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Gap Analysis Flow Chart - Creating a Visual Representation of Your Data

written by: Ronda Bowen • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 7/22/2013

Sometimes it's not enough to perform a gap analysis - you also have to create a gap analysis flow chart to help visualize your findings easily or communicate information to an audience. Learn how to create this sort of visual in this helpful Bright Hub PM article.

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    Look Into Your Company and Evaluate It

    When you perform a gap analysis for your company, what you are really doing is looking under the hood to evaluate the health of your processes, services, and products. Undertaking a gap analysis means that you are investigating to see whether or not a series of strategic objectives are being met adequately, barely met, or not met at all. You will also come up with a plan of action to undertake to correct deficient areas. While there are a variety of gap analysis methods, one great tool is the gap analysis flow chart. The gap analysis flow chart allows you to see a graphical representation of the items it contains.

    You can download this chart to start listing your companies objectives, current deficits, and actions plans.

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    Gathering Data

    Before you can put together your gap analysis flow chart, you will first need to collect the data necessary to put together a visually stimulating flow chart. Flow charts are best at tracking processes, so in assembling your data, you will want to observe the various processes invloved in your gap analysis. Make notes on each process - when you make notes, if you wish, you can record each step as a flow chart.

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    Become Familiar With Common Symbols

    Flow Chart Symbols 1-16 When you're working with flowcharts, there is a predefined set of symbols to use. It is important to understand what the symbols mean. If you're using Microsoft Word to create your flowchart, when you mouse over each symbol, it will let you know what it's for. For your convenience, here is a key to the various symbols you might use in creating your gap analysis flow chart. Refer to the images for each number. (Click the image for a larger view.)

    1. Process - Symbolizes a work operation or action step.
    2. Alternate process - Symbolizes a possible option to the normal process step (in performing a gap analysis, this could be a benchmark).
    3. Decision - Symbolizes either a question or a branch in the process.
    4. Delay - Symbolizes waiting time in a process.
    5. Pre-defined process - Symbolizes a sub-process that has been formally defined.
    6. Data - This indicates inputs and outputs (data) that go to and come from a process.
    7. Document - Symbolizes the production of a document or report.
    8. Multi-Documents - Symbolizes the production of multiple documents.
    9. Terminator - A point where the process starts or stops.
    10. Preparation - A point where preparation or set-up occurs for a process.
    11. Manual Input - This is a point in the process where manual imput is required for a system.
    12. Manual Operation - This is a point in the process that is not automated.
    13. Connector - This is where the process hops from one step to a different step.
    14. Off-Page Connector - This shows that the flow chart continues onto another page.
    15. Card - symbolizes an old computer punch card
    16. Punched Tape - Symbolizes an old computer punched tape input method
    17. Flow Chart Symbols Numbers 17-30 Or - Symbolizes the logical function "or."
    18. Summing Junction - Symbolizes the logical function "and."
    19. Collate - Symbolizes the organization of data into a standard formatting.
    20. Sort - Symbolizes data being sorted into a pre-determined order.
    21. Merge - Multiple processes merge into one - or - raw materials are stored.
    22. Extract - Splits processes from one into multiple - or measures finished goods.
    23. Stored Data - Symbolizes the data storage for a process.
    24. Sequential Access Storage - Symbolizes old-time tape reels.
    25. Magnetic Disk - Symbolizes a database.
    26. Direct Access Storage - Symbolizes hard drive storage.
    27. Display - Symbolizes the display on a machine.
    28. Call out - Used to input comments on a flow chart.
    29. Internal Storage - Used for storing data in memory.
    30. Flow line - Used to indicate the direction materials and information flows.
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    Putting it All Together

    Finally, now that you have a basic understanding of the different symbols involved with creating a flow chart, you can put together your gap analysis flow chart with the data you have collected. Consider creating a chart for how things are and a chart for how things should be. For this you would use the process symbol--the first one in Word's Shapes gallery. Alternatively, using the alternate process symbol, you could group both of these sets of data in one place. Take a look at the various symbols for ideas on how to proceed.

    Add color in your gap analysis flow chart to make the presentation more appealing. By taking the time to create a graphical representation of your gap analysis, you can help others to understand exaclty where your company stands in relationship to where you would like your company to be.