Create PowerPoint Flowcharts
A flowchart allows you to present complex processes clearly. Flowcharts’ greatest strength is the fact that they make processes easier to understand than wordy descriptions. PowerPoint flowcharts can be a big asset in presentations. By combining shapes, text, and arrows, a flowchart can contain everything from step-by-step instructions to the development of ideas.
The history of flowcharts
Flowcharts were created as far back as the 1920s, when two industrial engineers presented the term flow process chart to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). In the 1930s, flowchart tools were used to visualize methods for working more effectively. Procter and Gamble began using flowcharts in the 1940s. During the same time, this type of diagram became the cornerstone of computer program design and grew in popularity.
With advancing modernization and technical innovations, the flowchart has become widely accepted. A hundred years after its initial creation, the flowchart is still a universally accepted to describe and explain processes.
What is a flowchart?
Simply put, a flowchart is a way to illustrate business processes. More specifically, flowcharts are a way to illustrate a variety of processes in detail. The key is that it provides an audience with a quick and easy overview of a process.
Flowcharts illustrate how different process steps are connected with each other, which information is required for which steps and how input is converted to output.
Flowcharts are found in a wide variety of PowerPoint business presentations. Thanks to their versatility, they’re a popular tool for visualizing complex structures and processes.
Advantages and disadvantages of flowcharts
There are numerous advantages in using flowcharts at work:
- Processes, process steps and collected data can be monitored and optimized more easily.
- Processes can be analyzed and improved.
- Current workflows, documents and resources can be mapped collectively.
But there are a few disadvantages:
- The flowchart may become confusing if the process is overly complex
- An audience may have difficulty seeing the entire process, as a flowchart primarily presents sub-processes.
- Since flowcharts have a linear structure, it can be complicated to display parallel sub-processes.
Symbols and functions
In flowcharts, symbolic shapes are used to represent steps in a process. The flow of the process is usually represented by arrows. A flowchart can also contain additional branches, yes/no decisions, loops and more.
Types of flowcharts
Flowcharts are used in a wide range of fields and industries and are a popular visualization tool for complex processes. We’ll introduce you to the most common types of flowcharts and how to use them.
The standard flowchart
Flowcharts illustrate the sequence of steps in a process. They visualize the movement of information, tasks, money, people or objects within a process or organization.
Pools and swim lanes
Swim lane flowcharts can be used to categorize different organizational units and process steps. For example, a swim lane can be used to visualize the employee or department responsible for a specific process. Several swim lanes create a pool diagram. Swim lanes can be vertical or horizontal.
A workflow diagram focuses on visualizing tasks and decisions. Each decision results in a sequence that determines the subsequent path along the flow lines in the diagram.
Process flow diagram
Process flow diagrams are used to plan and design an entire process. For example, the movement of a product through a company – from development to production to delivery – can be planned and tracked. Process flow diagrams are a valuable tool for quality assurance.
Data flow diagram
A data flow diagram represents the flow of data within a process or system. Its focus is on the flow of information – where data comes from, where it goes and how it gets stored.
Specific and standardized flowcharts
Many areas of IT used standardized, specific forms of flowcharts. They include the BPMN diagram, the IDEF0 diagram, the EPC diagram, the SDL diagram and the Nassi-Shneiderman diagram.
How to create a PowerPoint flowchart
There are several ways to create a PowerPoint flowchart. You can easily create a flowchart yourself or use PowerPoint’s SmartArt graphics. If you’re pressed for time, we offer a number of flowchart templates to help you create flowcharts with minimal effort.
Create a flowchart yourself
- Plan your flowchart before you start building it
Planning in advance will save you time when creating your PowerPoint flowchart. Moreover, you’ll have a clear idea of what you want your flowchart to look like. For more complex diagrams, it makes sense to write down your ideas so that you can use them as a guide when you build your flowchart.
- Select and place your shapes
In PowerPoint, go to Insert > Shapes. There you can then choose from different shapes for your flowchart. If you need multiple copies of a shape, copy it with CTRL+C and then paste it with CTRL+V. To insert text boxes into these shapes, go to Insert > Text Box. You can place a text box anywhere you want and specify its size.
- Connect your shapes and text boxes
Connect your shapes to show which elements belong together and follow each other using arrows or lines. Go to Insert > Shapes and select which arrow or line you'[d like to use. After inserting it, use your mouse to drag it to the right place on your diagram.
After you have connected all the boxes, right-click each arrow and select Send to Back. This will move the arrows behind the boxes, creating a smooth transition.
For more tips and tutorials on creating flowcharts, watch this video.
Create a PowerPoint flowchart using SmartArt graphics
1. Go to Insert > SmartArt.
2. Select Process and double-click Picture Accent Process.
3. To add a picture click on the picture icon in the chosen field.
4. To add text to your flowchart, click on one of the fields, go to the Type your text here pane on the right and enter your content.
- If you want to add text from the clipboard, right-click on [Text] in the text pane and select Paste.
Use the Text Pane to add text to your PowerPoint flowchart
- Go to the Type your text here box on the right and place your cursor at the bullet point where you want to add your text field.
- Enter your text. Repeat step 1 to add another line of text to your shape.
- Press the Enter key to save your content.
Add and delete shapes in a flowchart
- Select an existing shape in your SmartArt graphic that is closest to where you want to add your new shape. Double-click it to open the SmartArt Design tab.
- Click the arrow beside Add Shape in the Create Graphic group.
- Select Add Shape After to add your new shape after the selected shape. Add Shape Before to add the new shape before the selected one.
- Select Add Shape Before to add the new shape before the selected shape.
- To delete a shape, select it and hit the Delete button.
Pro Tip: Animate your flowchart in PowerPoint
You can highlight each shape one at a time by animating your flowchart in PowerPoint. Here is how you can animate your diagram quickly and easily:
- Click on your SmartArt flowchart.
- Go to the Animations tab, select your Animation, click Effect Options, and select One by One.
Use flowcharts to clearly visualize your projects
Flowcharts in PowerPoint are ideal for presenting larger processes clearly and in detail. Unlike extensive text descriptions, flowcharts are easy to understand and require no PowerPoint expertise to create.