How to Build a Flow Chart: Basics and tips to create your own workflow process


What keeps the office operating and whether or not it is efficient is the organization of roles and responsibilities and defined workflow process.  This systematic operation is what defines who does what and how the work gets done and serves as the framework on how an organization performs work.  Now, how do we create a diagram that illustrates the work process?  The most basic tool used is called the Flowchart, the flowchart is a type of diagram that represents a process and shows all the steps and key decision-making areas in a simple chart.

What we will be learning is the key basic elements of a flow chart and what each box represents; afterwards we will apply the basics and create a simple flow chart.

What does each shape represent

Please see figure (1.1) below, this is a basic flowchart and is read from top to bottom and left to right, which is how you will be creating your chart.  We will also examine each shape and what it represents.

Figure 1.1

Terminal/Terminator Shape

Lets start at the top of the chart with the start button.  As you can see, the start button is a circular, rectangle or rounded rectangle shape and is often called the terminal or terminator.  Both the start and end of a flow chart must have a terminator because it signifies the start and end of a process.


The rectangle represents a process, task, action, or operation.   This is usually the most used shape within a flowchart and it helps determine the necessary steps of the process by hierarchy.


The diamond shape represents a decision option which is a “yes or no.” A “yes’ decision will allow the flow process to the next step. A “no” will take you back to your original process (rectangle) or an alternative process (rectangle).


This is a connector symbol, used to connect the flowchart to another page or to the next column  (Please see figure 1.1) and the connection is applied by using the same letters in both circles.


The arrow is what leads you throughout the entire flowchart.  The arrows will take you to each shape and show the necessary steps to achieve the workflow process.  You can also number the arrows if you’d like.  This can help when discussing processes and decisions that are in your flowchart.

Putting it all together

Now that you know what they represent, we can begin creating a flow chart and I will be showing you key steps to do it.

1.     Look at the sample chart for an example of a flowchart

2.     Get familiar with each shape and what they do

3.     Add a terminal at the top of the page

4.     Take an arrow and guide it to a process

5.     Add as many rectangles as it takes until you reach either a decision or the end of your workflow.

6.     Be sure to keep adding arrows to guide readers of your chart

7.     Once you reach the end, add a terminal that signifies the end of the project.

Please take into account that your organization’s process may be more complicated but adjust accordingly and with the information shown here you can create a flowchart that can help define roles and workflow and will help in creating a more efficient system.

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