Agile teams need flexible tools to keep projects on track. Virtual templates are one of these tools. Many project templates are narrow and focused by design. They guide users through a structured diagram with predetermined fields. For some project steps, though, teams need a freeform tool. This is where the Flowchart template helps.
A good flowchart breaks a process down into all its decisions and actions. In this way, making a flowchart is a lot like writing a simple computer program. Like programming code, flowcharts follow a logical progression of inputs and outputs. Flowchart decision points ask simple questions to trigger a set of options. Arrows point to the possible outcomes: “If yes, then A; if no, then B.” Flowcharts map the dependencies of any process and define the order of operations.
The Flowchart template in Whiteboards streamlines this mapping process and the actions that follow it. Our unique two-way Jira integration creates Jira issues right from your completed diagram. Build out your flowchart in the template, then convert any step to a Jira issue. Assign Jira attributes and deliver tasks to users in a couple of clicks. All new issues appear instantly in Jira. Users receive their assigned tasks immediately. Import Jira issues and update them on the whiteboard, and these changes also sync instantaneously with Jira. Updates in Jira also appear automatically on the whiteboard.
Streamline your business workflow with the Flowchart template and two-way Jira integration. Sign up for a free Whiteboards account today, and keep reading for tips on how to get the most out of the Flowchart template.
Why use a flowchart template?
Flowcharts are a flexible diagramming tool. Use them to refine any part of a project into a logical series of steps. Organizations use flowcharts to visualize and communicate a wide range of operations. A flowchart template can map any business process:
- Break down a smaller user story into concrete tasks.
- Understand how data flows through a software system.
- Plan your next corporate event.
- Engineer a new product prototype.
- Visualize the steps and dependencies in your order fulfillment process.
- Create an easy-to-follow protocol for addressing workplace safety incidents.
Whatever the application, a flowchart visually communicates a clear process to other stakeholders. It presents them with a logical series of decision points and their outcomes. It keeps everyone aware of the nuts and bolts of the operation at hand.
What are the benefits of a flowchart?
Flowcharts bring clarity to many types of processes. They help your team organize workflow logically, from brainstorming to implementation to retrospectives. A single flowchart can serve as a roadmap through multiple project stages:
- Planning: Lay your strategy out step by step before launching a project or implementing a process. Visualize your plan and all its dependencies in one map.
- Optimization: Work through existing problems and anticipate possible roadblocks before they arise. Identify solutions quickly to avoid project management bottlenecks.
- Documentation: Present an accessible process map to other stakeholders. Create a common visual reference point for a one-time project or an ongoing process.
- Evaluation: Simplify retrospectives and process checkpoints with flowchart diagrams. Easily pinpoint strengths and weaknesses in past processes to improve future ones.
It’s often easy to leverage a flowchart as a living document. Detours will arise, and side routes will need to be explored. Add these into your journey as you go. The flowchart keeps each added stop connected back to the main route.
The Flowchart template is a freeform diagramming tool. With all this flexibility, it’s important to keep your flowchart properly structured. Get the fundamentals down first to make sure your flowcharts are streamlined and useful.
Standard flowchart shapes and their uses
Following a standard format helps you create diagrams all stakeholders can understand. You can always adapt the template to your individual needs. Just start with the basics to keep things consistent. The most common flowchart elements are universally recognized:
- Ovals (or rounded rectangles) are the start and finish points of the process. There is usually one starting point and often multiple finish points.
- Diamonds are the decision points. They commonly take the form of a binary question, most often with a yes/no answer. Each answer creates a corresponding arrow pointing from the diamond to the next step or decision point.
- Rectangles are the process steps. A rectangle can describe the consequence of the previous step. It can also just be the logical next action in the sequence. It does not include a decision, so it only has one arrow coming out of it.
- Arrows are also called “connectors” or “flow lines.” They connect all the shapes in the diagram. They map process dependencies by showing the flow of all your decisions and steps.
- Other shapes are up to you. Users often depict documents, databases, and many other elements in the flow of a process. Tailor flowcharts to your team’s needs using Whiteboards’ built-in library of shapes and symbols.
The Whiteboards tools palette is robust. You can customize the Flowchart template to your organization and even individual projects. You can also import images and art to use in the chart. The infinite-plane whiteboard provides space for any flowchart to expand as necessary.
Flowchart best practices
With a wide array of options, it’s important to follow some key guidelines. As you create new flowcharts, keep these best practices in mind:
- Set an appropriate scope. Sprawling flowcharts become confusing. If you create a flowchart for an entire epic, add placeholders for individual user stories. Then map each user story on its own flowchart to keep your work focused and manageable.
