Ultimate Flowchart Guide ( Complete Flowchart Tutorial with Examples )
This is the only Flowchart guide you will ever need. Creately blog and the website has some really awesome articles covering various things related to flowcharts like Meanings of flowchart symbols, how to use swim lanes in flowcharts, flowchart best practices , case studies and many more. This blog post will simply gather all that information and present them in a logical way . Since this will be a somewhat long post I added sections to make it easier to navigate. So you can go to best practices quickly if you are not interested about the history.
- History of Flowcharts
- Flowchart Symbols Meaning
- How to Draw a Flowchart
- Flowchart Templates and Examples
- Flowchart Best Practices
- Common Mistakes Made when Drawing Flowcharts
- Flowchart Case Studies
- Feedback on Flowchart Guide
Flowcharts were introduced by Frank Gilberth in 1921, and they were called “Process Flow Charts” at the beginning . Allan H. Mogensen is credited with training business people on the use of Flowcharts. Wikipedia has a great summary about the history of flowcharts, read more in this wiki section.
Before drawing flowcharts you need to understand the different symbols used in Flowcharts. Most people are aware of basic symbols like processes and decision blocks. But there are many more symbols to make your flowchart more meaningful. Below image shows all the standard flowchart symbols.
Most people don’t know about some rarely used flowchart symbols like Sequential access storage, Direct data, Manual Input etc. Check the flowchart symbols page for a detailed explanation of different symbols. Although these are the standard symbols available in most flowchart software, some people do use different shapes for different meanings. The most common example of this is the using circles to denote start and end. The examples in this flowchart guide will stick with the standard symbols.
Flowcharts can be categorized into four main types. Document flowchart, System flowchart, data flowchart and program flowchart. Not everyone agrees with this categorization, but the core principals of drawing a flowchart remains the same. You need to consider few things when drawing a flowchart, Check out 6 useful tips on drawing flowcharts before you start.
If you are drawing a flowchart with many responsible parties you can group them together using swim lanes. Swim lanes are a powerful technique to increase the readability of you flowchart so you should use them according to the situation. Read using swim lanes in flowcharts to learn more about the process.
Below video shows how to draw a flowchart using Creately. It is very simple to use and one click create and connect helps you draw them faster as well. You can drag and drop symbols from the library or drag images to your diagram by doing an image search.
Although you can start drawing flowcharts by scratch it is much easier to use templates. They help you reduce errors and reminds you about the best practices to follow. If you want to use a ready made template, go to flowchart templates page and click on the flowchart that best suits you. Click on the use at template after the image and you are ready to draw your flowchart. Below are two templates out of hundreds of flowchart templates available to the user. Click on any of them to start drawing flowcharts immediately.
There are few things you can do to make your flowchart universally accepted. And there are some things that you can do to make it visually pleasing to others as well. Using standard symbols will make it understandable for a wide audience. However it is important to remember that the idea is to give out information in a easy to understand manner. It is perfectly acceptable to use an alternative image instead of the document symbol as long as the audience understands it. Keeping the arrow flow to one side, using same size symbols, naming the decision blocks, processes, arrows etc are few things you can do to make it better. The common mistakes section covers most of these practices in detail.
This section highlights the common mistakes made when drawing flowcharts. Some of the things mentioned here are for better looking and more understandable flowcharts, not having them in your flowchart wont make it wrong. Since there are two posts covering these mistakes in depth I will link to them from this flowchart guide.
A flowchart guide isn’t complete without some case studies.Below are three case studies and real life examples on how flowcharts can help you make decisions.
- Ten Flowchart Ideas for Your Business – How flowcharts can be used in making business decision and to optimize the current business processes
- Analyzing Sales Funnel with Flowcharts – How to analyze the Google analytic sales funnel using a flowchart.
- Flutterscape Case Study – How one of our customers used flowcharts to enhance their processes.
I hope this flowchart guide will help you to come up with awesome flowcharts. Flowcharts are a great way present complex processes in a simple to understand manner and they are used all over the world in many industries. If you have a question about drawing flowcharts or have any suggestions to improve this post, feel free to mention in the comments section.
17 Comments + Add Comment
Leave a comment
Creately is an easy to use Online Diagramming software - purpose built for team collaboration. Powerful features and an intuitive interface make Creately ideal for teams working together on everything from Business Diagrams, Strategy Maps, Flowcharts, Web Mockups to UML designs.
Here we share our experiences and lessons learnt building a web-company.