Using workflows in project planning

Describing project workflows for collaboration and communication

Amanda Whitmire (Stanford Libraries & Hopkins Marine Station)

Workspace setup

Load the Libraries we need.

Taking a look at the big picture

Today I took a step back from programming to suss out what I think my text analysis work flow might look like. This will change, of course, as the methods of my analysis change, but it’s been very helpful to go through the process of lining up what I’m actually doing.

I started out by making a detailed outline of the process in Google Sheets. This is a process that I picked up from Nicole Coleman, who I am collaborating with on another Collections as Data project to look for species occurrences in a time-series of student papers from Hopkins Marine Station. She came up with the general layout and columns, and I really like it.

I find it very helpful to be able to capture details like what tools we are using, and what the inputs and outputs of each step are. It’s almost at the level of being a methods section for a readme file (but I wouldn’t go that far).

I also wanted to make a more visual diagram, so I played around with that, too. My colleagues recommended Google Drawings for basic workflow diagrams, and OmniGraffle for more complicated ones. I tried both!

Google Drawings

~ free, quick & easy! ~


~ 14-day trial, more like Illustrator but pretty easy to pick up ~

Bottom line

The two workflow diagrams aren’t substantively different, but the OmniGraffle one is a bit more showy. The tools in Google Drawing were very intuitive to use (adding arrows, making connections, etc.), and I can share it with you directly. All in all, I would recommend either one depending on how much control you’re after. In terms of this project, you can expect both the spreadsheet and the diagram to evolve along with the project. If you have any favorite diagram tools or methods, please let me know!


If you see mistakes or want to suggest changes, please create an issue on the source repository.


For attribution, please cite this work as

Whitmire (2021, Aug. 16). Seaside Librarian: Using workflows in project planning. Retrieved from

BibTeX citation

  author = {Whitmire, Amanda},
  title = {Seaside Librarian: Using workflows in project planning},
  url = {},
  year = {2021}