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In project management, flowcharts are used to represent a project’s workflow process from beginning to end. The visual depiction allows project stakeholders and team members to gain a quick overview of the steps needed for project completion. Seeing each step laid out gives the audience insight into the workflow process.

Benefits of Project Management Flowcharts

When you’re traveling to an unfamiliar location, a map helps guide the way forward through unknown geography.  

The term ‘process map’ is often used to describe a project management flowchart because it shows the steps needed to move forward on a project. Seeing the process mapped out from start to finish gives the customer and the organization doing the work a better understanding of process flow. It also can help you pinpoint areas for improvement.

These are some benefits of using project management flowcharts:

  • Encourages detailed analysis. Creating a flowchart requires careful analysis of workflow processes by the project manager and the team. Flowchart development often reveals hidden issues and dependencies the project manager can address before the project begins.
  • Clarifies the process. Flowcharts use simple visual elements to show the relationships between process steps in a streamlined manner. The level of complexity depicted in a flowchart can be decided by the flowchart creator.
  • Supports communication. The visual format of a flowchart provides a vastly simplified method for communicating about project processes compared to a detailed written document or video presentation.
  • Helps with resource allocation. A flowchart can help a project manager assign tasks and coordinate task dependencies between team members. It can identify resource shortages before the project is underway.
  • Saves time and resources. Visualizing the workflow process with a flowchart helps cut down on duplicate efforts, unnecessary work, and other forms of waste. 

Basic Flowchart Creation

Flowcharts use a small set of standard shapes. Ovals show the start and end of the process; a rectangle with a descriptive label is used to represent a single step; a diamond represents a decision step. Lines with arrows on one or both ends are used to show the direction of flow from one step or decision to the next.

The easiest way to create a flowchart is to start with a whiteboard or applicable software tool. Sticky notes (electronic, or paper) are helpful for defining steps because you can easily move them around. When the draft flowchart is complete, use digital tools with built-in flowchart shapes to create the final product. For example, Microsoft Word includes predefined shapes and lines for creating flowcharts.

Project Management Flowchart Process

When creating a project management flowchart, begin by defining the project to be diagrammed. Decide on the level of detail in the flowchart, then add start and end boundaries. Think about all the activities required to take the project from start to end and arrange them in the correct sequence. Use lines and arrows to show the process flow from step to step. For complicated projects, the flowchart may extend to several pages.

Before creating the final version, review the chart with project stakeholders and team members. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to represent the workflow process with a project management flowchart. The most important consideration is including all critical steps. Aside from that, the design of the chart and the level of detail are up to you. 

Project managers can’t expect a high-quality deliverable if they don’t understand every step of the process to get there. Analyzing and understanding each step and deciding where it belongs in the process flow gives a project manager more control over the eventual outcome. A recent PMI survey reported that 12% of projects failed in 2021. Planning in advance and using a well-designed project flowchart can help keep your projects from failing. As Thomas Edison said, “Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.”

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