The process drawing application allows you to add multiple activities, supporting documentation, sticky notes, create sub-processes for each activity in your process and much more. 

This article describes how to use the software to map out your processes. You might want to first check out the article on our process mapping methodology to understand the principles first. 

Article outline:

  1. Video overview
  2. Switching between edit/view modes
  3. Drawing activities and flowlines
  4. Adding resources
  5. Adding additional documentation 
  6. Changing layout of the diagram
  7. Creating drilldowns/sub-processes

Video overview

Watch this video for an overview of how to use our application to draw process diagrams or scroll down to read about it. 

(First tip: why not open this on another device, tab or another screen to refer to while you work through this in Elements.)

Switching between edit/view modes

When you first create a map, Elements knows that you are editing and will open the blank diagram in edit mode. From then on, however, even as an editor, Elements assumes that you are viewing content. So, if you want to edit, once you have opened a diagram, change it to edit mode by clicking on SWITCH TO EDIT in the top-right of your screen.

(If you don’t edit anything for a few minutes, you will lose the edit lock on the diagram and have to click on SWITCH TO EDIT again. Also, the top bar with the edit button may be hidden using the blue arrow buttons)

Drawing activities and flowlines

Activity boxes:

Drag “Activity Box” from the left palette, or if you prefer to close the left panel, double click on the canvas to create an activity box. Double click on an activity box to edit the text.

To Link activity boxes or draw lines:

Roll over an activity box (don’t click) and blue "x" line handles appear outside the edge of the box.

Click and drag a line from the highlighted handle.

Select "Add Activity", terminator or connector as appropriate, or click on the canvas to leave a floating line.

To link existing boxes, drag the end of the line into the center of another activity box or to a specific anchor point to link.

Another way to drag lines out, add boxes, or link boxes, is first to select an existing box:

Click on the "+", then drag, let go, and select “Add activity”.

(Useful tip: hold Ctrl down (cmd on Mac) when you click and drag from an activity box handle or ‘+’ to reverse the direction of the line.)

Line text:

Double click on the line text (or orange dot) to edit. Select the text and then click and drag the text or orange dot to move.

Note: line text does NOT auto-wrap and cannot be sized by dragging. You need to put in (or remove) any returns manually.

Adding resources

You can add single or multiple resources to an activity box. 

Useful resources:

Right click on an activity and select “Add resource”. Start typing the name of the resource in the search box. The list of available resources will appear. If the resource does not exist, click "Create new" in the left bottom corner. 

Adding additional documentation 

At any point you can add additional documentation to either the activities or the canvas of the process itself.

Useful resources:

You can right-click on an activity and choose "Add links" option to attach either a rich text note, a URL link, a data table, or an image to an activity to provide any additional information you need. You can also use the left panel to drag and drop text areas, sticky notes, and images onto the canvas.

Changing layout of the diagram

When you drag activities to move them, alignment guides will automatically appear in the canvas. Alternatively, you can highlight multiple activities and use the "align and distribute" icon on the top bar to tidy up diagrams quickly. See the Alignment and Sizing page if you need more detail.

Creating drilldowns/sub-processes

Why not first have a quick look at this short video snippet:


Right click and select “Add drilldown”. This creates a new diagram which is the "child diagram" of this activity box.

When you initially create a new drilldown, any inputs and outputs to the parent activity are copied to the left and right of the screen as appropriate to guide you as to the scope you should be mapping between. However, these are guides/reminders only – they do not stay in synch. Often a high-level input might be a summary, whereas in the child diagram, that one input becomes multiple detailed inputs.

If you want to delete a drilldown, you right-click on the ‘drilldown’ corner, top-left on the box. Deleted drilldowns will be saved as a map in the "deleted maps" folder. You can get to them on the "maps" window under the Process menu option in the Elements Home browser tab.

Diagram scope and intent:

There are huge benefits to being clear about WHAT you are mapping and WHY – ideally before you start [click for more detail]. You can enter the "diagram intent" in the right-hand panel (click on the blue arrow button to show it/hide it).

Make sure you ALSO go on to review how to manage spaces after this article, which has another video and a Deep Dive on content

Did this answer your question?