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A flowchart is a graphic representation of the sequence of steps in a process that helps you understand the process so that you can develop ideas about how to improve it.


  • Flowchart instructions, example, and template

Note: Spanish and Portuguese translations of this tool also available for download.

Flowcharts allow you to draw a picture of the way a process actually works so that you can understand the existing process and develop ideas about how to improve it.

A high-level flowchart, showing six to 12 steps, gives a panoramic view of a process. These flowcharts show clearly the major blocks of activity, or the major system components, in a process. High-level flowcharts are especially useful in the early phases of a project.

A detailed flowchart is a close-up view of the process, typically showing dozens of steps. These flowcharts make it easy to identify rework loops and complexity in a process. Detailed flowcharts are useful after teams have pinpointed issues or when they are making changes in the process.

Using a flowchart has a variety of benefits:

  • It helps to clarify complex processes.
  • It identifies steps that do not add value to the internal or external customer, including: delays, needless storage and transportation, unnecessary work, duplication, and added expense; breakdowns in communication.
  • It helps team members gain a shared understanding of the process and use this knowledge to collect data, identify problems, focus discussions, and identify resources.
  • It serves as a basis for designing new processes.

*NOTE: Before filling out the templates, first save the PDF files to your computer. Then open and use that version of the tool. Otherwise, your changes will not be saved.​

Flowchart Overview, Parts 1 and 2

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