There are many things that can help drive a team forward, including leaders, tools, and resources. These are all sources of inspiration and can help boost efficiency, but there is something all teams need outside of these factors. That something is an efficient process. In order to get the most out of your team, it’s vital they operate with an efficient process, and the best tool to help streamline workflows is a flowchart template.
In this article, we’ll define a flowchart template while discussing when to use one, how it can be applied, and the best practices for its implementation.
Flowchart Template Definition
A flowchart template is a diagram that visualizes a linear set of steps to define a larger process. Different steps in the process will be denoted by different shapes which are connected by directional arrows to guide the user in the right direction. The purpose of organizing a flowchart template like this is to allow anyone to walk through a train of thought or workflow from beginning to end.
Flowchart Template Explained
Flowchart templates are used extensively throughout business, education, healthcare, and more because they’re extremely helpful for creating a simple visual aid that diagrams a process. When done correctly, they can:
- Provide concise structure to a complex process.
- Make decision-making easier.
- Visualize how an end goal comes to life.
The important features of a flowchart template are simply shapes and arrows. The shapes will refer to the different, steps, questions, or stages of the process while the arrows are meant to be directional markers, showing users what route to take.
Just using shapes and arrows doesn’t mean flowcharts can only move in a straight line, however. These elements can be used freely to signify changes in direction, vision, or a drastically different task.
One of the ways flowcharts can convey information is through the different kinds of shapes that are used. Depending on your structure, different shapes can connote different types of tasks, a start or stop command, if a document needs to be produced, and much more.
By using different shapes you can bake another layer of complexity into your flowcharts to provide the best possible instructions for your team. Additionally, you can add other unique design elements like different colors, styles, or sizes to add a unique touch to your flowchart template. This is another thing that helps make your flowchart unique and valuable.
Flowcharts are flexible, multi-purpose tools that teams can use for many different scenarios. Here are some of the most common use cases:
- To visualize a process.
- To audit a process for improvements.
- To share a process with others.
- To plan a project.
- Mapping a computer algorithm (commonly known as a UML diagram)
- To communicate a clear route from beginning to end.
- To simplify complex decision-making.
These are some of the various cases where flow charts are very helpful for teams, and mostly they revolve around the visualization or communication of a complex process. Flow charts are extremely helpful in breaking that down into linear steps and giving people a clear view of what needs to happen next.
Now that we understand where a flowchart template is most applicable, let’s discuss some best practices to using them and how to build one yourself.
Flowchart Template User Guide
There are multiple steps that need to be taken in order to successfully build a flowchart template. These don’t directly relate to the actual drawing of the lines and shapes but they do help structure your vision and goals when creating one. Here are some common steps to follow to successfully build a flowchart template.
Define a Topic
The first step in building a flowchart template is understanding the overall topic you’ll be outlining. Depending on the circumstance this could be a workflow, a service process, a project, or anything else. The title should reflect the topic and everything that follows will fall under this umbrella.
Define the Parameters
Arguably the most important part of the flowchart template is the parameters. In order to define the parameters accurately, these questions should be considered:
What is the start of the process? What is the end of the process? Are there multiple possible endings? Are there any essential steps in between? How detailed will the steps be?
The answers to these questions should help create boundaries for the flowchart template.
Brainstorm the Details
Within the defined parameters, the next step is brainstorming the details of the map. Without organizing them, think about every step, action, and direction that must be taken in order to achieve the end goal. These can be documented on sticky notes before being placed in their permanent slots.
Organize the Flowchart Template
After brainstorming all of the steps, it’s time to put them in place. This step involves organizing the process in a linear fashion so the ideas track from beginning to end, and also adding unique shapes and design elements to denote different meanings to different steps.
It’s important here to make the map as readable as possible to avoid any confusion between steps and direction.
Review and Use
The final step is the review and use of the flowchart template. Make sure everyone who will need it is able to understand how to use it and agrees that everything is placed correctly. After that, it’s time to put it into action.
Best Practices For Building a Flowchart Template
Understanding how to build a flowchart template helps you create one, but understanding the best practices to use them will unlock their full efficiency. Here are some tips to remember when creating a flowchart template.
- Plan the template thoroughly before building it: Missing even one step can throw a process off and it’s important everything is included.
- Keep it linear: Everything should generally move from top to bottom or left to right. Aside with some lateral and cyclical motion, this is the generally accepted direction of flow.
- Use recognizable design elements: Shapes, notes, and lines should be standardized and consistent in order to make the diagram simple to understand. In the case that the flowchart is complex or varied, implementing a key could be helpful for first time users.
- Bland is better: Normally we advocate for using colors to distinguish different elements visually, but with a flowchart, it’s important to stick to around three colors. This way things can be grouped based on similar tasks or directions but there isn’t too much variation to cause confusion.
- Get multiple opinions: Similar to other collaborative projects, it’s important that multiple people with different perspectives are consulted when creating a flowchart template to ensure every angle is accounted for and nothing is forgotten.
If you are looking to diagram a process or add visual significance to your workflow, a flowchart template is the perfect tool. Build your own custom flowchart template with Fresco today.