How to Make a Flowchart
Flowcharts may have lots of specialized symbols, but the diagram itself is surprisingly easy to make. A successful flowchart conveys information in an organized, efficient, and easily consumed manner. Follow these steps to create one of your own.
Ready to start? Try Lucidchart today! Built specifically for creating flowcharts and other specialty diagrams, Lucidchart is both intuitive and powerful. From virtually any device or operating system, Lucidchart lets you create and share professional flowcharts in minutes.Try it now Sign up free
SELECT A DRAWING MEDIUM
Pick a medium in which to draw your flowchart. Some people use a pencil and paper, or a marker and whiteboard, while others use flowcharting software especially designed for the task. One advantage to the latter approach is that your information is saved in a digital format, so it’s easy to edit and share. You can choose between downloaded software that runs on a single computer, or cloud-based software that is accessible from any Internet-enabled device. For the purposes of this guide, we’ll proceed as though you’re using Lucidchart. You can get started with Lucidchart's free editor. When your flowchart is complete, try exporting it as an image file or share it online.
LIST PROCESS STEPS
Once you’ve selected a medium, think about the steps in your process and list them one by one. If you’re not sure when a particular step would come into play, write it down anyway. When you’ve emptied your thoughts onto the screen, look back at the steps that don’t have a set position. Ask yourself,
What happens next in the process?
Does a decision need to be made before we proceed?
To move onto the next step, whose approval do I need?
If you still can’t find a place for a task, it may not be essential.
ADD SHAPES AND SYMBOLS
It’s time to draw your flowchart. Begin with the elongated circle shape. In Lucidchart, you simply drag it onto the canvas and double-click to add text. Label your shape with an appropriate name, like “Begin” or “Start here”.
Move on to the first step or question. You can easily copy and paste the action items you’ve already listed into the correct symbol.
While you can refer to our flowchart symbol library for more details, a rectangle or diamond shape is usually appropriate at this stage of your chart. Rectangles represent a process to be carried out, while diamonds represent a decision to be made. Draw arrows between each item to better delineate the path.
Continue adding each step to your flowchart until your flowchart represents the entirety of the process. Then add the elongated circle shape to demonstrate completion.
SEEK OUTSIDE OPINIONS
Your chart is nearly finished. But before you put it to use, make sure the flowchart is thorough and comprehensive. Move from step to step and figure out whether you’ve correctly represented the sequence of tasks and decisions. If you’re searching for inefficiencies, ask yourself,
Does this step duplicate work? How can I keep work to a minimum?
Should another step be involved?
Are the right people doing the right jobs?
Finally, take your flowchart to someone you trust and ask if it makes sense. That person should have an outsider’s perspective that can add valuable insight to your diagram.
With Lucidchart, you can easily create professional-looking flowcharts, org charts, and other specialized diagrams, right in a web browser. Try our free trial and see for yourself.