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How to Create a Workflow Diagram

Workflow diagrams, also known as process maps, are an excellent way for companies to understand and improve internal processes. But even the most straightforward processes tend to get complicated over time. If there is no clear direction or coordination, you can begin to see bottlenecks, over or sub utilization of resources, and a lack of efficiency in the process.

When creating a workflow diagram, you need to gather everyone involved in the business process, including directors, managers, analysts, suppliers, and clients, to define what is required for the process to work correctly. This means agreeing on inputs, outputs, steps, estimated times, responsibilities, integrations, and any additional details that need to be specified so the process can be transformed into a visual workflow diagram that is clear and easy for everyone to understand. 

 

The benefits of workflow diagrams

There are multiple benefits when a company decides to organize, structure, and create workflow diagrams to document their business processes, including: 
•    Creating an agile foundation: Having all your processes defined will allow you to react quickly to any unexpected requests in a very agile way

•    Finding and filling the gaps: When you can see the big picture of your processes, it is easier to identify where process improvements can be applied and where existing gaps can be removed

•    Focusing your efforts where they will count the most: When processes are documented, it is quicker to analyze and define where an improvement or automation can introduce more benefits

 

Components of a workflow diagram

Event: There are different types of events. The most common ones are the Start and the End event. The start is green and indicates the beginning of the process and the End is red to indicate where the process finishes. 

Event.png
 
Activities: These are the main component of any workflow and indicate the steps within the process. 

task.png
 

Sequence Flows: These arrows are used to show the flow of the diagram, from one step to another.

sequence flow.png
 
Gateways: These are used to show that a decision needs to be made in order to move on to the next process step. You should indicate different ways to move forward based on the outcome of this decision. The most common option here would be a simple ‘Yes/no’. 
gateway.png

Best practice steps to create a workflow diagram

Now you know the basic symbols, you can put them together in a workflow diagram, also known as a process map. 


STEP 1: Create your pool
Once you have determined which process you want to diagram, open Bizagi Modeler, where a new Pool (the box-shaped element that will contain all process steps) will be displayed as the default. You can set the name of the Pool as the name of your Process with a double click. 

step 1 - default pool.pngDefault Pool created as soon as you open Bizagi 
 

step 2 - pool name.pngPool with Process Name  
 

 

STEP 2: Create lanes and stages in the pool
Identify the actors (represented in the diagram as lanes) and stages (defined in the diagram as milestones) of your process. The idea is to create the entire structure of your process before any elements are included in the diagram. This will make it easy to create the workflow and will avoid ending up with an unintelligible diagram. 

step 2 - lanes.pngProcess Diagram general structure. Lanes and Milestones defined  
 

 

STEP 3: Define the start and end points 
Once the general structure of the pool is defined, start to define every single step of the process. It is highly recommended to create your diagram from top to bottom and from left to right, which makes it easier to read and understand. You should ensure that the start point should be in the left upper corner and an end point in the right bottom corner.

step 3 - start and end.png

Start and End events included in the diagram
 

STEP 4: Define the steps in your process
Now, it is time to define the different activities associated with your process. It is crucial to define a naming convention, so the diagram is clear for everyone in the organization. We recommend that you define activity names to always start with a verb, e.g. ‘approve request’, gateways are always set as questions, and each flow after a gateway has text describing the path’s option. 

step 4 - diagram.png
Complete Process Diagram 

 

Get started and create your own workflow diagrams today by downloading Bizagi Modeler for free. 

If you have more questions about how to perfect your workflow diagrams, visit the Bizagi Community forum where you can ask questions, raise issues and share ideas with our online community over 1 million Bizagi users. 
 

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