Workflow Diagrams: Quick Guide With Examples

If you’ve ever felt that things in your company are confusing, messy or inefficient, perhaps it’s time to get things organised.

And a workflow diagram might just do the trick. Check it out:

  1. What is a workflow diagram?
  2. Workflow diagram examples
  3. How to create a workflow chart?
  4. Don’t just create a workflow diagram, automate it!

What is a workflow diagram?

A workflow diagram is a flowchart that displays the flow of a business process. It maps out the tasks needed to finish a process in sequence, and indicates which employees are involved at each step.

Mapping out your process in a workflow chart helps you to plan and visualise your processes. This is great for:

  • Identifying inefficiencies – At a glance, you will get to understand which aspects of your process has room for greater productivity
  • Standardising tasks –  Determine who and what should be done at each step to ensure consistency at work
  • Providing a big picture – Allows various employees & departments to see how they fit into the process

In other words, if you’d like to have everyone on the same page, or discover new solutions to optimise your processes, crafting a workflow diagram is a good way to start.

Workflow diagram examples

With plenty of business processes in every company, which should you create a workflow diagram for?

According to the definition of workflows – a series of sequential, repetitive steps needed to finish a process, workflow diagrams are most effective for processes that have a standard protocol. Doesn’t matter if it’s a HR or finance process, you’ll be able to put it into a workflow diagram all the same. 

Here’re some workflow diagram examples:

  • Hiring workflow diagram
  • Invoice management workflow diagram

How to create a workflow chart?

If you already have an existing workflow, you should conduct a workflow analysis prior to creating the flowchart. 

Workflow analysis means to examine your workflow, and look for areas of inefficiencies that can be further improved.

Otherwise, start by asking yourself — what am I trying to achieve with this workflow? It’s important to consider the goal of your process, so that you’d be able to formulate the following thoughts more easily:

1. Determine the workflow’s start and end point

Workflows usually start with the generation of data. So the first step can be the submission of a business form, a proposal, an employee request etc.

2. Map out the steps in the process

Brainstorm the tasks needed in this process and order them in sequence.

When creating a workflow diagram, you can consider using multiple symbols to represent different tasks. These are common symbols that are used in flowchart creators:

  • Oval — Start & end of the process
  • Rectangle — A task to be completed by an employee
  • Arrow — Points to the next task in sequence
  • Diamond — A decision to be made. In a typical approval task, the diamond leads to 2 outcomes (approved or rejected), thereby splitting the workflow into different pathways.
3. Define the task and employee involved at each step

Standardise each step with specific details. You can also talk to your employees to get their input, and refine the that tasks you’ve set for them.

4. Consider alternative scenarios and conditions

At some point, your workflow chart may have to split into various paths due to specific circumstances. So remember to consider different scenarios and create different plans for them — e.g. if the manager rejects this proposal idea, what’s next?

5. Use a digital flowchart creator

Just like typical flowcharts, workflow diagrams can be drawn by hand. But you can make your life easier by utilising digital flowchart creators. Here’s a list:

  • LucidChart
  • Miro
  • Smartdraw
  • Zen Flowchart
  • Figma

Don’t just create a workflow diagram, automate it

With all that said, a workflow diagram is going to have limited practical benefits if it’s only done for a visual purpose. 

But with a workflow management software, not only will you get to create and view workflow diagrams, but automate and execute them in reality.

It sounds crazy, but it’s simpler than you think. Many workflow management software are no-code today, meaning you don’t need any technical coding knowledge to design or automate workflow diagrams. Take a look at Forma’s drag-and-drop workflow builder below:

So if you’re keen to make better use of workflow diagrams, try it with a workflow management software like Forma for free.