Home > Process Workshops > Flow Chart Template - How It's Done Properly

Introduction

Knowledge is power.

You know that.

I know that.

So, why are so many business owners choosing to live in ignorance?

I’ll wager a bet that you want to run a profitable business.

Okay, it’s not much of a gamble.

But if you want to do just that, you need to know what’s making it profitable.

What’s going good, what’s going bad.

Which processes are producing the most value, which are slowing up operations.

And there’s only one way to figure that out.

Since you clicked on this article, I reckon you know what it is:

Process mapping!

Lucky for you, we’re the process mapping experts.

Did you know?

96% of companies have documented processes.

Joanna Grimbley-Smith - Business Automation Expert

Source: BP Trends

In fact, only 3 weeks ago did we start communications with a new client:

An accounting firm based in Glasglow.

They’d spent the last few months setting up a new service.

(Advising entrepreneurs for small fees.)

It was going really well.

They saw a 74% increase in demand since they first launched the service.

This was great!

One problem: it was too great.

With so much demand, their efficiency was scuppering.

They knew mistakes and delays would soon start ticking over.

It was a disaster waiting to happen.

What did they do?

Turn to us, of course.

We knew the answer to their concerns.

And it was as simple as something called a ‘basic flowchart’.

A few weeks later, and they had worked out how to cut back on wasted time and resources.

(Outdated admin processes can make a good business bad.)

We even built them an automation tool to speed up their front desk processes.

If they hadn’t used a flowchart, they wouldn’t have spotted this problem.

frustrated woman looking at laptop with head in hands

We managed to save them $2300 in just one month.

Not bad, right?

Want to see the same results?

Well, you’re in the right place.

Not only am I going to show you how to produce a flowchart…

This article is crammed full of helpful templates, too.

I’m going to cover:

 What flowcharts and process maps are

 How they can benefit your business

 Whether your business needs them

 What the flowchart symbols mean

 And the best tools to draw them

Talk to the Automation Experts!

Contents
Achieving optimal results and optimising processes with Lolly Co

Chapter 1
What Is A Flowchart?

Achieving optimal results and optimising processes with Lolly Co

Chapter 2
Does Your Business Need To Use Flowcharts?

Achieving optimal results and optimising processes with Lolly Co

Chapter 3
How Do Flowcharts Benefit A Business?

Achieving optimal results and optimising processes with Lolly Co

Chapter 4
A Step-By-Step Guide To Drawing A Flowchart

Achieving optimal results and optimising processes with Lolly Co

Chapter 5
5 Easy-To-Use Flowchart Templates

Achieving optimal results and optimising processes with Lolly Co

Chapter 6
Our Top-Rated Tools For Drawing Flowcharts

Chapter 1

What Is A Flowchart?

Let’s start with the basics:

A flowchart - also known as a process map - is a diagram that separates the steps of an individual process into a sequence.

It is one of the most popular process analysis tools.

This is because it is easy to use and simple to understand.

It uses a series of symbols and arrows to connect the steps.

Each symbol represents a different element involved in a process, such as:

 Inputs and outputs

 Decisions

 Data

 Documents

 Actions

What’s the purpose of flowcharts?

They provide your team with a clear reference point regarding a business process.

They are used to help improve a business’s efficiency.

Process maps provide insights that can improve a business, boost communication and produce process documentation.

They also help you identify problems with your processes, like bottlenecks, delays and repetition.

A number of other benefits tag along, too.

But we will talk about them later.

Also known as ‘flow charts’, they can be hand drawn or produced with computer software.

You might have heard them go by a different name, such as process flowchart, functional flowchart, or process flow diagram.

Here’s an example of a flowchart:

a meeting happening in an office

Today, process maps are one of the most important business tools to have in your arsenal.

But where did they come from?

Flowcharts can be traced back to 1921.

A pair of industrial engineers first introduced the ‘Flow Process Chart’ to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

A decade later, and this tool was used during Allan H. Morgensen’s conferences to show how to make the workday more efficient.

But it was two of his students in the 1940s that really spread the word about process maps.

