Sometimes your usual ways of working might not be enough, it might not reap the results you want or fail to fulfill the demands of the stakeholders the way they want. In times like these, all you need is a workflow diagram.
Sometimes having a simple workflow diagram might be the answer you are so desperately looking for Having the whole layout laid in front of you is more miraculous than you would ever think. It is an efficient solution that can cater to all your needs.
Despite what you may think, creating a workflow diagram is not as complex or expensive as you would think. In fact, it is simple, cost-effective, and time-efficient. You can successfully eliminate all your problems by simply learning how to create a workflow diagram.
With this post, we aim to arm you with all the info you will need when creating a workflow diagram of your own. However, before we dive into the details of how to create a workflow diagram, let us look at the basics.
What Is a Workflow Diagram?
A workflow diagram is a graphical representation of your project. It displays all the details related to the project such as the tasks, resources, time duration, etc. It is a visual representation of your project’s timeline.
The diagram charts the whole process from the very start till the end with all the details clearly mentioned to make sure everyone has a firm grasp on the requirements of the project and how the process will flow.
Workflow chart, diagram, or map offers a big picture of the project- an overview of how all the tasks will move along the chain. Each step ahead leads you closer to the accomplishment of your end goals.
Creating a workflow diagram is a very systemized and organized way of going about your project. Not only can you highlight all the essential steps, but you can also assign resources, add descriptions, deadlines, milestones, to-do lists, etc. to your workflow to make it more thorough.
The first and foremost important goal of creating a chart is to bring everyone on the team on the same page, help them understand their roles and responsibilities in the project, and clarify the goals you wish to achieve by the end of the project.
Having a chart means you have already planned out everything and are ready to fight any difficulties that pose a threat to your progress.
Types Of Workflow Diagrams:
A workflow diagram uses shapes and symbols to highlight different tasks, assignees, and how each task will be completed from start to finish. Having a graphical representation in front of you can dramatically change the ways you and your teamwork.
Now, a workflow diagram is not of a single kind nor is there a ‘right’ way of creating your own workflow, in fact, there are multiple variations of workflow diagrams, and you can pick and choose the one that suits your organization best. Here are a few of the most noteworthy types of diagrams:
- UML (Unified Modeling Language) Activity: UML activity is usually used in software development processes; it showcases different tasks in the process in sequential order.
- Swimlane Diagram: Swimlane Diagram shows how different departments interact with one another. It highlights the tasks that are common in different departments and is a great way f identifying bottlenecks in the process.
- Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN): BPMN is a more technical way of charting your project timeline. It makes it easy for the senior stakeholders to understand the details of the project at a single glance.
- American National Standards Institution (ANSI) Diagram: ANSI Diagram is the most commonly used type of workflow diagram. It uses symbols approved by the American National Standards Institution, hence the name.
- Basic Flow Diagram: Basic Flow Diagram uses simple symbols to showcase the chronological sequence of tasks or just simpler workflows.
- Value Stream Diagram: A Value Stream Diagram shows the flow of information to produce goods or provide more value to the end-users. It is basically a lean Management Technique used for identifying bottlenecks and removing risks in the process.
Once you have picked and chosen a specific type of diagram that goes well with the working of your organization, you should probably learn a bit more about all the elements that will eventually help you create the diagram.
Don’t worry, we will get to creating a workflow diagram pretty soon, we just want to make sure you have everything you need to get you started.
What Are the Essential Components of a Workflow Diagram?
There are three basic components of a workflow diagram:
- Input: Input includes all the things you need for the process from the beginning till the end. It includes materials, resources, tools, finances, etc.
- Transformation: Transformations are the changes produced by the input. The changes push the process towards the output.
- Output: Outputs are the results obtained after the transformation of inputs. The output obtained could be the end product or the input for the next step in the process.
Everything that goes on in a project can be converged to these three basics, but the process can be quite convoluted with a lot branching out. Besides the basics, there might be other components involved, such as:
- Tasks: All the activities that will go on in the project from starting with the inputs to obtaining the outcomes.
- Sequence: The sequence of things helps understand how tasks will be ordered in a sequence if any tasks are dependent on each other, etc.
