What is a spaghetti diagram & how to create one
Looking for a way to track, analyze, and optimize the flow of projects, product designs, or data? Try a spaghetti diagram—a visual tool designed to simplify complex processes. It tracks inefficiencies in your workflow, allowing you to quickly spot and resolve issues.
Read on to find out:
- What is a spaghetti diagram
- The benefits of spaghetti diagrams
- A spaghetti diagram case study
- How to make yours the easy way with FigJam's spaghetti diagram template
For design and product teams, efficiency is key to hit launch dates. Spaghetti diagrams (or spaghetti charts) are visual representations of current state workflows that help you spot inefficiencies.
Spaghetti models have been used for decades in lean manufacturing to track and streamline complex workflows – such as team members criss-crossing an office floor plan, or a forklift moving around shop floor workstations. The resulting process map looks like a plate of spaghetti, with tangled lines that reveal indirect, inefficient pathways in standard work processes.
Track and optimize your projects with a free template to get you started.
By applying the spaghetti diagram methodology, design and product teams can:
- Capture current process flows to see what's working – and what isn't
- Pinpoint inefficiencies in workflows
- Define process improvements to reduce waste, waiting times, and bottlenecks
- Refocus team efforts on resource optimization and innovation
An effective diagram doesn't need to be complex—it just needs to show the workflow process so you can spot potential problems accurately. Consider a simple FigJam example of a spaghetti diagram for baking brownies (below). Can you spot the inefficiencies? How would you reduce walking time around the work area, and shorten the total distance to task completion? Are there any unnecessary movements, like loops or sidesteps, where straight lines would be more efficient?
To make your own spaghetti diagram, you can use FigJam’s spaghetti diagram template and this step-by-step guide.
- Gather information. Collect resources to help you capture the movement of people, products, or data involved in your current workflow. UX design research can help you surface relevant insights.
- Plot the process path. Sketch out your process layout. Chart the journey of an individual, item, or data point from start to end. Once you've outlined the basic process, invite team members to help you fill in any gaps.
- Use color-coding. Apply different colors to highlight key people, products, data, and documents as they move through your process flow.
- Measure and document. Quantify the time involved to complete each step of your process. Then analyze your data to pinpoint process improvements. Are there ways to speed up hand-offs or approvals? Are there redundant efforts you can eliminate?
- Map out your ideal state. Now that you've captured your current state, diagram your ideal state. When you remove unnecessary efforts, where can you save time and resources? How can you refocus efforts at these points to innovate and add value?
You can untangle complex processes with FigJam's spaghetti diagram template and these pro tips:
- Use drag-and-drop features to outline your spaghetti diagram, then share it with your team to collect feedback on the fly.
- Want to get creative? Browse diagram examples from Figma's design community.
- When you’re ready to present your work, FigJam's presentation-ready strategic planning templates add extra polish.
Ready to streamline workflows?