A common question asked throughout the use of information systems is that of the difference between Flowcharts and Data Flow Diagrams.
A flowchart is a tool for analyzing processes, programs or systems. It can be said that it represents a process. It shows the steps as boxes of various kinds and then gives them their order by connecting the boxes with arrows. Flowcharts are implied by the sequencing of operations. Flowcharts are used by documenting, analyzing and managing processes in various fields.
Flow charts consist of many different symbols to represent the data being portrayed. Some examples include a terminal, flowline and a document. A terminal is oval in shape and denotes the beginning or end of the flow chart. A flowline is an arrow shape that indicates the logical flow of control in a flow chart. A document denotes a hard copy of a document. These different shapes help to show what is happening in a Flow chart.
A data flow diagram is similar to a flowchart yet they are not the same. A DFD is a graphical representation of the flow of data in an information system. It can be defined as a form of process modelling and is made up of four different areas: Processes, External Entities, Data Flows and Data Stores.
DFD’s provide a pictorial non technical representation of the information given. They are easy to produce and quick to understand.