Flowcharts can be incredibly useful tools for visualizing businesses processes, procedures or systems, but picking the right type is tricky. Learn more about the distinctions between the types of flowcharts and how to choose the right one for your business needs.
Venngage’s Flowchart Maker makes it simple and easy to create visual tools for your organization. With just a few clicks, you can have a professional, effective flowchart design to help with your business communications—no design experience required.
Types of flowcharts:
- What is a flowchart?
- Decision flowchart
- Workflow flowchart
- Swimlane flowchart
- Use case flowchart
- EPC flowchart
- System or program flowchart
- Data or document flowchart
What is a flowchart?
A flowchart (or flow chart) is a diagram that illustrates a process, system or other sequential sets of steps. For this reason, almost all flowcharts can be considered process flowcharts (or process flow diagrams).
Flowcharts are used extensively in the computer programming field, but they can also be a useful way to visualize an organization, a job task or a business process.
Organizations of all types can use flowcharts for both internal and external purposes.
This is an example of an internal-focused flowchart. This basic flowchart can help customer support team members understand the business process involved or what they need to do when there’s an email or phone call from customers.
But flowcharts can also have usefulness as a type of content companies can create, such as this entertaining process flow diagram that helps readers understand whether a nap should be in their future.
For more flowchart examples, visit these posts:
- 21+ Flowchart Examples to Organize Projects and Improve Processes
- 20+ Flow Chart Templates, Design Tips and Examples
Let’s take a look at the different types of flowcharts there are and how you can use the right one for your business communication needs. You will notice that we don’t include process flow diagram as one of the categories, as almost all flowcharts are process flowcharts of some kind.
Among the most immediately recognizable flowcharts, decision flowcharts are somewhat obvious in that they are used to help make decisions in the order they need to be made. Decision flowcharts include “yes” and “no” questions and answers as part of their flow.
Let’s take a look at some decision flowchart examples.
This decision flowchart is quite simple, but it provides an ideal example of the format with the questions that need to be asked and the order in which they should be posed presented clearly.
This decision tree illustrates how a financial services organization handles customer information and what decisions team members need to make depending on the answers they get as they work through the process.
Another one that’s a good example of decision flow charts, this template illustrates a disciplinary process with all possible outcomes properly visualized, helping the reader follow the process more easily.
This decision flowchart illustrates who has decision-making control in an emergency situation, but it could easily be used to visualize any number of processes involving interdepartmental or cross-functional teams.
Help team members understand their role in a broader process by customizing this account escalation process flowchart, which is an excellent example of a decision flowchart.
For more examples of decision flow charts and decision trees, visit our blog posts:
- What is a Decision Tree and How to Make One
- 15+ Decision Tree Infographics to Visualize Problems and Make Better Decisions
Workflow flowchart / Workflow diagram
A workflow flowchart shows decisions and actions that happen inside an organization as part of a work product, project, service or other goals, like fulfilling a customer order. They often show how different roles, teams or departments contribute to the product or service.
This workflow chart illustrates an IT troubleshooting process, but it’s easy to imagine how your organization could update it to help team members understand a process that they are likely to repeat regularly.
A more basic flowchart example, this workflow diagram helps you keep a lengthy project on track by visualizing the steps involved in completing the project.
A swimlane flowchart is a type of workflow diagram that is always cross-functional and illustrates the order in which decisions or actions happen and the relationships between them.
Phases of the workflow are usually read from left to right or top to bottom, and distinct teams are displayed in rows or columns.
This is a good example of this type of cross-functional flowchart:
This swimlane flowchart is a good way to illustrate a complex process in your company that covers data or documents that may enter your organization through a few means but that need to be handled the same way.
Use case flowchart / Use case diagram
A use case diagram or use case flowchart illustrates the goals and interactions a customer has with a company, and it can include both external customers and internal users. One of the main purposes is to show the interactions between the company and external customers.
This use-case flow chart template isolates the major events involved in managing customer relationships, but it could easily apply to any event-based process flowchart that involves multiple organizational levels.
This use-case diagram shows the possible ways in which an ATM could be used, but it would be simple to customize a diagram like this to visualize an event-driven process in your company.
Diagrams like this can be useful when considering making major process changes or adding/removing equipment.
EDP flowchart / EPC diagram
An event-driven process or EDP flowchart (also called an EPC diagram, with EPC standing for event-driven process chain) is similar to a use case flowchart or diagram in that it focuses on customers or users.
But where EDP flowcharts are unique is that they narrow their focus on actions taken by users, which are often illustrated as “events” in the context of a process.
This EPC diagram illustrates the steps involved in an e-commerce purchase, from the time a customer creates a cart on the website to its pickup being scheduled.
System flowchart or program flowchart
System flowcharts and program flowcharts describe how systems and programs function and interact. Some show processes and functions completed by computer systems, while others show how manual, paper, online, and disk drives interact as part of a process, such as how paper applications get input into databases that can then be accessed online.
This is a good example of a system flowchart, although it’s in the form of an infographic. This particular program flowchart illustrates how a payment program processes customer information and finalizes payments.
Data flow diagram or document flowchart
Data flowcharts (also called data flow diagrams) and document flowcharts illustrate how information and data flows within a system. Sometimes information is in documents, though the data in question can also reside within a database or other structure.
This is an example of how a data flowchart looks like:
This data flow diagram describes how data flows within a business process when a customer starts placing an order. Although it’s more of a basic flowchart, the data flow diagram still manages to map all the fundamental stages where the data goes through.
For more details on business process mapping, read our blog post: How to Diagram a Business Process [Process Diagramming Templates]
How do I make a flowchart with Venngage?
Venngage’s Flowchart Maker is simple and easy to use. Within 5 simple steps, you can create a dazzling and functional flowchart to map business processes, organize your team and keep your projects on track. No design experience required.
Step 1: Sign up for a free Venngage account
You can sign up with your email, Gmail or Facebook account.
Step 2: Select a flowchart template from our templates library
Aside from the ones we’ve shared above, we also offer hundreds of others that are easy to edit even if you have no design skills, for any different types of flowcharts there are.
Step 3: Start editing your flowchart with our smart diagram editor
Most of our templates are created with the simple drag-and-drop editor that lets you design in minutes, even if you have no design skills.
We’re also rolling out new smart templates with the smart diagram editor which makes it easy for you to add new nodes/branches to your flow process charts.
You can add, edit, delete or drag nodes, texts, icons around in one click, and the node will automatically adjust to whatever content you add to it as well.
Step 4: Liven up your flowchart with icons, illustrations and branding elements
We offer over 40,000 icons and illustrations for you to visualize any information you want on your flow process chart.
Step 5: Share a public link for free or upgrade to download
Once you upgrade, you can download your flowchart in PNG, PDF, Interactive PDF or PowerPoint format—if you want to use it for your presentation.
In summary: Whatever your organization’s story is, chances are there’s a flowchart type that’s ideal for bringing it to life
Whether you want to help your team members visualize and memorize a new business process, make a crucial executive decision or engage your audience with an entertaining visual, the various types of flowcharts available with Venngage should suit all your needs.
Choose the right flowchart type that fits your business communication needs and start creating one today, using our various detailed flowchart templates and smart diagram editor.