Important Details A Flowchart Template Must Include

Flowcharting is a systematic way to map out how anything operates to monitor inefficiencies, identify opportunities for improvement, and streamline the process. Companies often use flowcharts when developing new software or processes for their organization. Flowcharts are also invaluable when training employees on how something works because it shows them step-by-step what they are supposed to do in any given situation.

Whether you are building a flowchart for your purposes or creating one for someone else, the key is including the right information in it. Here are ten details that should be included within any quality flow chart template:

Flowchart Nomenclature

The first thing you need to make clear in your flow chart sample template is what the various symbols and terminology mean. This is essential for two reasons:  First, the person viewing the chart flow template needs to know how it works so they can properly interpret it; and second, someone who has never seen your particular terminology before will have no idea what you are talking about unless you clearly define it.

The symbols used to indicate specific types of information within a process flow chart template or an organizational flow chart template need to be recognizable and distinct from one another – typically, different lines and arrows will be used for different purposes. It is also helpful if you label the steps in order as they appear along the path. This way, your viewers know exactly what is going on at any given point in time – this reduces confusion and miscommunication.

Source: Venngage

Flowchart Layout

If you are building a flowchart from scratch, it needs to be planned out carefully before you begin drawing shapes and adding lines. In many cases, companies use different types of software to put together and generate flowcharts – although there is no industry standard for the layout.

By default, flowcharts are read from left to right just as you would read a sentence written in English. The first step or numbered box should be at the far left of your chart and subsequent steps should be laid out as they follow one another.

Information Within Each Box/Shape

Each flowchart box or shape is going to be dedicated to a specific type of information – you can’t just put everything in them and expect it to make sense. Think about the overall goal of your process flow diagram and then only include those things that pertain directly to that goal.

Some steps may require more information than others – such as additional lines and arrows that represent the order of operations. It is important to clearly label what belongs in each box and exactly how it should be used together. A good rule of thumb is to use no more than six or seven symbols within a single shape – if you need more, you may need multiple shapes on your sample flow chart template.

Source: Venngage

Connecting Arrows & Lines

The lines and arrows you use to connect the boxes are going to be especially important in a flowchart template because they represent the path that data or the process is taking from one step to another. For that information to be useful, your viewers need to understand when something moves from one step to the next, what happens in between those steps, and how that impacts the overall process.

You may need to include additional lines that represent sub-steps or branch paths (such as multiple arrows for different possibilities). However, these should only be used when necessary to make your diagram easier to follow – because too many arrows can also become confusing.

Lines, Shapes, and Fonts

A flowchart template only works if it is easy to read and interpret – which means that both the lines and shapes you use must be properly sized and legible from a distance. In addition, each of these elements needs to have a different color so they can easily stand apart from one another.

The lines you use should be thicker than the shapes (and their connecting arrows) – this helps to make it more obvious that they are different elements. The fonts used for the labels and titles of each box or shape also need to be distinct so they can be differentiated from one another even if the font is not readily visible.

If you need an online tool that can provide you with a wide variety of options for your flow chart template, check out Venngage. 

Clear Labeling and Titles

Each step that you include on your flowchart should be clearly labeled as to what it is and what process or data element it represents. This will help people understand the overall goal of your diagram at a glance, which in turn makes it easier for them to quickly take in all of the information included within each particular step.

Don’t forget to include a title for the flowchart itself – this tells viewers what the chart is trying to explain and automatically emphasizes its overall purpose. This way, even if individual steps do not make sense on their own, they will at least be appropriate in the context of the entire diagram.

In addition, make sure you label your diagram as to whether it is at the beginning, end, or somewhere within the middle of the overall process. This will make it clear when something occurs and how that impacts everything else included on your chart.

In Summary

A flowchart template is a great way to quickly explain and visualize your thought process. The more easily digestible information that goes into making a good one, the better. For that, here are tips on how to do it right!

Adam Hansen