Workflow templates are used to demonstrate how a process functions logistically. This
can be helpful for training new employees or determining how a new process should
ideally work within a current structure. Workflow is useful because it helps define all of
the different steps that must be taken and in which order they must occur for the
process to be effective. It also helps map out all of the steps so that it can be
determined how a process can operate efficiently. This document should be used by
small businesses or other entities that want to demonstrate how a process functions or
want to maximize the efficiency of a particular process.
(On Page 2 of this document, you will find the symbols that can be copied and used to build workflow processes. On Page 3, there is an example
review process. On Page 4, there is a more general workflow example.
How to Set Up a Workflow Process
1. Decide on the number of swim lanes (rows) that your process needs. This will depend on how many groups/people are involved in the
process. In the example on Page 3, you can see that there are three (Applicant, Human Resources and Operations Manager).
2. Make a table that has two columns and the set number of swim lanes that you need (this will be the number of rows that you select for
your table). Each swim lane will be the same width.
3. In the left hand column, write in the name for each swim lane.
4. Add in the start point (oval shaped “start” symbol) from the swim lane where the process starts, and then add in each activity (a rectangle
for each). Draw arrows in between each process to indicate the direction of the flow.
5. If there is a decision that has to be made, then add a decision box (diamond shape) and draw arrows to each of the different options.
6. At the end of your process flow, add in the end process (oval shaped “end” symbol).
Note: It is helpful to show the users of the process a working draft to confirm that it has been documented in the exact way that the process works
or should work. If they suggest any changes, you can make those changes to reflect the process as it should be performed so that it will be
informative for the users.
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Action – this symbol should be used when there is a process or activity that should be carried out.
Decision – a symbol used to show a decision that must be made, usually a yes/no question.
Swim lane A swim lane is a row that keeps all of the activities for one department, employee, or stage together in one
section. For example, in the workflow diagram below, Applicant, Human Resources, and Operations
Manager are each given a separate swim lane. An action, decision, or start/end is placed in the swim lane
of the party that is responsible for that step.
Used to denote the direction of the activity. Follow the arrows for the next box to denote the correct order
Used to denote the start or end of the process.
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Pre-Screening Application Process Example
Applicant for job
Human Receive Review Interview Rejection
Resources application resume applicant? letter sent
Operations Arrange End
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Activity / Activity / End
Swim Lane 1
Swim Lane 2
Swim Lane 4
Activity / Activity /
Note: All pieces in the workflow must be arranged “in front of text” in order to be placed correctly.
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