receive Sale orders, Order Inventory, Fill orders, Invoice, and Stock shelves.

The pointer clicks the Process master shape in the Basic Flowchart Shapes stencil in the Shapes window, and drags it to the drawing. Guidelines appear on the drawing and shape is placed in alignment with other shapes on the drawing. The pointer clicks the new shape, types Ship orders, and then clicks a blank spot on the drawing to clear the shape selection.

First, I met with our warehouse crew to figure out all of the major tasks required for processing orders. Then I created this Visio document to record all of the tasks in a flowchart.
The scene changes to show the same drawing with connectors with arrowheads added to show the relationship between the shapes. The connection lines cross over each other. I connected the different tasks to show how they relate to each other. But the process isn't quite clear to me yet.

The scene changes to show the Lay Out Shapes dialog box. The pointer clicks the arrow in the Style drop-down list under Connectors, clicks Right Angle, and then clicks OK.

The shapes in the flowchart are automatically reorganized to show the shapes in two rows: Order Inventory and Stock shelves in the first row, and Receive Sale orders, Fill orders, Invoice, and Ship orders in the second row. The shapes in each row are connected by a line with an arrow pointing to the next shape to the right.

The pointer selects the Ship order shape and drags it from the far right side of the page to the start a new row underneath the Receive Sale orders shape in the second row. The connector from the Invoice shape is redrawn to stay connected to the shape.

The auto-layout feature in Visio helps me to untangle the connections between the tasks. Now I can see the relationships between the tasks clearly.

I notice that we actually have two separate processes.

The pointer clicks the Stock shelves shape in the first row and drags it to the right; guidelines appear to help place the shape in alignment above the Invoice shape in the second row. The connector from the Order inventory shape is redrawn to stay connected to the shape.

The pointer drags the Decision master shape from the Basic Flowcharts Shapes stencil onto the drawing page. Guidelines appear to indicate where the shape should be placed between the Order inventory and Stock shelves shapes in the first row, and in alignment above the Fill orders shape in the second row. The connectors are automatically redrawn to show a connection between the Order Inventory shape and the new shape, and between the new shape and the Stock shelves shape.

The pointer clicks the new decision shape on the drawing, and types Stock or ship. New connection shapes appear between the Stock or ship shape and the Fill orders shape, and also between the Stock shelves shape and the Fill orders shape.

Our warehouse manager sees we're missing a step between ordering inventory and stocking the shelves. So, I've added a shape to the flowchart to show how ordering inventory relates to stocking shelves and filling orders.

The pointer drags the Decision master shape from the Basic Flowcharts Shapes stencil onto the drawing page. Guidelines appear to indicate where the shape should be placed in the third row of the drawing, between the Invoice and Ship orders shapes and aligned beneath the Fill orders shape.

The pointer clicks the new decision shape, and types Verify order. The pointer draws a connection shape between the Verify order and Fill orders shapes.

Now that I clearly see our current process for handling orders, I realize a vital step is missing.

We could prevent incomplete orders by verifying the orders before they ship.

Documenting and visualizing our process in Visio helped me to find the answer I'd been looking for.

Visio disappears. The animated text Experience Your Own Great Moments appears. Under it appears the static text For more information followed by a URL: http://www.microsoft.com/office. Find out how Visio 2003 can help you visualize your business processes too.

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Applies to:
Visio 2003