How to Make Steps on a Flowchart

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Example of a simple flowchart
Example of a simple flowchart (Image: Image by Heidi Wiesenfelder)

Flowcharts are effective tools for business managers. They provide information about how a process works, where inefficiency is occurring, and where improvements are feasible. They can even be used to chart a process that is being created. Flowcharts can be made using basic computer software. Each type of step is symbolized by a specific shape, and each step in the process being charted is represented with a shape and brief description. Steps are connected using arrows showing the direction in which the process flows.

Select a software program to use. Microsoft Visio offers advanced features, but a simpler program such as Word or PowerPoint will do just fine.

Create the starting point in your flowchart, at the upper left of the page. Start and end points are represented with an oval or rounded rectangle shape.

Draw each regular action step in the process as a rectangle. Label each one with a brief description of the step, such as "Turn on copy machine."

Designate a decision point using a diamond shape. It will then lead to at least two other shapes, representing the steps that will follow based on the decision or condition. For instance, a call to a customer service center may go to a live agent or to a recording depending on whether an agent is available. Label the arrows connecting this step to the next steps, showing the decision or condition that applies.

Example of a decision point step
Example of a decision point step

Add the end point at the end, usually at the bottom right of the page, using the same symbol you used for the starting point.

Connect the steps with arrows showing the flow of the process. Remember to incorporate your decision points and show how they lead to multiple possible next steps.

Review the flowchart and if necessary add any steps you have missed.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't worry if you forget a step and need to add it later. You can just move the existing steps to make space for the one you need to add. Once you have learned how to add basic types of steps to your flowchart, you can learn how to add less common steps such as documentation and communication steps.

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