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Process flow chart: what it is & how to create one

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Keeping your business organized can be a tall order — especially as it grows. Process flow charts are one way to organize business processes by visualizing the steps of a process or workflow. As you dive deeper into the individual steps of a process, you can discover opportunities to improve teamwork and productivity.

Visualizing processes with a flowchart can help you organize important details and improve your operations. As you develop your process flow chart, you can discover non-value-added processes and optimize your workflow.

In this guide, we’ll discuss what a process flow chart is and how you can create one for your business. Keep reading to learn more.

What is a process flow chart?

Process flow charts are a way of visually organizing your workflow. They use different shapes connected by lines, each representing an individual step.

A process flow chart aids in project management by helping you outline and visualize your workflows. An example could be a chart showing how you process and fulfill customer orders from the moment an order is placed to delivery.

Importance of process flow charts

Visualizing your workflow allows you to understand your project scope better so you can plan your project based on your goals and deadlines.

Having a clear visual representation of your processes helps improve teamwork and keep everyone on the same page. This way, everyone can understand your business processes from start to finish and the role they play in those processes.

Creating a flow process chart can improve productivity by weeding out non-value-added activities. You have ample room to grow and improve if you’re not wasting precious time on unnecessary steps.

Types of flow charts

There are several types of flow charts, each serving a different purpose. You can learn more about some of the different flow charts below:

  • Basic flow chart: Simple flow charts are ideal for visualizing basic steps without many complexities or details.
  • System flow chart: System flow charts show how every part of a system interacts with the other parts.
  • Workflow diagram: Workflow diagrams visualize steps or processes required to complete a project, which can help you minimize waste.
  • Data flow chart: Data flow charts show how data moves throughout your system and other connected systems.
  • Decision flow chart: These flow charts play a vital role in the decision-making process, answering simple questions to arrive at a final decision.
  • Swimlane flow chart: Swimlane flow charts allow you to visualize who’s responsible for each part of a process or project, whether that’s an individual or a group.

Components of a process flow chart

Process flow charts have a few key symbols used to contextualize the information in the chart. Different symbols are used for different steps within a process flow chart with connecting lines in between.

Different shapes and symbols—including diamonds and rectangles—are used for each process or step, with lines connecting the symbols. Different types of lines denote the beginning and end of the flow chart, and directional arrows indicate the flow direction of the chart.

Visualizing information with flow charts can play a crucial role in project planning, and it’s easy once you understand what the symbols represent.

Steps to create a process flow chart

Creating a process flow chart isn’t rocket science, but there are some basic guidelines you need to follow. Below is a step-by-step guide to help you create your next process flow chart.

Identify the process

Start by clearly defining the process or workflow you’re going to outline. Choosing which projects to visualize and optimize is critical to strategic planning. Once you have a good idea of what you want your flow chart to represent, you can start building it out.

Define boundaries

When it comes to process flow charts for businesses, you can always add more details or break a process down further by adding more steps. However, when creating a flow chart, you only want to include the necessary details.

Figure out the scope and boundaries of your flow chart before you start fleshing it out. That way, you’ll avoid wasting time adding information that complicates the main objective. Details are good, but you don’t want to go overboard.

Gather information

This is where knowledge sharing comes into play. Now, it’s time to collect detailed information about the steps, inputs, and outputs contributing to the process. Ensure you track the process from start to finish to avoid missing crucial steps.

Identify the sequence of steps

Now that you know the steps involved in the process you’re outlining, you can put them in the correct sequence to start organizing your flow chart. Your flow chart should move in one consistent direction from beginning to end, with each step bringing you closer to completing the process.

Draw the flow chart

With process flow charts, the individual steps only tell part of the story—you need to connect them to tell the whole story. Complete your flow chart by using symbols and connectors to connect individual steps and create an accurate visual representation of the process from start to finish.

Review and revise

Once you’ve organized and drawn everything out, review your flow chart to ensure it’s accurate, complete, and clear. If there are any issues, you can revise your flow chart.

Reviewing and revising is a never-ending battle. Even after completing a flow chart, you must review and update it regularly to ensure accuracy. Make sure to reflect any changes in your flow charts as they occur.

Uses of process flow charts

A good process flow chart can provide several benefits for businesses. Here are some of the common uses of process flow charts:

  • Process improvement: Visualizing processes helps you understand how to optimize them, saving you time and money.
  • Training and onboarding: When you clearly understand your training and onboarding process, you can streamline it and ensure everyone receives the same training.
  • Communication: Flow charts can help you identify communication gaps in different project stages to keep everyone on the same page.
  • Documentation: Using visuals helps everyone follow documentation best practices — from project documentation to team documentation.
  • Compliance and quality assurance: Creating a step-by-step visual representation of a process helps you identify potential compliance or quality assurance issues before it’s too late.

Best practices for creating effective process flow charts

An effective flow chart can help you optimize business processes and improve productivity and project collaboration. Here are some guidelines to follow to ensure you’re doing it right.

Keep your process flow chart simple. Focus on adding key steps and information only.

Using consistent symbols and connecting lines adds clarity to your process flow charts, making it easier to collaborate with your team and boost productivity. You can even involve stakeholders in the process.

Once your flow chart is complete, there’s still work to do. Updating and maintaining flow charts helps you keep a constant visualization of the processes that your business relies on.

Create process flow charts with Confluence Whiteboards

Process flow charts can offer several benefits for businesses, improving productivity and teamwork while eliminating unnecessary steps. With Confluence Whiteboards, you can visualize and turn ideas into tasks.

Confluence brings everyone together in a connected workspace to move projects forward. Teams can create, edit, and share project plans in a connected workspace so everyone is on the same page.

Confluence flow chart templates make it easy to create effective flow charts quickly, plus you can convert stickies into Jira issues with a few clicks.

Use Confluence Whiteboards to visualize your workflow and optimize your business with process flow charts.

Process flow chart: Frequently Asked Questions

What is an example of a process flow chart?

A great process flow chart example is product delivery. You can use a process flow chart to visualize the delivery of a product from the moment the customer contacts you to the moment you finish the job. The first step may be the customer contacting you (or vice versa), eventually leading to the point where you fulfill the order, and the customer receives an email letting them know their order arrived.

You can use process flow charts for almost anything, including manufacturing, service delivery, product delivery, and project management processes.

What tools can you use to create process flow charts?

Confluence allows you to create process flow charts that visualize your business processes accurately. Confluence is easy to use, and you can start with a flow chart template so you don’t have to do all the work. Once you’ve chosen a template, you can add individual steps and symbols to clarify the chart. Confluence also integrates seamlessly with Jira and various third-party tools.

How often should process flow charts be updated?

If you modify a workflow or process outlined in a flow chart, update the chart accordingly. Flow charts don’t provide much value if they’re inaccurate, and you probably add or remove steps from various processes and workflows more than you think. You should regularly review and update your process flow charts to ensure they continuously add value to your business.

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