Process Charts

Process ChartsProcess Charts are referred to by a number of different names. They are based on a flow chart, and can be called Process Flow Charts, Process Diagrams, Process Flow Diagrams or Process Maps. When describing an item of work they can be called Workflow Diagrams, Workflow Charts or Workflow Maps.

The Process Charts uses a standard set of symbols representing steps, actions, decision points, and inputs, linked together in a sequence with arrows that may flow back to other parts of the chart or to an exit point.

Process Charts make use of BPMN (Business Process Model and Notation), which is a standard notation for business process modelling.

Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN)

The Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) standard uses symbols and notation that have specific meanings and contexts when used in Process Flow Charts or BPMN Diagrams. Using such a standard, developed for businesses, ensures the Process Chart is easily understandable by a wider audience, rather than using bespoke flow chart symbols that take time to interpret.

There are four main element categories in BPMN:

  • Flow objects
  • Connecting Objects
  • Swim Lanes
  • Artifacts

Flow Objects

  • Events - represented with a circle
  • Activities - represented with a rounded-corner rectangle
  • Gateways - represented with a diamond shape

Connecting Objects

  • Sequence Flow - represented with a solid line and arrowhead
  • Message Flow - represented with a dashed line
  • Associations - represented with a dotted line

Swim Lanes

Swim Lanes are used to organise the Flow and Connecting Objects into groups related to those with responsibility for the tasks, such as an individual, group, department, or organisation. There can be multiple lanes arranged horizontally or vertically that structure the Process Flow Chart.


Artifacts allow more information to be added to the Process Chart or Diagram to help explain groupings and differentiate activities.

  • Data Objects
  • Group of Activities
  • Annotation 


Common Process Flow Chart Symbols