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What is a Structure Chart?

By Troy Holmes
Updated May 16, 2024
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There are many techniques for effectively communicating organizational ideas within the business environment. A structure chart is a graphical chart used for the purpose of describing and communicating a model or process within an organization. This chart typically consists of shapes with descriptions and connecting lines that show relationships to other shapes within the chart.

Project managers rely on structure charts for managing their daily activities. The most widely used structure chart for project management is the work breakdown structure chart. This is a graphical chart that consists of milestones and timelines. These timelines show the tasks that must be completed to successfully finish a project.

Functional modeling is a system engineering technique that requires the graphical design and presentation of complex business models. This visualization design approach provides an elegant method for describing information to a non-technical audience. The functional model decomposes the detail interfaces of a software application into clearly defined components.

An organization chart is well known example of a structure chart that is used within most business operations. This chart is a graphical representation of the employees in an organization. It is typically displayed in a hierarchical manner with the senior executive represented at the top of the chart.

The study of organizational behavior is the art of describing how individuals and groups within an organization interact with other teams or departments. This collaboration and communication paradigm is typically referred to as group dynamics. A structure chart is used within organizational theory to describe individual groups and their interactions with other groups of an organization.

Structured analysis and design is an approach for managing the development process of applications within software engineering. This design pattern is based on a waterfall systems development method. The waterfall systems design approach includes specific structure charts for each phase of the development process including requirements, design, coding, and testing.

A data model is a structure chart used within structured analysis. This structure chart describes the relationships of data within a database. The data model defines the business rules and cardinality of data for an application. This chart describes how the user of a system will interact with the data.

The art of systems architecture requires effective communication at multiple technical levels within an organization. The system architect leverages visualization artifacts to describe events within an enterprise. This graphical representation of ideas creates a better overall understanding of how system components will interact with other interfaces throughout the enterprise.

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Discussion Comments
By Charred — On May 14, 2011

@David09 - The original flow chart that you’re referring to is more appropriate for sequential programming. Computer science has not dispensed with the flowchart it’s just been taken to a new level.

Nowadays we use what are called case diagrams that target object oriented programming. These diagrams display classes, objects, methods and how they all relate to each other. This is still in use in iterative programming. It’s not expected that programmers would just do this kind of thing in their heads.

By David09 — On May 11, 2011

When I began computer programming we were taught to use structure charts to model the process of decision flow in the sequence of the program.

This resembled a typical flow chart with its decision points and conditional branches. When I entered the real world of computer programming I discovered that the majority of programmers didn’t use formal flowcharts to organize program logic. They more or less did it in their heads, although in fact I think they had internalized the process and so it became second nature. Still, I believe the flow chart is a useful tool for introductory courses in computer science.

By EconLove — On May 10, 2011

Organizational structure charts obviously seem like a great idea to use to explain things to people outside of a certain field, but the examples of the corporate structure chart or the department structure chart bring to mind the fact that many companies have people from all sorts of backgrounds and experiences on their payroll, and they have to accommodate for this when they plan. I think these charts are a great way for companies to get everyone on the same page.

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