How to Create a Process Map The Easy Way

Process mapping software such as Visio is an option, but not essential.
Process mapping software such as Visio is an option, but not essential. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Process maps use symbols to give a simple visual outline of how a job, task or process should run. But, they can become complicated and hard to follow if you use too many symbols. Stick with a few key symbols -- this makes it easy to create a process map that your audience will understand. You don't need any fancy tools or software and can use post-it notes, a whiteboard, paper or PowerPoint.

Use an elongated oval to denote the beginning and end of a process, showing inputs and outputs. An input can simply mark a start point or it can describe an action or overview. Use an output at the end to show results or to mark the end of the process.

Rectangles should be used for each process step. Add pertinent information inside the rectangles such as what happens at each step, who is completing the task and how long it should take.

Use diamonds for decision points. These diamond decision points should be used any time a process splits and a decision must be made. Annotate the arrow between the diamonds so that readers know which route to follow for any given scenario.

Arrows show the flow from one step to the next. Label arrows with important information such as answers to decision points or which work items are moving.

Tips & Warnings

  • The flow chart should ideally move from the left to the right.

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