The 8 Best Free Flowchart Templates for Any Business Process [+ Examples]

Does this sound familiar? You‘re tasked with documenting a complex business process, but when you try to explain it, your colleagues‘ eyes glaze over. Jargon, unclear responsibilities and convoluted steps make the process feel like a tangled web.

If this is a recurring challenge, flowchart templates are here to save the day.

[Free Download: Flowchart Template Kit]

With a flowchart, you can map out any process, workflow or system in a simple, easy-to-follow visual format – no design skills required. Flowcharts turn business complexity into step-by-step clarity, so everyone can get on the same page quickly.

In fact, businesses that regularly use diagrams and other process documentation report:

  • 25% better adherence to standard operating procedures (SOPs)
  • 18% faster employee onboarding and training
  • 15% fewer errors and less rework

Ready to reap these benefits? In this post, we‘ll break down the 8 most useful types of flowchart templates, with examples and guidance for when to use each. Plus, tips for customizing them for any use case. Let‘s dive in!

1. Basic Flowchart Template

Use it for:

  • Documenting any sequential, repeatable process
  • Creating simple SOPs and policies
  • Showing a quick overview of a process
[Basic Flowchart Template Example]

Also called: Process flowchart, process flow diagram

A basic flowchart is the simplest and most versatile type of flowchart. It shows a sequence of steps from start to finish, with decisions and alternate paths as needed. You can adapt this general-purpose format to document virtually any process.

When to use a basic flowchart template:

  • The process involves 10 steps or fewer
  • All or most steps happen in sequence, not simultaneously
  • Only a few simple decisions/branches are involved

For more complex processes with many possible paths, a more advanced template may be better. But you can‘t go wrong starting with a basic flowchart for most use cases.

2. Swimlane Flowchart Template

Use it for:

  • Processes that span multiple departments/teams
  • Defining roles and responsibilities
  • Identifying bottlenecks and disconnects between teams
[Swimlane Flowchart Example]

Also called: Cross-functional flowchart, Rummler-Brache diagram

A swimlane flowchart divides the diagram into horizontal or vertical "lanes", one for each person, team or department involved. Each lane shows the steps that entity is responsible for. This format is ideal for processes that span organizational silos.

When to use a swimlane flowchart template:

  • 3 or more departments or roles are involved in the process
  • Handoffs between teams are frequent and/or complex
  • Stakeholders need clarity on who does what, when

Tip: Limit swimlane flowcharts to around 5 entities, and focus on the most important steps within each lane. Too many details and lanes can get visually overwhelming.

3. BPMN Diagram Template

Use it for:

  • Highly complex or regulated processes
  • Preparing processes for automation
  • Following a universal standard
[BPMN Diagram Example]

Also called: Business process model and notation

BPMN is a standardized flowchart methodology used to map out business processes in fine detail. It uses a specific set of shapes and symbols to visualize every step, decision, input and output involved.

When to use a BPMN template:

  • Documenting processes that will be automated
  • Demonstrating compliance in regulated industries
  • Collaborating with outside partners/agencies

Because BPMN is a universal standard, it takes time to learn the specific notation involved. Tools like Lucidchart offer legend templates explaining the standard to help you get started.

4. Decision Tree Template

Use it for:

  • Mapping out a complex decision
  • Visualizing a predictive model or algorithm
  • Weighing risks/rewards of different choices
[Decision Tree Example]

Also called: Decision flowchart, decision map

A decision tree maps out a single major decision and its potential outcomes. It looks like a tree, with the decision as the "trunk", potential choices as "branches" and final outcomes as "leaves."

When to use a decision tree template:

  • You need to make a complex choice with 3+ viable options
  • Each choice could result in 2 or more outcomes
  • Outcomes are quantifiable (e.g. costs, profits, scores)

Decision trees help you consider and weigh different outcomes before diving in. Use them to "trim" bad choices and identify the most promising path forward.