In fact, it was Art Spinanger that first introduced the charts to Procter and Gamble.

(You might have heard of them.)

Around the same time - in the 1940s - flowcharts took on a whole new purpose.

Herman Goldstine and John Van Neumann used them to develop computer programmes.

And to this day, lots of software developers still use flowcharts to design their new software.

(They’re great for showing a precise level of detail.)

Their prestige was then established in Japan:

Kaoru Ishikawa, a leader of innovations in Japanese manufacturing, named flowcharts are one of the most important tools in quality control.

You can see why they’re so popular today!

Did you know?

Business process management can boost the success rate of your projects by 70%.

Joanna Grimbley-Smith - Business Automation Expert

Source: Gartner

Flowcharts have come far.

So far, in fact, that there are now several different types of flowchart to choose from.

And each has a different purpose.

There are four established types of flowchart:

 Document flowcharts

 Data flowcharts

 System flowcharts

 Programme flowcharts

Planning a new project?

Use a basic process flowchart.

Documenting a process across several functional groups?

Try a swimlane flowchart.

Need to manage a workflow?

Go for a workflow process map.

Making a tough decision?

Consider a decision flowchart.

Managing data?

Give a data flow diagram a go.

Auditing a complex process?

Check out a basic process map.

There’s a lot more where that came from, but you get the gist.

If you have a problem, a flowchart can solve it.

Chapter 2

Does Your Business Need To Use Flowcharts?

Flowcharts are clearly an important tool that any business can use.

But that’s a bit vague, isn’t it?

You want to know what they can do for your business and whether it’s worth learning all those symbols.

And I can help.

Firstly, let’s talk about which businesses can use flowcharts.

The answer is pretty simple: any business!

If you have a business process, you can map it.

cash machine loading up money

Need more convincing?

The use of flowcharts spans vast industries.

From engineering to entertainment, from retail stores to software development-

It is not reserved for any industry.

In fact, we’ve helped all of our clients use flowcharts.

And we’ve worked with all sorts.

Accounting firms, farmers, eCommerce retailers and cosmetic surgery clinics…

They’ve all benefitted from process mapping.

Did you know?

78% of workers claim they need to prioritise communication in their workplace.

Joanna Grimbley-Smith - Business Automation Expert

Source: Dynamic Signal

Take one of our first clients:

They’re a medical manufacturing company that operates in the States.

They come back to us on a quarterly basis to redo their process maps.

(They like to make sure everything is up to date.)

But all too often they have to rejig production.

And with the recent global pandemic, you can understand why...

Changing what they produce is not easy.

It takes time to find the most efficient way to produce it.

And with global competition surging, failing to be efficient can be lethal.

So, we help them revise their altered industrial processes with flowcharts.

It means they can identify repetition and delay frequently.

And this cuts their losses and keeps their profits stable.

Sounds good, right?

I told you!

Now you know that any business can benefit from flowcharts…

When should you do one?

The easy answer:

Whenever you want!

It can’t hurt to identify efficiency and find ways to do things better.

I’m going to cover:

 You want to understand how a process is done

 You want to study the process and improve it

 You want to communicate how a process is done

 You want to improve communication in your team

 You want to document a process

 You want to plan a process

Any of these sound familiar?

Then keep reading.

I’ll have you process mapping in no time!

Want to know more about Process Workshops?

'Course you do. That’s why our technology consultants and workshop leaders have pooled their collective knowledge and then typed it up in this concise eBook.

This is your whistle-stop tour of how to streamline your core business processes with a process workshop. Learn how to deep-dive your core processes, map out their individual stages and then optimise them. It’s crammed full of the tricks-and-tips we apply to our clients. You don’t even have to work with us to save some serious cash.

Upgrade The Book by Daniel Cooper

Chapter 3

How Do Flowcharts Benefit A Business?

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m a fan of flowcharts.

Okay, okay.

I’m a little bias.

Process mapping workshops are one of our most popular services.

But there are plenty of benefits to get you on the same page as me.

And we’re going to go through them!

Advantages

It can boost your team’s communication.

Hands up if you hate jargon.

