Workflow Diagrams: Definition, Benefits and Types

7 benefits of using a workflow diagram
  • Increased speed. Workflow diagrams can remind team members of the steps they might take in various job processes, which can allow them to work more quickly. …
  • Quality assurance. …
  • Collaboration. …
  • Training. …
  • Standardization. …
  • Workplace satisfaction. …
  • Opportunities for improvement.

Businesses strive to stay ahead of their competition, and to do this, they must be proactive and use the most efficient tools available. A workflow diagram, sometimes referred to as a business process diagram, is an invaluable tool for streamlining and improving processes within companies. By visually representing each step of a workflow, it allows for more efficient communication and collaboration across various departments and stakeholders. It also enables organizations to have a better understanding of how their processes work, and how they can be improved. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the various benefits of using a workflow diagram. We’ll explore how it can help increase productivity, create an organized and efficient workflow, and provide valuable insights into the inner workings of a business. We’ll also cover how a workflow diagram can save time, money, and resources. By implementing a workflow diagram, businesses can discover new ways to optimize processes and gain a competitive edge.

How to Define a Workflow Process – Project Management Training

Why might you use a workflow diagram?

Work that requires a series of actions can benefit from the use of flowcharts. They can be especially useful when the result of one process stage affects the next step. For instance, a customer service representative for an IT help desk might have a workflow diagram outlining the steps to take when a caller has a technical issue. The customer might be asked to restart their device as the first step. If that succeeds, closing the ticket might be the following step in the flowchart. If not, the technician might remotely connect to the device.

What is a workflow diagram?

Workflow diagrams are pictures that typically include arrows, shapes, and labels. These illustrations may show the steps that each team member takes to address a challenge or solve a problem. An illustration of the steps a customer service team takes to serve the clients on their list might be found in a workflow diagram. Some workflow diagrams show a collaborative effort, such as developing a new product. Each step in those diagrams might correspond to a different team member’s responsibilities. A workflow diagram can be made manually or with the aid of a workflow management program.

7 benefits of using a workflow diagram

Here are seven key benefits of using a workflow diagram:

1. Increased speed

Workflow diagrams can serve as a reminder to team members of the steps they may need to take in various job processes, which can speed up work. For instance, a workflow diagram could be used by the checkout staff at a grocery store to remind them to ask customers what type of payment they are using and other important questions. Managers or team leaders may make large versions of the workflow diagram and place them in strategic areas around the workspace to aid team members in working quickly.

2. Quality assurance

When teams perform the same tasks repeatedly throughout the day, using a workflow diagram can help them follow the same procedures each time, maintaining a consistent level of quality. For instance, a customer service team at a gym might have a workflow that outlines how to handle customer complaints. They might begin by hearing what the customers have to say, and then provide a particular incentive to enhance the customer experience. By using the workflow diagram, the customer service team can guarantee that every customer who contacts them receives the same level of service.

3. Collaboration

Workflow diagrams can improve the ability of professionals who collaborate in teams to complete tasks. When managers tailor the documentation to the workflow stages, team members can better understand what their coworkers are doing and assist them. For instance, a colleague might review their documentation and take over for the next step if a customer service representative is unable to speak to one of their clients on a particular day. Since everyone on the team uses the same workflow diagram, the teammate may find it simple to guide the client through the process.

4. Training

For new team members, workflow diagrams can be useful training resources. The workflow diagram’s visual nature can aid new team members in remembering their primary responsibilities. They can also keep a copy of the workflow at their desk to study. For instance, viewing the company’s supply chain management workflow diagram, which outlines the steps of ordering and stocking supplies, might be helpful for a new inventory associate. A new employee can better understand how their work affects other departments and any products the company produces by viewing the workflow of a specific task.

5. Standardization

Using a workflow diagram can guarantee that various teams working within the same department complete crucial tasks in the same sequence. A software company, for instance, might have several development teams, each of which is focused on a different product. The company’s management team can use the workflow diagram to compare the progress of each team using the same scale if they use it to standardize the software development process. The management team can easily move designers and engineers from one team to another with the help of a standardized workflow diagram, which will enable them to maximize staffing on various projects.

6. Workplace satisfaction

By outlining specific expectations for each stage of a task, workflow diagrams can improve workplace satisfaction. Employees may feel more confident in their ability to meet expectations when they are aware of what their managers expect from them. Having more self-assurance can boost an employee’s productivity and motivate them to go above and beyond. Managers can also use workflow diagrams to motivate their teams. They might concentrate on a certain stage of the procedure and request suggestions from the team members on how to make that stage more effective.

