Difference Between Flowchart and Data Flow Diagram (DFD)

The terms flowchart and data flow diagram (DFD) are related to software engineering describing the path of process or data step by step. Although flow chart is used in almost all the fields of education and engineering data flow diagram is mainly used is the software industry. Both the diagrams are made to make the process simple to understand. A flow chart provides the steps needed to reach the desired results and a data flow diagram describes the source from which data is coming, the change that occurs in the system and the source at which it ends. Both these diagrams provide a very easy way to understand the way a process is taking place or data is being processed from the beginning till the end.


A flowchart is made to break down a process into simple steps by writing down the steps in boxes that are connected with arrows. A flow chart starts from the first step and ends at the last step with all the actions to be performed in middle. Flow chart also trouble shoots the problems by providing solution if an error occurs during any step. The biggest advantage of a flow chart is that it gives an overall view of the process at a single glance, to understand it better. There are different types of flowcharts like

• System flow chart

• Data flow chart

• Document flow chart

• Program flow chart

Data Flow Diagram

A data flow diagram is a representation of data flow through a system during which it is processed as well. The flow of data from an external source or internal source to its destination is shown by a diagram. Where the data will end up after being processed is also shown in a data flow diagram. The processes through which data will go through are shown in these diagrams. These processes can be a sequence or act simultaneously while data is going through the system.

Flowchart vs Data Flow Diagram (DFD)

• The main difference between flow chart and data flow diagram is that flow chart presents steps to complete a process where as data flow diagram presents the flow of data.

• Flow chart does not have any input from or output to external source whereas data flow diagram describes the path of data from external source to internal store or vice versa.

• The timing and sequence of the process is aptly shown by a flow chart where as the processing of data is taking place in a particular order or several processes are taking simultaneously is not described by a data flow diagram.

• Data flow diagrams define the functionality of a system where as flow diagram shows how to make a system function.

• Flow charts are used in designing a process but data flow diagram are used to describe the path of data that will complete that process.