How to Create Free Flow Chart Templatesby Michelle Brunet
Flowcharts are visual representations of the steps involved in a process and are composed of rectangles, diamonds, ovals and other shapes connected via arrows. They may be used in a variety of sectors, including in business to demonstrate the processing, manufacturing and delivery of a product and in an engineering lab to define the procedure on how to test a new design. Flowcharts may also help you make decisions to determine what the next step is. When designing your flowchart template, divide the process into core steps and do not overcomplicate the format. It must be user friendly across the board.
Look at flowchart templates online to get an idea of what they look like (see Resources). You can choose from several forms of templates. You can choose a single-chain, where all steps are already determined. Another form involves several branches, where yes or no decisions are made along the way. Some flowcharts loop back, meaning that the process is continuous. Decide on a style that fits the process you will be charting.
Brainstorm about the different steps involved in the process you will be charting. For example, if you are painting your house, cleaning all wall surfaces may be the first step. The second step may be asking the question "Is the old paint flaking?" From this shape, you could draw two arrows, one for "yes" and one for "no," each leading to a new shape with the correct measure to take based on the response.
Open up a new document in your computer's word processing or spreadsheet program after you have finished brainstorming and mapping out your flowchart. Certain programs are specifically used for creating flowcharts, such as Microsoft Office Visio. In your word processing or spreadsheet document, find the "Insert Shapes" option. (Microsoft Word and Excel have a flowchart shape subcategory.) Insert the starting shape for your flowchart. This is usually denoted by a lozenge (oval or rectangle with rounded corners). Connect this shape to the next with an arrow or several arrows if a choice is involved.
Use standard flowchart shapes or create your own scheme. Edraw Soft states that rectangles are used for process steps, diamonds are used for decisions, a rectangle with a swivel at the bottom denotes when someone needs to write a document and a parallelogram represents the input or output of data. A lozenge is also used for the last step of a flowchart.
Test your completed flowchart to make sure you have included all necessary steps. Think of a hypothetical situation and run it through the flowchart or ask a colleague to provide you with feedback. After you have made all final edits, save the file as a template.
- photo_camera business flow chart orange image by Nicemonkey from Fotolia.com