What is a Workflow? A Simple Guide with Editable Templates

Whether you are planning a project or your week, a workflow can help you organize and document the tasks you need to stay focused and keep track of them.

In this guide, we will discuss: what is a workflows, how to create one along with editable workflow diagram templates that you can use and download instantly.

What is a Workflow Process?

A workflow refers to a set of tasks that you do repeatedly or regularly to achieve business goals. A workflow can be documented as a list of steps or visualized through a workflow diagram.

A workflow diagram is used to visualize the sequence of steps in a workflow from start to finish. It is an efficient way to organize work.

It helps highlight the tasks that need to be completed, those who are responsible for carrying them out, and the time the different steps may take.

It was developed by Henry Gantt, the same person who is responsible for developing the Gantt chart.

Documenting your workflows can help you in many ways,

  • Helps with identifying unnecessary steps in processes. Diagramming your workflow can also help with detecting areas for improvement, where you need to add more steps to make the process more efficient
  • Allows to preserve and transfer knowledge on running certain processes
  • Helps with keeping track of the progress or status of projects and creating a realistic timeline for projects
  • When it comes to automating your processes, a workflow diagram is essential

Check out this handy guide to learn about workflow automation in more detail.

What are the types of Workflows?

Workflows can be visualized through a number of diagram types. From among them, the mostly used diagram types are,


The flowchart graphically conveys the sequence of actions in a process. By adding swimlanes to it, you can indicate other elements such as actors, timeline etc. involved in a process.

A workflow process - Workflow Guide

Activity Diagram

The activity diagram is a UML diagram type. It shows the activities or functions of a system in detail.

Activity Diagram for Login

Business Process Modeling and Notation (BPMN)

BPMN or business process modeling notation uses a standard set of graphical notations to map the steps of a process.

BPMN Ordering Intermediate Events Process

SIPOC Diagram

SIPOC diagrams help visualize a process from its start to end by highlighting the suppliers, inputs, process, outline, and customers involved.

SIPOC Diagram Template

What are the 3 basic components of Workflow?

There are several components that are common throughout most workflow diagrams.

  • Actors:  the resources such as people and machinery needed to carry out a task
  • Activities: the set of actions the actors will be performing throughout the workflow
  • Results: what is produced (the outcome) by the steps that are carried out

How to Create a Workflow

Following we have listed the basic steps you need to follow to create a workflow diagram.

Step 1: Identify the process you want to map out. If a process is complex and is repeated often, it would help those who are involved in carrying it out to have it documented.

Step 2: Discuss with process owners to decide which should and shouldn’t be documented in your workflow diagram. Also define the outcomes you need to generate.

Step 3: List down the steps involved in the workflow. Gather everyone involved in the workflow and map out the process steps in detail. Some steps may take up more time than you can afford, such steps can be outsourced or eliminated.

Step 4: Estimate the time each step would take to complete. If it’s a new workflow, a rough estimate would suffice.

Step 5: Using workflow diagrams, visualize the workflow steps you have identified. Here you can highlight the actors responsible for carrying them out as well.  Using the basic flowchart symbols, you can create a workflow diagram.

Step 5: The workflow may change overtime. Keep your workflow diagrams uptodate by constantly revising and refining them.

The benefit of having a digital workflow diagram is that you can update it whenever you want. Creately offers a diagram Viewer that you can embed in your company wikis and websites. It will reflect any updates you make to the original diagram.

Workflow Diagram Templates

The following workflow diagram templates are editable. Simply click on the diagram to apply changes and modify it to match the needs of your organization.

Template 1

Agile Marketing Flow

Template 2

Business Workflow

Template 3

Credit Approval Workflow

Template 4

Taxi Service Workflow

Template 5

Manufacturing Workflow

Template 6

Web Site Design Workflow

What are Your Thoughts on the Guide?

Workflow diagrams are used in every industry today. They simplify complex processes by breaking them into individual steps and by highlighting actors responsible for carrying them out. This helps maintain consistency, and make processes easier to follow.

Got any tips on creating effective workflows? Let us know in the comment section below.

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Amanda Athuraliya

Amanda Athuraliya is the communication specialist/content writer at Creately, online diagramming and collaboration tool. She is an avid reader, a budding writer and a passionate researcher who loves to write about all kinds of topics.

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