What is the Difference Between the System Flow Chart and the Program Flow Chart? with Proper Definition and Brief Explanation

The main difference between them is that a system flow chart represents a complete system, while a program flow chart represents a single program.

Software development is a complex task. It is not possible to write programs for the whole system directly. Therefore, it is necessary to model the system to gain a better understanding of the system. In addition, there are different diagrams that help to understand the functionality of the system. One of these diagrams is a flow chart. It is a schematic representation that illustrates a solution model for a given problem. The system flowchart and the program flowchart are two types of flowcharts.

Key areas covered

1. What is a flow chart?
     – Definition, Functionality
2. What is a system flow diagram?
     – Definition, Functionality
3. What is a program flow diagram?
     – Definition, Functionality
4. What is the difference between the system flow chart and the program flow chart?
     – Comparison of key differences

Key terms

Program flow chart, system flow chart

What is a flowchart?

A flow chart is a diagram that represents the sequence of steps to solve a given problem. It is easier to learn and write than a regular programming language. In addition, it helps to identify the steps required to perform a particular task.

                                               Figure 1: A flow chart

There are several symbols in a flow chart. An oval symbol represents the start and end of the flowchart. Meanwhile, a rhombus symbol represents entry and exit operations. A user entering the values ​​for the variables is an input operation. Displaying the calculated result on the screen is an output operation. A rectangle represents a process such as a calculation or variable initialization, while an arrow describes the flow of the sequence. In addition, a diamond symbol helps with decision-making.

What is a system flow chart?

A system flow diagram is a diagram that describes how a complete system works. It helps to recognize the flow of operations in the system. It also helps in the preparation of the required system documents.

                                     Figure 1: System flow diagram

Additionally, a system flow diagram reflects the relationships between inputs, outputs, and processes. Managers, business analysts, and software engineers use the system flow chart to analyze and design the system.

What is a program flow chart?

A complete software system is a collection of multiple programs. A program flow diagram describes a single program. Before writing the program, it is good practice to draw a flow chart and identify how to solve the task using that program.

                                         Figure 3: Program flow diagram

For example, suppose you need to create a program to find the area of ​​a rectangle. The first step is to declare a variable called area and initialize it with zero. Then you can enter values ​​for length and width. The third step is to calculate the area and store the result in the variable area. Finally, the calculated result is displayed on the screen. After drawing the flowchart, the programmer can write the program by following the steps in the flowchart of the program. This is an effective method, especially when solving a complex task.

Difference between system flow chart and program flow chart


The system flow chart is a type of flow chart that explains the functionality of a complete system. In contrast, a program flow chart is a type of flow chart that explains how a particular program solves a certain task. So this is the basic difference between them.


Complexity is an important difference between them. System flow diagrams are complex and difficult to understand. However, the program’s flowcharts are easy to understand.


There is another difference between them based on its usage. A system flow chart helps to understand the entire system, while the other one helps to understand how to solve the problem using the program.


In summary, the system flow chart and the program flow chart are two types of graphical diagrams. The main difference between them is that a system flow chart represents a complete system, while the other one represents a single program.


1. “Flow chart”. Wikipedia , Wikimedia Foundation, October 18, 2018, Available here.

Courtesy Image:

1. “Flowchart en” by Erik Streb – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Example of the Stockbridge system flow diagram” By edward: accounting information systems (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
3. “Flowchart connector example” By User: Kayau – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

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