7. Opportunities for improvement

Employing a workflow diagram can help managers and team leaders understand the steps necessary to complete a project. They could change the process to make it more productive by outlining the process and examining each step. For instance, a team leader for customer service might time how long it takes each team member to complete a stage of the issue resolution procedure. The lead may create pre-written emails or other automated tools to speed up this process if the customer service team spends the majority of their time writing emails to customers offering them discounts or alternative services.

7 types of workflow diagrams

Because workflow diagrams can be customized, managers and team leads can make visual aids that are appropriate for their work. Here are seven common types of workflow diagrams:

1. Process flowchart

The various phases of a task are displayed in a process flowchart in a sequential order, with arrows designating the direction. The stages are typically displayed in a flowchart vertically, with the first stage at the top and the last stage at the bottom. Blocks of text that describe each stage and assign tasks to various teams or departments may be included in flowcharts. Due to their adaptability, these diagrams can be used effectively in a variety of fields, including manufacturing and professional services.

2. Swimlane diagram

The visual area is segmented into columns by a swimlane diagram, each of which represents a team in charge of a particular task. Each stage’s description is entered into a text box in the column of the team that successfully completes it. Arrows connect the boxes and show the flow direction. When several teams or departments are needed to complete a task, swimlane diagrams can be useful. Using a swimlane diagram, for instance, can help each department understand their role in a strategic project that involves the IT, customer service, and HR departments.

3. American National Standards Institute (ANSI) flowchart

The type and direction of task stages are communicated using symbols created by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in ANSI flowcharts. These flowcharts typically combine brief labels with particular shapes and arrows to give the process more context. For instance, in ANSI flowcharts, decisions are placed in diamond shapes, while activities are placed inside rectangular boxes. A manager or team leader can create a highly visual flowchart that uses fewer words and may be simpler to read quickly by using a common visual language.

4. United Modeling Language (UML) activity diagram

Using standards from the United Modeling Language (UML), UML activity diagrams represent workflow processes. These diagrams may be helpful for computer programming, web development, and other computer system projects because they can also represent computational processes. These diagrams have a special visual language in which particular shapes correspond to various task types. For instance, in UML, black circles signify the start and end of a process, diamonds signify decisions, and bars signify the point where concurrent activities join or split. UML activity diagrams, like many other types of flowcharts, employ arrows to indicate the direction of task stages.

5. SIPOC diagram

A workflow diagram for supply chain management, manufacturing, retail, and other industries is called SIPOC, which stands for suppliers, input, processes, output, and customers. Key details of the manufacturing and shipping processes are presented in this workflow diagram in a single place. SIPOC typically arranges the five categories in columns, but some models have arrows that move between columns. The columns, which map the entire production process, run the length of the page, from “Suppliers” to “Customers.” This tool can map routine work processes and is also beneficial as a project management tool.

6. Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) diagram

Managers and team leads can use BPMN diagrams as workflow tools to examine and enhance business processes. Flow objects, connecting objects, swim lanes, and artifacts are the four categories of elements used in BPMN diagrams, which were created by the Object Management Group. Events or activities are considered flow objects, whereas sequences or connections between events are considered connecting objects. Tasks are divided into departments by swim lanes, and artifacts contain notes or additional information. These diagrams can be useful for illuminating complex workflows and projects.

7. Warehouse flowchart

Inventory stages are detailed in warehouse flowcharts, along with the locations in the warehouse where each stage takes place. This kind of workflow diagram can enable managers to maximize the warehouses’ available space, which can help logistics and shipping professionals perform their jobs more effectively. A diagram of the warehouse’s main workspace with sections labeled for important steps in the inventory maintenance process, such as quality control and staging, might serve as the basis for a flowchart for a warehouse. A typical design for these flowcharts includes arrows that lead the reader through each stage of an item’s lifecycle, from receiving to shipping.

Please note that Indeed is not affiliated with any of the businesses mentioned in this article.


Why is workflow diagram important?

To inform the staff of their duties and the sequence in which the project must be completed, the design team creates a workflow diagram. Additionally, it assists us in identifying the various departments involved in the procedure, and the workflow diagram aids in departmental coordination.

What is the purpose of a workflow plan?

Benefits of workflow management systems
  • Reduced errors. Operating with zero errors is impossible. …
  • Improved connectivity. …
  • Increased productivity. …
  • Redundant manual tasks eliminated. …
  • Multiple tasks juggled easily. …
  • Increased trust, transparency, and control. …
  • Improved work culture.

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