Are you trying to choose a flowchart software for your business? We're here to help you find the one that's right for you. Whereas some systems are appropriate for larger businesses, we found three that we think are best for small businesses' needs.
What is flowchart software?
Flowchart software can help you easily create diagrams, organization charts, wireframes, process-flow diagrams and more. The charts are suitable for presenting to clients or other stakeholders. Charts can be shared online and some offer interactive features. Flowchart makers provide more features than free software or spreadsheet or presentation programs. Plus, they include helpful templates, symbol libraries and collaboration tools.
Benefits of flowchart software
- Creates professional flowcharts easily
- Shares charts online, by PDF or image file
- Includes numerous templates and symbols
- Also creates other types of charts
- Compatible with other business apps
Other types of charts diagram software can create: business process modeling (BPMB), organizational charts, mind maps, SWOT analysis, network diagrams, electrical drawings, engineering drawings, wireframes, mock-ups, Unified modeling language (UML) diagrams, Venn diagrams, workflow diagrams and custom diagrams.
If you have found that you have outgrown free chart creation tools, it may be time to consider an affordable upgrade.
How we evaluated flowchart software
Top Ten Reviews (TTR), a sister site of Business News Daily, has been testing flowchart software since 2011. We spoke with TTRs business review team about their testing of flowchart software and conducted our own research to evaluate flowchart software specifically for small businesses.
The testers considered the flowchart creation process as well as how the charts are shared and viewed. The logic behind these tests was that the software should be simple to use and view for both small businesses and their clients. About 80 hours of testing and research was conducted to discover the software that not only provide a good feature set, but is easy to use and share as well.
After looking over Top Ten Reviews' research notes and conducting our research, we found three products suitable for small businesses, plus one free option. These products are simple to use, but are also affordable to the small business owner. It should be noted that in many cases flowchart software is not actual tradition software, but most often an online version with a monthly subscription rate. Here are our top three picks:
Some of the charting options supported by Visio. Credit: Visio
Compatible with Office 365, can install on more than one PC per user, feature rich
Visio has long been known as the premier product for chart creation. After the implementation of Office 365 subscription plans it has become more affordable for smaller companies. You can work on charts online with other team members, via SharePoint. Creation features are among the easiest to use and it includes advanced features such as legend creation and business process modeling. Finished charts can be shared as an image, web file, PDF or XPS files, or as an AutoCAD drawing. Provided that you have an Office 365 subscription, you can add Visio for as low as $13 per month. Traditional software versions are also still available. Go here to read a full review of Visio on Top Ten Reviews.
Simple to use, excellent chart sharing tools, low monthly ratesLucidchart creates process-flow charts easily using a choice of chart symbols. Credit: Lucidchart
This is an online flowchart creation tool that works with any operating system. Lucidchart provides numerous templates to speed up the diagram creation process. It creates charts suitable for engineering, business and design purposes. Lucidchart includes business process modeling tools. This software is compatible with Microsoft products, including Visio. It is also compatible with Google Apps, Confluence and JIRA and storage services such and Dropbox. Top Ten Reviews gave this software high scores for viewer access. This is important if you have clients, in or outside the company who you need to share charts with. Using Lucidchart, you can invite collaborators, publish charts online, embed charts into web pages or share to social media easily. User accounts start for as low as $4.95 per month. Go here to read a full review of Lucidchart on Top Ten Reviews.
Cross-platform compatible, provides wide-range of templates, simple to use layoutSmartDraw provides a wide-range of chart template choices. Credit: SmartDraw
SmartDraw is simple to use and suitable for businesses who need to create a wide range of documents beyond charts and diagrams. It is marketed as an alternative to Visio and considering you do not have to have an Office 365 membership to use it, it is lower priced in the long term. It can create simple flow charts, org charts, workflows and mind maps. It can also create useful documents such as floor plans, flyers, simple infographics, network maps and SWOT charts. While not as advanced as some other flowchart software, the ability to create a wide range of simple documents make it ideal for small businesses looking to stretch their IT dollar. Created charts can be shared by copy link or email. SmartDraw requires that you purchase an entire year in advance, which is $155.40 per user. Go here to read a full review of SmartDraw on Top Ten Reviews.
During our research process, we found a free flowchart maker called Draw.io that was not reviewed by Top Ten Reviews, but is one to make note of. If you just need to create simple flow charts or don't have to create them often, this free online tool may satisfy your needs.
Free access, compatible with all browsers, saves to popular online storage servicesWhile limited, a range of free chart choices like Draw.io are available. Credit: Draw.io
Small businesses looking to save money may be satisfied with a free flowchart creator such as Draw.io. Draw.io is compatible with Confluence team collaboration software and JIRA project management and application program interface (APIs) are available if you’d like to build your own integrations. It is a streamlined, simple to use product that can create simple charts, flowcharts, mind maps and wireframes. This flow chart generator provides limited features and chart templates, but it may meet your needs if creating charts and flows is not a major part of your business.
To help you decide which might be the best flowchart software for your business, you'll want to consider how often you would use the software, what kind of charts you need to create, and how you'll want to share those charts and with whom. If you need to share charts with clients for sales purposes, you'll want it to be able to be shared in a variety of ways and preferably without them having to download a chart viewer. And, you'll want the charts to be attractive and modern-looking. If more than one person needs to work on the charts, you'll want to find one that provides collaboration tools and security features. Alternatively, if you rarely need to create charts you may be okay using Office tools or a free online diagram creation service.