Turtle diagram: What is it

Have you ever heard of the Turtle Diagram? Read and learn more about this tool that assists companies in process management.

Every company is full of processes and for its activities to flow effectively, it is necessary to understand the interrelationship between them, identifying possible gaps in the internal structure. There are several tools that assist in process management, such as the Turtle Diagram.

Although its use is easy and extremely important, there are still few organizations that choose to use it. The following text describes more information about the diagram and includes some of the numerous benefits that its use can bring.

What is a Turtle Diagram?

The Turtle Diagram is a visual tool that can be used to describe all elements of any process within an organization in a very precise and detailed way. It should bring all aspects including inputs, outputs, and criteria metrics among other information that may be relevant and assist in improving organizational processes.

The diagram identifies who owns the process and demonstrates their roles and responsibilities. It can also be used to identify all applicable clauses of the relevant standards and detail legal requirements applicable to that process.

Is the turtle diagram required in ISO 9001:2015?

ISO 9001 promotes the adoption of the process approach in the development, implementation and improvement of the effectiveness of a quality management system to increase customer satisfaction.  Item 4.4.1 of the standard states that:

The organization must determine the processes necessary for the quality management system and its application in the organization and must:

a) determine the required inputs and expected outputs from these processes;

b) determine the sequence and interaction of these processes;

Therefore, the diagram is not required in the standard, but it assists in the administration and management of processes. By using it, it is possible to meet the requirements mentioned above, determining and managing several linked processes.

Understanding and managing processes that are related as a system helps the organization achieve effectiveness and efficiency in the intended outcomes. So that the overall performance of the organization can be high, the per-process approach allows organizations to control the interrelationships and interdependence between system processes.

What are the benefits of using the turtle diagram?

The Turtle Diagram can be used in conjunction with Flowcharts, Work Instructions or Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), correlating the information in a simple and easy-to-read diagram. There are many benefits in using this diagram, and I describe some of them below.

  1. Easy-to-understand document

Turtle diagrams are perfect for sharing with new employees during onboarding, so they understand the position of their role within the organization as well as the added value that their tasks will bring to the company.

  1. Easy tool for use in audits

It can be an individual audit of a process or the evaluation of its interaction with other processes within the company, when diagrams are used with supporting documents such as IT’s or SOPs, it is simple to perform an audit trail in the organization. It is possible to quickly and easily identify areas that need improvement or areas and need to be better related and interacted with other processes. Turtle diagrams can facilitate auditors and organizations themselves in internal and external audits, guiding them in different ways as to which people and documents need to be audited in each process.

  1. Alignment of organization goals linked to processes

Through the use of the turtle diagram, it is possible to align the performance of the processes to the organization’s objectives and applicable policies. It helps understand how process performance can assist in achieving certain organizational goals, such as customer satisfaction, and how these goals link to the organization’s business plan and policies.

  1. Easy identification of process waste

The value-added steps in a process and the efficiency and effectiveness measures of each of the steps should be the focus of a turtle diagram. Therefore, with a quick look at the diagram is possible to verify where there is waste within a process. Management is able to identify stages that are reducing value or even activities that may be distracting the addition of value.

How to use a turtle diagram?

The best way to draw up a turtle diagram is using the method similar to the SIPOC (Supplier-Input-Process-Output-Customer). For each of the items and thinking about each of the processes, ask some questions that will then be included in the diagram.

S – Suppliers

Who are your suppliers? In order for a process to run, you will certainly need several inputs that will be used at work. All these items will be received from some partner and will impact the final result of the process. Make a list of all suppliers, partners, contractors, employees etc.

I – Inputs

What are your inputs? This moment will include what each supplier provides, that is, what enters the transformation process.  Make a list of materials, equipment, information, documents, requirements etc. In addition, it is necessary to know how inputs are obtained, so list methods, requirements, criteria, standard procedures, instructions etc.

 P – Processes

What are the stages of your process? It is also necessary to identify the interaction between them. Describe how the stages are performed and show the order in which each input is transformed. Focus only on steps that add value. Processes can involve multiple employees and departments in your organization.

Later, define what your support processes are. Make a list of all associated processes that support the main process, including materials, procedures, instructions, methods etc.

O – Outputs

What are the results of your process? Here the output can be the final product, which will be directed to the customer, or even the service. That is, this stages consists of everything that leaves the process after undergoing a modification. Make a list of all products and/or services. In addition, there is a need to know how you measure the results, that is, how you analyze them, and what the indicators are.

C – Customers

Who are your customers? At this stage, define who will benefit from that process. Here it is also important to highlight what customer requirements and expectations are.

Below is an example of how the diagram should be drawn. Note that each piece of information highlighted above is in red in the diagram:

But why is it called a “turtle”?

The name is very different when we use it in corporate environments, but there is an explanation. Looking at the previous image, it can be seen that the layout of the steps in the diagram form a drawing similar to that of a turtle.

The process represents the body. Inputs and outputs, that is, customer expectations and results represent the tail and head, respectively. Lastly, the four legs are represented by the other parts of the diagram: “Who”, “What”, “Measures” and “How”.

Final considerations

Through this text it was possible to understand that the process approach is essential to define and manage systematically the processes of an organization and its interactions to achieve the desired results according to the quality of the company and its strategic direction.

The use of the Turtle Diagram is a simple and didactic tool that helps in this mapping, in addition to providing several benefits such as understanding and consistency in meeting requirements, considering processes in terms of added value, achieving effective process performance and process improvement based on the evaluation of data and information.

How can SoftExpert help you?

SoftExpert Process is an easy-to-use, advanced visual process modeling and analysis tool that helps companies understand, document, and implement business and operational processes in the best possible way. With a comprehensive set of tools, the software allows users to model the flow of the process, write business rules, connect existing applications, and build interfaces for human interaction.

I want to know more about SoftExpert Process

Camilla Christino


Camilla Christino

Business Analyst at SoftExpert, completed a Bachelor's in Food Engineering at Instituto Mauá de Tecnologia. She has solid experience in the quality area in the food industries with a focus on monitoring and adapting internal and external auditing processes, documentation of the quality management system (ISO 9001, FSSC 22000, ISO / IEC 17025), Quality Control, Regulatory Affairs, GMP, HACCP and Food Chemical Codex (FCC). She is also certified as a leading auditor in the ISO 9001: 2015.

You might also like:

Get free content in your inbox!

Subscribe to our Newsletter and get content about corporate management's best practices produced by specialists.

By clicking the button below, you confirm that you have read and accept our Privacy Policy.

Please, fill out the form to download

Required field
Required field
Required field
Please enter a valid phone number
Required field

By clicking the button below, you confirm that you have read and accept our Privacy Policy