This article will help you quickly compare and evaluate the best flowchart software and other flowchart tools.
“But Ben, I’m a project manager. Why would I use flowchart software?”
Great point. Flowcharts can be great tools for project management—use them to present ideas, jumpstart your thinking, keep your flow of work or communication organized, or map a product from conception to launch. That’s why every PM should have a few graph making tools in their back pocket.
Quickly Compare & Evaluate The 10 Best Flowchart Software
Maybe you’ve got a big project pitch coming up and you need to visualize your ideas in order to share them with your client or team. Have you tried using a tree diagram maker to flesh out your ideas? An online graph maker to pitch resource-in and resource-out estimates?
Some background on flowcharts…
The first “flow process chart” was described by Frank and Lillian Gilbreth in 1921 as a way to present every detail of a project where every part of the process is dependent upon or affected by every other part.
Today, flowcharts are taught even in grade school as a way to sort ideas, brainstorm, visualize data and more.
Flowcharts continue to be a great way to visualize data. And visualizing data helps us comprehend and remember information, identify relationships and patterns, and communicate ideas from one person to another.
In this post, I’ll share with you what flowchart creators I’ve been exposed to and highlight a few of the best. I will also explain what a robust workflow diagrams software or even a simple flow chart creator can do for you. I will also answer some FAQs about flow chart software, tell you what you should look for in flowchart tool and our evaluation criteria and provide a simple online flowchart maker comparison.
The Digital Project Manager is reader-supported. When you click through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
Flowchart Software Comparison Criteria
What are we looking for when we select diagram makers and flowchart tools for review? Here’s a summary of my evaluation criteria:
- User Interface (UI): Is it clean with attractive presentation tools for sharing your diagram with clients and teams? Above all, flowchart software is a visual tool, so the graphical interface is a top consideration.
- Usability: Is the graph maker easy to learn and master? Does the company offer good tech support, user support, tutorials, and training? Additionally, the best flow diagram software should come with a good stash of flow chart template options to get you started.
- Features & Functionality: In flow charting software, I looked for:
- Drag & Drop: Arrange shapes, lines, and grids intuitively with drag and drop. Even better if the flow charting software offers auto-align and auto-snap features to speed up the process.
- Lots of Graphical Elements: Any good process mapping software should supply a large variety of objects to work with. You’ll need standard options like shapes (ovals, diamonds) and connectors. The best apps also let you make your own shapes and add your own images.
- Templates: I mention this as part of overall usability. While not everyone wants templates, in general, a robust template library helps you put the tool to use immediately. The template library should have clear navigation that makes it easy to search for and visually sort through the many options. My advice is to check the template library before getting started to make sure the tool offers the type of templates you’ll need.
- Collaboration: At its most basic, collaboration features include comments. Some of the more advanced flowchart diagramming software includes some form of groupware that lets users edit simultaneously in real-time on the same diagram, which can be really useful for remote teams.
- Exporting and Presentation: Your diagrams should be easy to present, share, and export in a range of formats. Keep in mind that if you’re printing your diagrams in a large format, the software needs to support vector file exports.
- Integrations: Is it easy to connect with other tools? Any pre-built integrations?
- Value for $: How appropriate is the price for the features, capabilities, and use case? Is pricing clear, transparent and flexible in your choice of software for flow chart design?
Overviews Of The Top Flowchart Software
Here’s a brief description of each of the flowchart software solutions that are featured on this top 10 list.
- Microsoft Visio– Popular tool for making flowcharts, diagrams, org charts, floor plans, engineering designs, and more.
- Gliffy – Drag and drop diagram builder with a stack of ready-made templates, plus an HTML5 editor to create larger-scale visuals.
- Edraw Max – Loads of professionally designed templates, plus easy exports to Visio, PDF, Word, PPT, JPEG and/or Html.
- Creately – 50+ types of diagram templates, plus 1000s of examples. Sports plugins for Confluence, JIRA and FogBugz.
- ConceptDraw Diagram – Business graphic documentation solution with 1000s of stencils, 100s of templates, and many export options.
- Cacoo – Collaborative diagramming to edit and share flowcharts along with your team, with revision history and comments.
- VisualParadigm online – Professional diagram software including a flow chart maker, UML, mind maps, charts and data analysis.
- Draw.io – Free graph maker online built around Google Drive for creating flowcharts, UML, entity relation, network diagrams and mockups.
- Lucid Chart – Flow charts and complex technical diagrams you can connect with live or imported data.
- Smartdraw – Flow chart maker that runs on any device with over 70 quick-start diagram templates from flowcharts to floor plans.
The Best Flowchart Software Summary
|Microsoft Visio||free trial||from $6.40/user/month||Check out Microsoft Visio|
|Gliffy||free 14-day trial||from $4.99/user/month||Check out Gliffy|
|Edraw Max||free 30-day trial||from $8.25/month||Check out Edraw Max|
|from $5/month||Check out Creately|
|ConceptDraw Diagram||free 21-day trial||$199||Check out ConceptDraw Diagram|
|Cacoo||free 14-day trial||from $5/user/month||Check out Cacoo|
|VisualParadigm Online||free version|
(for personal and non-commercial use only)
|from $4/month||Check out VisualParadigm|
|Draw.io||free||free||Check out Draw.io|
free trials of paid versions
|from $4.95/user/month||Check out Lucidchart|
|SmartDraw||free trial||from $5.95/user/month||Check out SmartDraw|
Other Flowchart Maker Options
Here’s a few more that didn’t make the top list. If you need additional suggestions for handy process flow diagram software, check these out.
- Visme – Hundreds of presentation, infographic and other templates, with simple content block builder to quickly create custom designs from scratch.
- Processplan – Cloud-based business process manager that offers process templates for hundreds of different departments and industries.
- Grapholite – Easy to use, touch-friendly tool for all types of business graphics: flowcharts, floor plans, uml diagrams, org charts, and more.
- FlowBreeze – Time-saving software that converts text into flowchart shapes as you type, auto-selecting the symbol, formatting, connectors, and more.
- Pencil Project – Free and open-source GUI prototyping tool that can be easily installed and used to create mockups in popular desktop platforms.
Want Help Narrowing Down the Options?
This tool is pretty useful. We’ve partnered with Crozdesk to give you access to their “Software Finder”.
If you input some of the details about your project and the features you’re looking for in a project management tool, it will generate a list of tools that match your preferences. You provide your email, and they send over a nice PDF guide with a summary of your best matches.
What Do You Think About These Top Flow Chart Programs?
Have you tried out any flowchart program listed above? The best flow chart creator is out there for you to discover. If you have a favorite flowchart maker, let us know in the comments below (and tell us why you like it).