- Work in one direction. Keep your flowchart branching off in one general direction. Most Western written languages flow left to right and top to bottom. Follow these intuitive mental pathways when creating a flowchart. Start on the left and work right, or start at the top and work downwards.
- Keep decision points binary. Break your process decisions down into yes/no options where possible. Let’s say you’re mapping a software program signup process. Your customer might use your software on a mobile device or various desktop browsers. These create a number of possible next steps. For simplicity, the first decision point asks “Is the customer on a phone/tablet?” The “yes” arrow then leads to a second diamond that asks “Is it an iPhone/iPad?” and so forth.
- Maximize visual clarity. Assign each shape its own color and keep that shape the same size throughout the chart. Also, color code your arrows. Black arrows lead to a single next step. Decision points generally produce a green arrow and a red arrow. Green leads to the “if yes” next step, and red leads to the “if no” next step.
- Standardize flowchart elements. Keep your chosen colors and shapes consistent across projects. Make this easy by saving and reusing your modified Flowchart template. Default to your standard choices until there’s a good reason to add or change something. Familiar visuals help everyone stay on the same page.
With these guidelines in mind, you’re ready to begin. Start using the Flowchart template now with a free Whiteboards account. You can practice using the diagramming tools as you follow along with the example below.
How to make a flowchart: a step-by-step example of the flowchart creation process
Chart a simple user story in the Flowchart template.
One way to use a flowchart is to map a short user story. In our Flowchart template example, your software team is developing an e-commerce site for a client. Let’s say you’ve already described the broad end-user experience in our User Story Mapping template. You’ve mapped the overall customer journey from product discovery to order fulfillment to customer retention. Now you want to break each part of that journey down in detail.
Your flowchart scope is the client’s website checkout process. This user story currently exists in Jira as “checkout process.” The programmer has already added a basic checkout system to the website. The flowchart will include those basics as well as some features that need to be added. The chart starts with the customer clicking on the shopping cart icon. It ends with a successfully placed order.
Map the easy route first.
Using the Flowchart template, diagram the simplest user journey first. Think of the flowchart as a roadmap to a destination: in this case, a completed purchase. In this analogy, your team needs to determine the fastest route to the desired destination. There will be a number of stops, but no detours. You’ll add in possible detours in the next step. For now, assume the road is clear.
In this simplest version of the journey, the user is a repeat customer. They are already logged into your website, and their profile information is current. They have no coupons, and their order is not a gift. They qualify for free standard shipping and do not need faster shipping options. Notice that even in this simple scenario, there are 10 decision points on the Flowchart template.
Add in the alternate routes.
Now it’s time to expand your decision points to account for detours. Add a corresponding arrow to the right side of each diamond. To keep the example simple, we’ll just do two of these: the elements missing from the website at this point. The current ordering process has no shipping tiers, and the client just decided to offer free shipping on orders over $50.
Add in these extra travel stops and return the driver to the main route. Expedited shipping is a short detour that connects back to the main road where it left off. The other detour is the option to add items to the cart in order to get free shipping. This sends the customer back to the start of the checkout process.
Now you have a map of the customer checkout journey. Save it and update the travel steps as new situations arise. For now, the template shows two new possible side stops. It’s time to communicate these tasks to relevant stakeholders. Jira users can do this right from the whiteboard in the next step.
Convert your flowchart steps to Jira issues.
Your team has identified two new tasks for the development team. You can automate the task assignment process using Whiteboards’ native two-way Jira integration. Speed up deployment by creating Jira tasks right from the finished template.
To do this, select the two flowchart fields, then choose “convert to Jira issue.” Select the existing project name and designate the issues as tasks. Assign both tasks to the relevant team member and link the template. The tasks will update together. Add any issue comments to each task.
With Whiteboards’ native Jira integration, these new tasks appear instantly in Jira. The developer receives their assignments with no extra steps. Meanwhile, updates in Jira also sync directly in Whiteboards. The issue status changes from “to-do” to “in progress” in real time on the virtual board.
Start using a Flowchart remplate today
Now that you understand how to make a simple flowchart in Whiteboards, put this knowledge to work. Sign up for a free Whiteboards account today. Your team gets its own virtual whiteboard with an infinite canvas to store all your work. Use it within your department for your own initiatives, or let it open up cross-functional collaboration with other teams in your organization.
Jira integration takes you from flowchart to task deployment in just a few clicks. Create any type of process map in our Flowchart template. Or, choose from dozens of free templates designed for specific project management and organizational needs. Whatever template you use, two-way Jira sync saves you time by streamlining the process.
Watch our short introductory demo to see two-way Jira integration in action.