6 Useful Tips on Drawing Flowcharts

Drawing flowcharts can be a challenging task unless you know how to create them. But, if you've understood the basic principles, flowcharts are fairly simple things. It's too simple and it'll probably need one line to explain. Truly speaking, there's more to flowcharts than simple shapes and arrows connecting them.

When I had to create my first flowchart, I did a lot of reading to understand the meanings and use of the flowchart symbols; and the importance of creating process flows. Here are some useful tips and twiks to help you create better flowcharts in future. Read below for 6 tips on drawing flowcharts, or refer our ultimate flowchart guide.

Why are you drawing the Flowchart(s)?

Identify why you are drawing a flowchart. It may be to explain a process to someone, to understand a process, to find loopholes in a process flow and so on. Whatever may the reason be, it's important to identify the objective on why you want a flowchart. Once this is clear, you're job is pretty straight forward!

Are there many ‘actors’ involved?

Swimlane chart is the best way to explain a process flow which includes different responsible parties (or things). They help clarify who / what is responsible for each step quite easily.

If you have many actors (say more than 6), it might be better to generalize them if possible. Ex. rather than having three columns for Bob, Wiley and John at Marketing department, just group them into the Marketing department. Again, it all depends on who the audience is.

On Swimlanes, Creately has some neat tricks that automatically glues shapes to swimlanes so you don’t miss them when resizing etc.

Decide on the start and end points of the flowchart

As trivial as it may sound, a flow with random endings is more confusing than it helps. So choose the objectives and keep it simple.

Break it down into multiple flows

Very long flowcharts can be very complex and tend to make the reader overlook details that you are actually trying to convey. It is best to break down a flowchart into sub-flows. Use the connector and inbuilt link feature to create automatically linked documents with sub-flows in Creately.

Use colors meaningfully

You can color code your flowchart objects to convey things like Risk involved, Who’s responsible, Process state (Draft/Final), basically anything you want. But always remember to include a legend on the corner so everyone knows how to read the chart.

Get your team on-board

Documenting processes or planning steps requires careful review and thinking. You can use Creately’s inbuilt collaboration features to help kick this process off easily.

Image from : http://gtd.marvelz.com/

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