The Best Flowchart Software for Small Businesses

Sean Lund-Brown

Big Data, data science, data-based marketing, predictive analytics, deep learning – these are signs of the times. We’re firmly in the Information Age. Data is now the most valuable asset a business possesses, even more than its employees or even the profit flowing through the organization.

We’ve developed new, powerful ways of extracting information from the environment, from cookies that track users’ online journeys to forms and questionnaires that allow people to provide the information we need directly. However, there’s a world of difference between having access to data and being able to use it to make informed decisions that move your business forward.

To be useful – to really get at the value that data can offer – it has to be put into a digestible format. A sea of 1’s and 0’s might be fine for computers, but humans don’t work that way. We need context, relevance, and more so that we can see the connections between different pieces of information. Think of the difference between an infographic and the raw data used to create it. Humans can immediately derive value from the infographic, but the underlying information in its raw state? Not so much.

Big businesses have entire data-facing teams and massive computer networks that help them parse, sort, clean, and transform data into something more usable. Small businesses, on the other hand, usually struggle to derive value from the information they own. There’s good news – software is available to help you make complex information comprehensible and turn unusable data streams into invaluable business assets.

We’re talking about flowchart software and diagramming tools. Flowcharts are critical tools for turning complicated workflows into easily followed instructions. They transform information into something much more usable and user-friendly.

What goes into making great flowchart software for small businesses? 

While you’ll find a wide range of flowchart software and tools designed to help you create other diagrams, the ones worth your time and money all share several commonalities. These include the following:

  • Great User Interface – First, flowchart software should be simple and easy to use. The interface should support the user in their journey and it should be thoroughly modern.
  • Shapes – Flowchart software should also provide you with access to a robust library of shapes, as well as the ability to create and upload your own.
  • Templates – Sure, sometimes you want to spend the time required to create a flowchart from scratch, but SMB owners and decision-makers are pressed for time. Templates save both time and sanity.
  • Tools – The best flowchart software will also provide you with tools to help improve accuracy and speed of creation, such as auto-snapping shapes.
  • Export – Finally, you’ll need simple but powerful ways to get the information out of the software and into the world. The right flowchart software should allow you to export in a variety of formats, including vector files.

Finding the right software can be daunting, though. There are so many options out there, how will you ever find the time to sort through them all? We can help!

Of course, there are other ways to free up time and ensure that you’re able to focus on what you do best. At Smith.ai, we understand just how time-starved SMBs can be. That’s where our professional, live operators come in – they ensure that all inbound communications are answered accurately, promptly, and professionally while freeing you to focus on other things.

The best flowchart software options

We’ve compared the options and come up with a list of the best flowchart software choices specifically for small businesses. We sorted our list with an eye toward ease of use, affordability, and functionality to ensure that you can hit the ground running.

Lucidchart

Our top pick is Lucidchart. Chances are good that if you’ve looked at your flowchart software options, this one came up pretty early on. It’s widely adopted and well-liked for several reasons. One of those is the web-based interface, which is both easy on the eyes and supportive of your workflows.

There are plenty of other reasons to love Lucidchart. For instance, you’ll find the traditional navigation menu at the top (standard to most types of software), so it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. It’s also simple to add items and arrange them as you like. There’s a robust library of shapes and templates on offer, too.

Another high point here is the ability to import files from other software, such as Visio or Gliffy. Exporting is also simple, and allows you to create PDFs, vectors, image files, and more. It also exports to MS Visio, which is not something most flowchart software options can do. What else should you know about Lucidchart?

  • Free option? Yes
  • Price: $4.95 per user
  • Platform: Online only
  • Real-time online collaboration capabilities
  • Export to Visio, as well as many other file types
  • Lots of flexibility in import/export
  • Intuitive user interface with a solid library

Microsoft Visio

One of the biggest names in flowchart software, Microsoft Visio is an ideal choice for those who are familiar with the Office suite. That familiar interface is one mark in Visio’s favor, as it means ease of use and navigation for users. Visio has also been around for over 25 years at this point, with a long track record of iterations and changes to make it more powerful and more capable.

Visio makes it simple to create flowcharts but also supports many other types of diagrams. You can expert in almost any format needed, from vectors to image files, too. One feature offered with Visio that you won’t find with many others is the ability to automatically sort flowcharts – if your flow gets too messy, just get the program to organize it.

Other important things to know about Visio include the following:

  • Free Option? No, but there’s a free trial.
  • Price: $250 one-time purchase fee (also available with 2 subscription plans
  • Platform: Windows, browser
  • Lots of import/export options
  • Lots of templates and shapes
  • A familiar Office interface lowers the barrier to entry
  • Built-in flowchart organization capabilities

textografo

If you’re looking for a simple, minimalistic flowchart software option that still delivers plenty of performance, then textografo is your jam. This is a text-based flowchart maker that helps speed the process of transforming your text outlines into usable, accurate flowcharts. That’s actually its standout feature: rather than forcing you to move a bunch of boxes and shapes around the screen, you can just create a text outline and textografo will turn it into a true flowchart.