(Me too.)

The problem is that only experts can understand what you’re saying.

If a member of your team doesn’t really know what’s going on, this is a problem.

Process maps are visual tools that set out complex operations in clear steps.

And the symbols help to simplify things even more.

Any member of your organisation can take one look at a flowchart and understand it.

No specialist knowledge required.

Did you know?

Only 4% of companies measure and manage their documented processes

Joanna Grimbley-Smith - Business Automation Expert

Source: Procesowcy.pl

It improves your process analysis.

These days, business moves fast.

Really fast.

You don’t have time to reflect on last month’s numbers in that much depth.

You need quick analysis and even quicker answers.

With a process map in tow, you can be sure you hit your deadlines.

You can look at the flowchart and understand problems and opportunities much faster.

Being able to see delay, repetition and waste in one go is pretty impressive.

And it’s useful, too!

It provides effective documentation.

Process documentation is a really important thing to have.

You need it to:

 Improve productivity

 Train new employees

 Comply with regulations

Process mapping is often used to create bespoke process documentation.

Disadvantages

If something changes, you need to redo the entire process map.

Change is good.

But unfortunately, it can be a hassle with flowcharts.

two factory workers looking at document together

If your operations are altered, your process maps will need to be, too.

This could result in wasted time and money.

If your operations don’t significantly change frequently, process maps are a valuable tool.

Remember that client I mentioned?

The American medicine manufacturer?

We set up a schedule with them to ensure they limited productivity losses when production had to shift.

They could spot new problems instantly.

And it saved them losing $37,000 a year!

Process maps don’t work with overly complex processes.

Yes, it’s an ironic disadvantage.

But it does make sense:

If you have a process that is far too convoluted or complicated, don’t use a flowchart.

It’ll look messy and difficult to understand.

And that’s the opposite of what you want!

You need to use specific software or online tool to produce a digital copy.

Remember the good ol’ days of pen and paper?

Not fondly.

You want to get things done.

Bad news:

Typing up or creating a flowchart on a computer isn’t easy.

Unless you’re willing to use an online tool.

Good news:

I know all about those tools.

(I’ll talk you through them later in this article.)

Chapter 4

A Step-By-Step Guide To Drawing A Flowchart

Here we are:

You’re ready to get flowchartin’!

Well, it’s pretty simple.

Especially if you use an online tool.

(We will talk about them in a later chapter.)

But for now, we will walk through the basic steps of:

 Planning process maps

 Drawing a flowchart

 And understanding what they mean

How hard can it be?

Step 1: Define the purpose of this flowchart

You can’t know if you’ve succeeded at something if you didn’t have an aim.

So, always start with a few goals.

From there, work out what process you want to map.

What do you hope to accomplish with this flowchart?

Which processes do you need to prioritise?

What are the start and end points of the process you’ve chosen?

Did you know?

Engaged employees are more productive and generate a 21% increase in profits.

Joanna Grimbley-Smith - Business Automation Expert

Source: Go Remotely

Step 2: Identify the individual tasks of a process

Maybe interview some employees…

Put a couple of post-its up on a whiteboard…

Or just go observe a process.

You always need to start by just listing the stages of a process.

Don’t forget to establish how much detail you want on the map!

Step 3: Organise the tasks into process map elements

Take that list and translate each task into the corresponding shape.

Each element has a different symbol or shapes.

Here’s all the shapes you need to know:

customer holding a credit card

Step 4: Draw your flowchart

This is the easy bit.

Start laying out the elements and connecting them with arrows.

You can do this by hand with ol’ fashioned pen n’ paper…

Or opt for a digital tool that can edit and share a flowchart in a single click.

Step 5: Verify your flowchart with stakeholders

So, you’ve produced a flowchart.

And you’re pretty proud of it!

But your manager takes one look and furrows his brow.

Your entire team needs to agree that the process has been mapped accurately - and then are able to understand it.

Walk through the steps with your colleagues.

If you’ve missed out a step or gotten something wrong, get on with editing.

(This is where digital tools really come in handy.)

Chapter 5

5 Easy-To-Use Flowchart Templates

Ready to get process mapping?

