How to Create Business Process Flow Charts Using Excel: A Guide

Creating a business process flow chart in Excel is straightforward. Start by opening a new Excel document and selecting the ‘Insert’ tab. Choose ‘SmartArt’ from the ‘Illustrations’ group and select ‘Process’ from the left-hand pane. Pick the flow chart design that fits your needs, and then fill in the steps of your process accordingly. You can adjust the design and format as necessary.

After completing your business process flow chart in Excel, you will have a visual representation of the steps in a business process. This can be helpful for training new employees, analyzing existing processes, and identifying areas for improvement.


Flow charts are a fantastic tool for visualizing complex processes, breaking them down into easy-to-understand steps. They help us to see the big picture, as well as the tiny details that make up that picture. In the business world, they are particularly useful for mapping out the steps in a process, identifying bottlenecks, and finding areas where improvements can be made. Excel, with its grid structure, is an ideal platform for creating flow charts, as it allows you to easily move shapes and arrows around to reflect the process accurately.

Whether you’re a small business owner trying to streamline your operations, a manager looking to improve your team’s workflow, or an employee tasked with documenting a process, knowing how to create a flow chart in Excel is a valuable skill. It’s not only about making your work life easier but also about enhancing productivity and efficiency in your business processes. Plus, you don’t have to be a tech wizard to do it—Excel simplifies the process with its SmartArt feature. So let’s dive in and learn how to create business process flow charts with Excel.

Step by Step Tutorial: Creating Business Process Flow Charts in Excel

Before we begin, let’s understand what we’re trying to achieve. Creating a business process flow chart in Excel will give us a visual guide to the steps in a business operation. It helps in understanding the workflow, communicating the process to others, and identifying areas for improvement.

Step 1: Open Excel and Select SmartArt

Open a new Excel document, go to the ‘Insert’ tab, and click on ‘SmartArt’.

In the ‘SmartArt’ window, you’ll find a variety of graphics to choose from. For a business process flow chart, you’ll likely want to choose one of the options under the ‘Process’ category. This step sets the foundation for your flow chart.

Step 2: Choose Your Flow Chart Design

Select a design that matches the process you want to chart.

Each design comes with a different layout and number of steps. Consider the complexity of your process and the number of steps when choosing your design. You can change the design later if necessary.

Step 3: Fill in the Steps of Your Process

Click on the boxes and type in the steps of your business process.

As you fill in the steps, think about the order and flow of the process. Make sure each step flows logically into the next. You can add or remove steps as needed by clicking the ‘Add Shape’ or ‘Delete’ buttons in the SmartArt Design tab.

Step 4: Customize Your Flow Chart

Change colors, shapes, and sizes to make your flow chart clearer and more visually appealing.

Excel offers a variety of formatting options to make your flow chart look professional. You can access these options in the ‘SmartArt Design’ and ‘Format’ tabs. Use colors to differentiate between types of steps or to highlight important parts of the process.

Step 5: Adjust the Layout As Necessary

Move shapes around to better reflect the process and adjust arrows to show the direction of flow.

The flexibility of Excel allows you to rearrange the elements of your flow chart until it accurately reflects the process. Use the arrow keys or click and drag shapes to move them. Ensure the arrows connect the steps in a way that makes the flow of the process obvious.


ClarityA flow chart provides a clear, visual representation of a process, making it easier to understand at a glance.
CommunicationIt can be used as a communication tool to explain processes to team members, stakeholders, or new employees.
EfficiencyIdentifying bottlenecks and redundancies in a process can lead to improvements, increasing overall efficiency.


ComplexityFor very complex processes, a flow chart in Excel might become too cluttered or unwieldy.
Learning CurveThose unfamiliar with Excel or flow charts may have an initial learning curve.
Limited Design OptionsWhile Excel offers some customization, it may not have the advanced design features of dedicated diagramming software.

Additional Information

Creating business process flow charts in Excel is not only useful for visualizing processes but also for analyzing and improving them. Remember, a flow chart is not just a static document—it’s a tool for process management. Don’t be afraid to adjust your chart as your process evolves. Excel’s flexibility makes it easy to update your flow chart as changes occur.

Another tip is to involve your team in the flow chart creation process. Collaborative input can lead to a more comprehensive and accurate representation of the process. Plus, it ensures everyone is on the same page.

Finally, don’t forget to save your work. You can save your Excel document with the flow chart like any other Excel file. You may also want to export it as a PDF or image file to share with those who might not have Excel.


  1. Open Excel and select ‘SmartArt’ from the ‘Insert’ tab.
  2. Choose a flow chart design from the ‘Process’ category.
  3. Fill in the steps of your process by clicking on the boxes and typing.
  4. Customize the design for clarity and visual appeal.
  5. Adjust the layout of shapes and arrows to reflect the flow accurately.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I add more steps to my flow chart after I’ve started?

Yes, you can add more steps by clicking the ‘Add Shape’ button in the SmartArt Design tab.

Can I share my flow chart with people who don’t have Excel?

Yes, you can export your flow chart as a PDF or image file to share with others.

What if my process is too complex for a single flow chart?

Consider breaking the process into multiple flow charts, each representing a different part of the process.

Can I print my flow chart?

Yes, you can print your flow chart directly from Excel. Just make sure it fits on the page before printing.

Can I use flow charts for processes outside of business?

Absolutely! Flow charts can be used for any process, whether it’s personal, educational, or otherwise.


Creating business process flow charts with Excel is a skill that can immensely benefit anyone in the business realm. It’s a powerful way to visualize, communicate, and improve your business processes. Whether you’re a seasoned Excel user or new to the platform, the steps outlined in this article will guide you in creating effective flow charts.

With practice, you’ll be able to whip up a flow chart with ease, making you a valuable asset to any team or organization. So go ahead, give it a try—your business processes (and your colleagues) will thank you for it!

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