How to create an IPO chart

Written by nick foster
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How to create an IPO chart
IPO stands for input, process and output. (Zedcor Wholly Owned/ Images)

With advances in technology, software development has become an issue increasingly likely to surface over the course of running a business. This area of expertise is highly specialised, but familiarity with some of its basic concepts can be helpful in understanding factors related to important software development decisions. The Input-Process-Output Model is a model used for developing software by writing pseudo-code, an expression of computer code in English used to design computer software before actually writing the code in a computer programming language. The method involves creating an IPO chart to graphically organise interchangeable components, or modules, of a software program.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Create a table with four columns, a row for headings and a row for each module to be described. Label the columns in the header row from left to right with the following names: "Module," "Input," "Process" and "Output."

  2. 2

    List the modules to be described in the left column of the table. The description of each module will be completely independent of each other module, referencing only input and output data and at no time referencing another module.

  3. 3

    List the data required as an input to each module in the "Input" column. This is data that the module needs in order to perform its intended process.

  4. 4

    List the process performed by each module in the "Process" column. This includes mathematical functions the module performs with the input data, information the module displays on the computer screen as a result of the input data, abstract logical functions the module performs and any prompts that require a user to answer using a keyboard.

  5. 5

    List the data each module produces as an output of its process in the "Output" column. This includes the outcome of process calculations and statuses, based on the input data, to be communicated to the operating system.

Tips and warnings

  • Not all modules have data inputs or outputs. For example, a module that prompts the user for information to be entered using the keyboard does not have any data input, as the manual entry of a value is part of the module's process. Instead the entered value is an output of such a module or data it produces. Similarly, a module that displays input data as information on the screen does not process that data to create any new output data; the modules process is simply to display information to the user. There is no output for such a module. Only data can be classified as an input or an output when using an IPO chart, everything else is a part of a module's process.

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