I bet.

But, like anything new, it can be tough to get started.

It’s all well and good for me to chuck a few symbols at you…

Talk about steps and planning and arrows…

And then recommend online platforms for your flowchart…

I know what you need.

I know why you came here.

You want some templates.

Did you know?

1 out of 4 employees believes their employers take their feedback and suggestions into account.

Joanna Grimbley-Smith - Business Automation Expert

Source: Tiny Pulse

You want to just change up the text and shake up the shapes.

You want someone else to take the lead.

That’s exactly what one of our newest clients asked for.

4 months ago, we started producing software for an online beauty retailer.

When they heard we use process maps, they quickly asked for a session.

Problem is, their team was struggling.

They weren’t flowchart experts.

And they were concerned they’d start wasting time as they didn’t know how to start one!

This inspired us to make a quick change to our sessions.

We start off by showing them example flowcharts and process map templates.

Even before we’ve talked about their processes!

This means they can understand how they work…

And task some inspiration right off the bat.

Ready to be inspired?

Here are 5 flowchart templates to get you started.

Basic Flowchart Template

customer holding a credit card

Swimlane Flowchart Template

customer holding a credit card

Decision Flowchart Template

customer holding a credit card

Data Flow Flowchart Template

This kind of flowchart is unique.

Also known as a data flow diagram, it maps out the data flow in a process or system.

DFDs use different symbols than flowcharts.

It shows data inputs, data outputs, data storage points and the route the data follows.

customer holding a credit card

Decision Flowchart Template

customer holding a credit card

Chapter 6

Our Top-Rated Tools For Drawing Flowcharts

Let’s recap:

 You know what flowcharts are

 You know your team needs to start using them

 And you know what your finished process map should look like

Now it’s time to actually start creating your flowchart.

But how?

You could keep things old school and stick to trusty pencils and a notepad.

Could even chuck in a post-it or two, if you’re feelin’ creative.

These days, more and more executives are logging on to online flowchart generators or downloading helpful software.

Lucidchart

This is an intelligent diagramming application.

You can build process maps, share them with your team and collaborate on them.

It comes loaded with basic flowchart templates and is easy to use.

It can even be used to produce data flow diagrams!

Lucidchart is the perfect option for teams - especially remote ones.

You can try Lucidchart for free, or set your team up with unlimited flowcharts and advanced collaboration tools from $108 per person per year.

customer holding a credit card

Microsoft Visio

You know you can trust Microsoft.

Heck, most people use Microsoft Word to produce their process maps!

Just like Lucidchart, it’s packed full of helpful process map templates and an easy-to-use interface.

Anyone can get to grips with this flowchart software.

You can also use it to produce org charts, floor plans and network diagrams.

In addition, it allows real-time collaboration.

It starts at $299.99 per year.

Did you know?

21% of UK employees believe they are fully productive for an entire workday.

Joanna Grimbley-Smith - Business Automation Expert

Source: Go Remotely

Draw.io

This free online tool might not be as sharp as Lucidchart or Microsoft, but it gets the job done.

Simply type ‘draw.io’ into your browser and you’re ready to start process mapping.

You can save your finished flowchart to your computer, browser or online file storage service.

And you can share it via Google Drive or One Drive.

If you’re looking to give flowcharts a go, start here.

Gliffy Diagram

This diagramming software puts team-building flowcharts first.

Not only can you collaborate with any team member on this easy-to-use tool, you can import and edit old flowcharts.

No more starting from scratch!

Plus, you can integrate the software with Atlassian to improve communication that much more.

Gliffy starts at $72 per user per year.

Miro

This collaborative whiteboard tool can be used for all sorts of things.

Brainstorming, design, strategy…

And, of course, flowcharts!

Starting at $96 per user per year, this tool can provide you with far more than process mapping.

It also integrates with Jira and Asana to help remote teams keep connected.

Conclusion

You made it!

You should now know:

 What flowcharts are

 Have a few basic flowchart templates on hand

 And be ready to download some flowchart software

Still not sure how to get started?

We can help.

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