With that being said, there is a learning curve. Plain text won’t get you your flowchart – you’ll need to know the right syntax to use. It’s also notable for its complete and utter lack of drag and drop functionality. You literally cannot drag any shape with your mouse. Everything must be done via text. Finally, it’s a little limited in terms of diagrams. You can create flowcharts and other things that need to be connected by arrows, but not general diagrams.

What else should you know about textografo?

  • Free Option? No
  • Price: $8 per month
  • Platform: Online only
  • Somewhat limited in what you can create
  • The single fastest flowchart creation process once you learn the syntax
  • Completely text-based flowchart software

Draw.io

Looking for flowchart software that doesn’t require online access all the time? Draw.io can do that for you. It’s also free to use if you just want a personal account. However, there’s a lot more to love with this tool.

Draw.io is easy to learn and pretty intuitive. If you’ve used any of Google’s tools, you’ll find the interface pretty familiar. It has light and dark modes, provides simple tools for adding and moving shapes, and also provides shape and template libraries. Local storage for flowcharts and other diagrams is provided, but you can also connect to cloud storage if you’d prefer.

Other things to know about Draw.io include the following:

  • Free Option? Yes
  • Price: Depends on hosting option
  • Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux, ChromeOS, browser)
  • Local and online storage
  • Intuitive and easy to use
  • Shapes and templates are a little limited
  • Online and offline capabilities

OmniGraffle

Are you a confirmed Mac user? If so, OmniGraffle is the flowchart software for you. Only available for macOS and iOS, this software replicates the interface you’ve come to expect from Apple-focused apps. It also works offline, which is a nice bonus.

You’ll get a few shapes and templates off the bat, with the option to download more if you like. You will also find bundles tailored to help you mock up specific things, from landscaping projects to websites. However, the process for creating a flowchart isn’t as intuitive as it could be, meaning that if you’re looking strictly for a flowchart maker, there are better options. Still, if you need to make lots of different diagrams, this is a solid choice.

What should you know about OmniGraffle?

  • Free Option? No, but there’s a 14-day free trial.
  • Price: $99.99
  • Platform: macOS, iOS
  • Native Apple interface
  • Online/offline functionality
  • Lots of available templates and bundles available
  • Better suited for general diagram creation than pure flowchart making

SmartDraw

SmartDraw is an online-only flowchart software option, but it comes with a host of benefits. For instance, if you’re looking for access to the largest collection of shapes and templates available, this is where you’ll find it. Of course, SmartDraw offers other capabilities, too.

SmartDraw lives up to its name with intuitive, easy-to-use drawing tools. You can also save files locally or to your choice of cloud storage service. Import/export capabilities are also good here, and you can even export to Visio (as well as vector and image formats). With all that being said, SmartDraw’s interface is a little bit dated.

Things to know about SmartDraw include the following:

  • Free Option? No, but there’s a free trial.
  • Price: $9.95 per month
  • Platform: Online only
  • Lots of cloud storage options
  • Exports to Visio, as well as other formats
  • Massive collection of shapes, templates, and maps
  • Slightly dated user interface

Gliffy Diagram

While it might be web-based, Gliffy Diagram offers a crash course in flowchart creation, which makes it one of the better options out there for small business owners who don’t have a lot of experience in this area. You can also create more than just flowcharts – Venn diagrams and other options are just a few clicks away.

Gliffy Diagram offers a built-in grid to help keep your diagrams organized, and you can export to many different formats, including vectors and Visio. Gliffy also integrates with Confluence and Jira for de-bugging. Other things to know about Gliffy Diagram include the following:

  • Free Option? No, but there’s a free trial
  • Price: $4.99 per month
  • Platform: Online only
  • Lots of export options
  • Lots of templates and shapes
  • Built-in grid for organization

Cacoo

Simple, effective, and affordable, Cacoo provides pretty much anything you might need, making it a solid choice when it comes to flowchart software. The user interface is simple and easy to understand, and you’ll find templates and shapes available, although the selection could be better. 

Cacoo also allows you to create more than flowcharts, including Venn diagrams and mind maps, which lends some versatility to the software. One high point here is the ability to export your creations as vector files, image files, PowerPoint, and Visio files. What else should you know about Cacoo?

  • Free Option? No, but there is a free trial.
  • Price: $15 per month
  • Platform: Online only
  • Create charts within the software and add them to your flowcharts and diagrams
  • A decent number of templates and shapes
  • Plenty of export options

Beyond flowchart software: creating a thriving business

Whether you’re a Mac user, a PC user, or prefer online choices, there’s a flowchart software option right for you. The choices we’ve outlined above are flexible, easy to use and bring something unique to the table. You’ll be creating accurate flowcharts in no time no matter which one you choose.

However, there’s more to running a successful small business than just creating charts and diagrams in less time. At Smith.ai, we help free your schedule so that you can focus on what you do best. From live receptionists and live chat support to streamlined appointment setting, handling outbound calls, lead qualification, and client intake, we work with you to create a thriving business.

Ready to learn more about how we can help? Call us at (650) 727-6484 or shoot us an email at hello@smith.ai. Feel free to schedule your FREE chat consultation today, too!

Sean Lund-Brown

Sean Lund-Brown is a current Marketing Assistant for Smith.ai. A graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Sean graduated with a BA in Music and an individualized degree in Teaching Vocal Pedagogy.

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