Your guide to making the most of project management flowcharts
By: Leanne Armstrong
Flowcharts are fantastic project management tools. They can help you map out complex processes, manage your tasks systematically, and present workflows in a visual way that everyone on your team can understand.
If you don’t already, you’ll soon find that working with software-based project management flowcharts is a snap. All you need to start taking advantage of the benefits they offer is this go-to guide for making the most of flowchart diagrams in the very next project you manage.
How flowcharts work – and why we get so excited about them
What’s so exciting about flowcharts?
Not only do they make it easy to visualize all manner of work processes and project workflows, they provide a common language that improves team alignment. And we think that alone is well worth shouting about.
But there’s more.
Using a flowchart to diagram and document your project visually allows you to:
- Illustrate the sequence of tasks required for its completion
- Highlight potential workflow issues
- Uncover areas where efficiency, quality, or output can be improved
Better still, project management flowcharts are easy to create.
You simply use a standardized collection of symbols and shapes to display each step in your project or process, then connect them with arrows indicating workflow direction. Once complete, your flowchart is ready to help you and your team analyze, amend, and carry out specific project plans and objectives.
Using project management flowcharts to plan your workflow or process
As a project manager, you may very well have a methodology of choice for leading your team through assignments.
The great thing about building a project management flowchart template is that it makes any management technique more effective by letting you outline parallel or interdependent workflows over the course of your project’s life cycle.
For example, when you know that managing your project is going to mean getting from Point A to Point Z in several areas, flowcharts let you visually map out the steps or tasks represented by Points B through Point Y.
You can then flesh out those maps with:
- Brief descriptions of each step;
- Indicators for pivotal decision-making points in each process; and
- Links to project resources that provide greater context.
Project management flowcharts play an invaluable role in both the planning stage of a mission and for illustrating the various work processes that take your project through to completion and closure.
Project planning flowcharts
Even the most basic flowchart will streamline the planning phase of your project.
Consider what happens, for example, when you have the means to visually position and describe the steps for creating a brand-new business process, product, or service.
With very little effort, you suddenly enable a shared understanding of the (sometimes complex) work involved that’s guaranteed to ease collaboration across teams or departments.
Creating a shared project management flowchart template will also help you:
- Improve team task management. MindManager’s flowchart creator makes it easy to display all the actions necessary to complete project-related tasks in the most practical sequence.
- Craft a risk management strategy. Because they aid visualization of your project as a whole, using flowcharts as part of the planning process lets you pinpoint potential workflow disruptions in advance.
Although project management flowcharts don’t typically display the time intervals associated with different project stages or tasks, they’re perfectly designed to work with other powerful visualization tools like interactive Gantt charts and timelines.
Project management process flowcharts
As graphical representations of workflows, flowcharts are ideal for outlining project processes as individual steps.
In fact, creating a template for your project management process flowchart will help your team:
- Clearly see the flow of work that needs to be accomplished during each phase of your current project
- Work their way more efficiently through the planning stages of future projects
- Explain concepts and communicate more effectively by doing away with technical jargon along the way
MindManager’s project management process flowcharts do more than just help you outline a process, however. They let you get the most from it by adding context through colors, images, notes, icons, tags, and attachments.
How to create a flowchart for your next project
Pre-installed project management flowchart templates make it easy to plan and execute a flawless work mission in MindManager.
All you have to do to get started is:
- Click NEW in the Navigation Menu.
- Choose the flowchart template or blank template you want to use.
- Select Create Map.
- Customize the template for your project.
Built-in diagramming features then let you tailor the flowchart to your specific process or workflow and enhance it for optimal visualization.
Follow these 4 steps to create a simple, software-based project management flowchart. This example was created using the blank Flow Chart template in MindManager.
Step 1: List the individual tasks or steps in your project or process
Be sure to build out these steps by brainstorming with your team and recording the key details for each.
Step 2: Set up your flowchart
- Create a main topic containing a keyword or description to serve as your starting point.
- Link the main topic to sub-topics, or project steps, in order using directional arrows to indicate the flow of work.
- Create an ending topic containing a keyword or description to mark the end of your workflow.
Step 3: Apply tags or icons.
Tags and icons let you group and categorize the individual steps in your process, so you can:
- Assign specific project resources to each task and show who’s accountable.
- Add relevant attachments to provide additional details about individual steps.
Step 4: Create topics and sub-topics to highlight project milestones
By indicating where a decision or deliverable is required in your workflow, you can modify your flowchart as needed by adding arrows that extend out from your diamonds to show:
- New steps resulting from decisions made.
- New objectives based on results achieved.
This is a very simple example of what can be accomplished using flowcharts for project management. As projects become larger and more complex, there will usually be a variety of simultaneous touch points, tasks, and decisions to be made.
Flowcharting your project management process allows you to identify all potential tasks, scenarios, and bottle necks in advance of project kick off, allowing you to make fast and informed decisions should issues arise.
Making the most of your new project flowchart
MindManager’s project management flowchart software lets you view and share the diagram you’ve just created in multiple ways.
For example, you can switch views and visualize your task, workflow, or process steps by priority, by resource, or by any of the tags or icons you’ve applied. Or, you can switch views to view your project as a Gantt chart, or as a Kanban board.
For a detailed overview of how to create, manage, and track project resources using MindManager, watch this webinar titled “Project Cost Tracking and Enhanced Gantt with MindManager 2020”.
You can also conveniently share your flowchart with team members, decision-makers, and stakeholders by:
- Exporting it into formats like Microsoft Word, Microsoft Project, and HTML5
- Publishing it online, sharing a link, and allowing everyone involved to open, view, and interact with your flowchart diagram
MindManager is ideal for making the most of project management flowcharts in the way that best suits your needs.
You can keep these visualization tools simple by using the software’s flowcharting mode to add and connect consecutive steps in a process.
Or you can move beyond the basics and take advantage of advanced functionality to turn your flowchart into a mighty communication and execution tool for your next team project.