Workflow diagrams visually represent a business process, project, or job. They show the various tasks and steps needed to complete the process from start to finish. Workflow diagrams are a type of flowchart designed specifically for business processes and workflows.
Workflow diagrams are linear and chronological, helping you see the steps for a process in the correct order, featuring specific symbols and shapes to further define what is needed for each step. Common elements of a workflow diagram include:
Knowing these symbols and shapes is essential to reading and understanding a workflow diagram, following the path, and reaching the correct endpoint.
|Lines and arrows||Connect different shapes and actions and lead you through the workflow.|
|Diamonds||Represent key decision points.|
|Circles||Represent a jump in actions and/or a place to skip over certain steps in some situations.|
|Rectangles||Represent actions or steps.|
|Ovals||Represent start and end points of the process.|
There are a few different types of workflow diagrams to choose from when you need to create a visualization of a process. Each option is unique, with different ideal use cases. Review the five most common types of workflow diagrams below to decide which type is the best fit for your needs.
Unified Modeling Language—UML—is a modeling language in the field of software engineering. Software developers use UML activity diagrams to describe and map the activities and actions within a system.
Business Process Modeling Notation—BPMN—is another modeling language and standard for diagramming business processes. BPMN and UML are similar regarding practical applications, and both are used heavily within IT and business functions.
SIPOC stands for Supplier-Input-Process-Output-Customer. With a SIPOC diagram, you can document and track business processes as well as vendors, resources, materials, products, and end users. SIPOC diagrams are useful for things like business development projects and product launches.
A swimlane diagram is a type of diagram that delineates who is responsible for each step in the process. Each person involved in the process has a "lane" of actions they're responsible for. These lanes, resembling the lanes in a swimming pool, provide additional clarity and ensure all project participants understand their roles and responsibilities. Swimlane diagrams are popular among project managers.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) oversees standards for products, services, processes, systems, and personnel in the United States. ANSI flowcharts feature a standardized layout and symbols that make them universally readable for anyone familiar with the ANSI style.
Workflow diagrams are powerful tools for process documentation and workflow management. Some common workflow diagram use case examples include:
Workflow diagrams are ideal for recording supply chain and logistics information. With a combination of flowchart lines and symbols, you can map a product's journey from raw materials and manufacturing to packaging, distribution, and beyond.
Project managers use workflow diagrams to show the steps of a project and assign tasks to different contributors. Workflow diagrams provide a valuable visual reference for a project timeline, keeping everyone accountable and on track.
Sales teams use workflow diagrams to map their outbound sales workflows. The workflow diagram format can help salespeople organize opportunities, track potential leads, and cultivate existing customer relationships.
IT professionals and cybersecurity specialists use workflow diagrams to map system information, document security measures, and execute cyber incident response protocols. Workflow visualization helps technology experts streamline and automate processes within highly technical systems and programs.
Workflow diagrams are commonly used within healthcare settings to document intake flows, emergency procedures, and other standard protocols. When used for establishing standard procedures, workflow diagrams help create a safer, more efficient workplace for staff and a better patient care experience.
Workflow diagrams help you visualize the different steps in a business process. Some key benefits of workflow diagrams include:
When you create a workflow diagram, you have to sit down and consider every single step in a process. As you get the full picture of what is needed to complete the process, you'll be able to see redundancies and unnecessary steps more clearly. Once you eliminate those inefficiencies, you'll be left with a more streamlined and productive workflow.
It's hard to avoid siloing, especially when a project involves contributors from different teams or departments. Workflow diagrams help everyone understand how their role contributes to the overall project and desired outcomes.
A workflow diagram can lay out the exact steps needed to progress toward future goals. Seeing the path to success laid out visually helps unify and motivate everyone involved.
Identifying and fixing weak points within a long-standing process or workflow can be challenging. By using a workflow diagram to map out each step in a process, you can easily isolate and repair inefficiencies and eliminate roadblocks. Sometimes, simply rearranging or reallocating certain tasks makes the whole workflow more effective.
To make a basic workflow diagram, follow these simple steps:
With a workflow diagram software like MindManager, mapping your workflows is quicker and easier than ever. Key features of MindManager include:
MindManager is for anyone with problems to solve and tasks to complete—across any industry, department, or role. With MindManager, you can intuitively gather all relevant information in one place and organize it in a dynamic, visual way.
MindManager comes pre-installed with workflow diagram templates. To use these templates:
A workflow diagram is a flowchart intended to visualize processes and workflows. Flowcharts can also be used to visualize things like software systems and computer programs.
The basic symbols used in a workflow diagram are ovals, rectangles, circles, diamonds, and lines or arrows. The different symbols help users understand how to read and follow the steps in a workflow diagram.
Workflow diagrams are used to visualize business processes, projects, or jobs. They provide a framework for documenting each step of a process, helping you see both the big picture and the finer details simultaneously.
With different types of workflow diagrams to choose from, professionals in IT, logistics, sales, healthcare, and other industries use them to visualize processes and boost their team's productivity.
MindManager features powerful, dynamic workflow diagram templates to help you document and streamline your key processes. To make your first workflow diagram, try MindManager today.