5. Organizational Chart Template

Use it for:

  • Visualizing reporting relationships
  • Identifying key stakeholders
  • Showing key roles at-a-glance
[Org Chart Example]

Also called: Org chart, hierarchy chart

An org chart shows the structure of an organization in a hierarchical, top-down format. Shapes represent individual roles, teams or departments, with lines showing who reports to whom.

When to use an org chart template:

  • Onboarding new employees
  • Planning a reorg or expansion
  • Evaluating managerial bandwidth

Org charts aren‘t just for HR – they help anyone understand who‘s who in a company. For public org charts, include names, titles, headshots and contact info if appropriate.

6. Mind Map Template

Use it for:

  • Brainstorming ideas and solutions
  • Note-taking and information gathering
  • Creative project planning
[Mind Map Example]

Also called: Concept map, spider diagram

A mind map organizes information in a radiant structure, with a central topic and related ideas branching off it. Unlike a traditional flowchart, mind maps are non-linear and free-flowing to encourage creativity.

When to use a mind map template:

  • Exploring a broad, open-ended topic
  • Capturing ideas during a brainstorm
  • Gathering research and inspiration

Mind maps are perfect for creative teams and projects that require outside-the-box thinking. Get started with a template, then expand freely as inspiration strikes.

7. Data Flow Diagram Template

Use it for:

  • Documenting data systems and processes
  • Scoping data migration/integration projects
  • Identifying data security risks
[Data Flow Diagram Example]

Also called: DFD

A data flow diagram visualizes how data moves through an information system. It shows each entity that processes data, the actions/changes applied and the destination flows for all outputs.

When to use a data flow diagram template:

  • Designing or documenting IT architectures
  • Planning system integrations or data migrations
  • Adhering to data privacy/security standards

DFDs are essential for IT and data teams to understand how data changes and where it ends up across complex systems. They‘re also auditing tools to ensure compliance and security.

8. Customer Journey Map Template

Use it for:

  • Visualizing the end-to-end customer experience
  • Identifying CX gaps and opportunities
  • Putting the customer at the center of operations
[Customer Journey Map Example]

Also called: User journey, experience map

A customer journey map visualizes each step a customer goes through when interacting with your business, from initial contact to purchase to support. It puts you in the customer‘s shoes.

When to use a journey map template:

  • Creating a customer-centric strategy
  • Aligning marketing, sales and service teams
  • Improving key conversion/retention metrics

Start with a template based on your industry and common interaction points. Seek frequent customer feedback to validate assumptions and uncover opportunities to improve.

How to Customize Flowchart Templates in 4 Steps

Templates are incredibly useful starting points. But to get the most value from flowcharts, you‘ll need to tailor them to your unique business processes and goals. Here‘s how:

  1. Choose the right type of template for the process
  2. Rename shapes/sections to match your specific steps
  3. Add, remove or rearrange shapes to fit your process flow
  4. Enhance with colors, icons and other visual aids

For more complex processes, consider using a dedicated flowchart tool like Lucidchart that supports advanced customization and collaboration features.

Free Flowchart Templates and Examples

Want to see flowchart templates in action? Check out some of the most popular templates in Lucidchart‘s gallery:

[Table of templates and use cases]

For even more inspiration, browse our full collection of 100+ flowchart examples from real businesses across industries.

Flowchart Best Practices for Beginners

Finally, a few tips for getting the most out of any flowchart template:

  • Involve stakeholders early to get buy-in and validate details
  • Use standard shapes and left-to-right flow for easy reading
  • Aim for 5-15 shapes per chart to avoid overcrowding
  • Add links to policies or FAQs for key decision points
  • Review and update frequently as processes change

For more expert advice, check out our Ultimate Flowchart Tutorial for Beginners.

Streamline Any Process with Flowchart Templates

With the right flowchart template, you can quickly bring clarity to any complex process and get everyone on the same page. Use this guide to choose the right template for any business need and start mapping your way to better efficiency today.

[Download Free Flowchart Templates]