Depending on the complexity of the project and the requirement of your organization, the components may include a variety of other things, but the basics can be, once again, narrowed down to the three mentioned above.
Let us now get to the main section of our post i.e., how to create a workflow diagram.
How To Create a Workflow Diagram?
Creating a workflow chart for your project involves six basic steps and, believe us when we say this, it is no hard science. Just follow these steps and you will have yourself a perfectly functional and efficient workflow:
1. Identify The Type of Workflow Best Suited to Your Needs:
The first step in the process is identifying the type of diagram that will be the best choice for you, your team members, stakeholders, and everyone else involved in the process. See whether you need a simpler diagram so that everyone understands it, or do you need a complex one that can satisfy the stakeholders’ questions.
It is important to remember who will be ultimately using the diagram because you want to make sure that these people understand every bit of it otherwise it will only complicate the process even more than it already is.
2. What Are the Starting and Ending Points of The Workflow Diagram?
Remember workflow charts or diagrams are here to help you sort out everything. What good will they be if they are just as random as anything else on your desk? To organize the diagram and actually make something good out of it, you have to pinpoint the starting and ending points of the diagram.
These nodes will help everyone determine how and when the process starts, what triggers it and how and when will it end, and the determining factors that will mark its end.
3. Gather All the Information You Need:
When you step into the battlefield, you have to be fully armed to take on any challenges that hinder your way. The business world is nothing less of a battle and to be fully armed to fight any challenges, you need to have all the information you need to create the best, most efficient diagram to guide you through.
The best way of gathering all the information would be to hold a meeting with all the individuals involved, seek the experience of your seniors, listen to the opinions of your juniors, ask for input from the stakeholders, skim through similar projects in the past and engage people from other departments to carve out the best path.
With all the information you eventually gather, you might be able to create something completely new or find a successful use case that fits your requirements. It will also prepare you to fight the bottlenecks that might show up later.
4. Get Rid of All Inefficiencies:
Before you actually start with the visualization of the diagram, identifying inefficiencies and getting rid of them will be very much in your favor. You wouldn’t want to encounter an unexpected obstacle while working smoothly. To eliminate any such occurrences, it will be better if you prepare yourself beforehand.
To do so, you can list all the possible inefficiencies you might encounter and devise strategies to fight them. This is so that when you actually come across any such difficulty, you can immediately fight it lest it affects your work in any way.
5. Start Creating Your Workflow:
This is probably the most exciting part of the process i.e., creating the workflow. You already have everything you need; all you need to do now is to create the actual diagram.
This is the step where you will utilize all the information you gathered previously will be used. You can carve out the map manually, on paper, or use a designated tool to create the diagram for you. No matter what you choose, in the end, you will have your very own personalized diagram.
6. Keep Reviewing and Updating:
Change is the only constant in the world and there is no denying that not even in the business world. Your workflow diagram is not a fixed document, it needs to be reviewed every step of the way and updated as and when the need arises.
You might have to make a lot of changes or none at all, no matter what happens, keeping an eye on the workflow will prove fruitful since you can make changes whenever necessary, change the course of events and turn your project on the right track that is if it needs to be. If it doesn’t, you can enjoy a relaxed day with no burdens at all.
Using A Workflow Management Software to Curate Your Own Charts:
We understand that creating things from scratch is not everyone’s cup of tea. While some of us might want to go the extra mile, others would like to make things simpler, easier, and more fun and that is exactly why workflow management software is here in the business.
A workflow management software, such as nTask, is a dedicated tool designed to help you with creating and optimizing your workflows, automating recurring tasks, identifying areas of improvement, and much more.
These tools are equipped with the latest features so that you can easily create your own workflow without having to go to lengths that you would otherwise have to. nTask, for example, offers Kanban Boards, Gantt charts along with multiple viewing options. Not only that, but it also notifies you and keeps you updated on the latest developments in the process.
Moreover, it keeps track of processes, makes information sharing as easy as ABC, and much more. Plus, it’s not in the least bit expensive, in fact, it might just be the best investment you ever do for your business.
Manage Project Workflows With nTask
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So, what are you waiting for? Sign up for nTask or a workflow management software of your choice and enjoy worry-free days.
On that note, we will be signing off.