Tutorial for Process Flows 001 – Decision /IssueTrees
Using Decision Trees
The variations of processes are unlimited: decision trees, selection paths, etc. The primary goal of a process flow is to take the audience through the steps to achieve a goal, make a decision, or complete a task. What so many process flows fail to do is deliver the subliminal messages that are so important. These messages are achieved in consistency and alignment. When using a process flow, it is generally preferred that every box/field on a certain level be the same size, implying equal importance. Resist the urge to make one larger to accommodate a longer title, etc. If you must enlarge one, enlarge them all on that level. Also, it is important to maintain consistence from page to page. This type of attention to detail help convey the correct message and also elevates the messages within the document/presentation to a higher level.
This framework gives you the option of approaching your work from a different angle: from the right-hand side to the left (which is generally the opposite way most flows are developed). We'll explore the best ways to work with the frameworks below.
Working outside the automatic diagramming/org chart tool in PowerPoint will allow for animation and greater levels of formatting. Connect the boxes on top in PowerPoint by using the "Connectors" in the AutoShapes menu. That way the connection is established even if you need to readjust the spacing, etc.
Once you have identified the best-suited PowerFramework, download it to a specific location on your computer so you'll be able to find it (the desktop is always a good choice).
Customizing the Process Flow
Bring all the frameworks from the series in that you will need to develop your process flow. The example below is compiled from three different frameworks. Once you have all imported, select all and size. That way the columns will be perfectly sized when you begin mixing and matching. Hold the shift key down if you want to scale it while you are sizing. Ungroup once you have the desired size so you can eliminate the unneeded columns. Group the remaining columns and align by distributing on the middle.
Connections and alignments
Use connectors in PowerPoint. This feature is really important to use, as it will save time and frustration. The connectors are available in the AutoShapes menu. The connectors used in the example below are the first option on the middle row within the connector menu. This is how your framework will look after this step.
Now you can begin spacing. Look at the example below. Begin your alignments from the right. The right-most column stays as is. The boxes in the next column to the right get centered on their associated boxes. Then do the same process until you get to the last left-hand column. You're spaced and ready to go.
Select color from your document's color palette or a complimentary color so that the PowerFramework will reflect the color scheme of the rest of your document. Select "No line" if you want to eliminate the outline of the object, or change the line point size if you want thinner lines.
Unless this is a very simple process flow, it's best to stay away from 3D. Elements of the 3D tend to obscure the connecting lines.
Unless your process flow is very simple, avoid using shadows. Shadows tend to close the gaps between the boxes and obscure the relationships.
Gradients, patterns, and pictures
Since you are working with very small boxes and text in many cases, avoid any format that is confusing or obscures the text. Gradients and patterns behind text (especially small text) tends to diminish the readability of the message.
Animate individual boxes and lines or groups as appropriate. Use simple reveals or wipes.