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What Are Swimlane Diagrams, and How do you Create One?

Swimlane is used by corporate organizations to visually differentiate job processes and responsibilities. It clarifies business processes, thus eliminating delays, mistakes, or slacking off. Swimlanes bring understanding to a business environment showcasing who does what and who is responsible for what.

What makes the swimlane unique is that it helps reduce overflow and repetition of tasks in a separate department. You also get to know the strength of each department and their output.

The swimlane diagram is another form of flowcharts. It is called a swimlane because it takes the shape of a swimming pool. The lanes are columns that visually separate actions from one another.

How to create a swimlane flowchart

In this section, we will be talking about how you can create your swim lane diagram for your business or organization.

Before creating your diagram, you need to know what data to include. Data include the department, sub-groups, committees, etc. It is critical to ensure that the data depicted in the diagrams are the ones involved in resolving the issues at hand. It is also critical to ensure that the diagram does not contain excessive data. The number is usually between 4 and 12, as less would make the swim lane unnecessary, and more would make the graph too chaotic.

5 crucial elements to get started with swimlane creation

  • Where do you start? This is the starting point where you need to create the flowchart.
  • Who needs to be on the diagram? You need to select the data that will take part in the process? It is critical not to have too many or too few participants.
  • What is the action needed in the flowchart? Knowing the actions required for the process is one of the most important steps in creating an efficient swim lane diagram.
  • How should the diagram look? As simple as it may appear, this is the most important step of all. Because creating the correct sequence of actions would result in achieving the desired goal of a Swim Lane diagram.

Now let’s talk about the steps involved in creating a swim lane diagram.

If you don’t want to stress yourself, you can pick a swimlane flowchart template from the catalog of a flowcharting tool like Zen. It’s easier to create swimlanes using templates than to create them from scratch.

Zenflowchart is a free flowcharting tool that lets you create all sorts of flowcharts, including swimlane flowcharts.

However, if you want to create from scratch, follow these steps:

  • Open a fresh workspace on Zen.
  • Use Zen’s 1-click node creation feature to draw out the number of nodes you want in your diagram. The number of nodes should equal the number of entities expected in your swimlane. Once you drag the nodes, Zen will automatically add the connecting lines. Don’t forget to add the rights shapes and symbols where necessary.
  • After drawing the outline shapes for the Swim Lane diagram, the next step is to label the swim lanes. To do so, simply tap on a node to enter the entity’s name in each lane.
  • After you have finished labeling the participants, you should try to visualize the flow chart.

The benefit of using Swimlane

The following are the benefits of using swimlane in your organization:

1.   It helps to explain difficult processes

Swim Line makes it easy for organizations to achieve their goals and pass information across departments. It carefully explains what each department needs to accomplish and who to interact with during a project. By providing a visual representation, Swim lane;

  • Helps to remove any form of confusion and repetition in the organization.
  • Improves the relationship among different departments in an organization.
  • Clearly states the duties, responsibilities, and goals of every department.
  • Helps to point out congestion in the workforce.

In all, it is easy to solve issues with swimlane.

2.   It helps in communication and understanding

Another benefit of swim lane is that it gives a better understanding between the executives and employees. It also shows how different departments within the organization communicate with each other.

The duties and responsibilities are clearly defined. You can anticipate potential bottlenecks and take the necessary steps to improve your organization’s overall performance. This will save you money while also keeping your employees happy.

Swim lane answers questions like:

  • What now?
  • Who’s next?
  • Is this the expected result?

3.   Point out participants

A Swim Lane diagram typically contains 4 to 12 entities, ranging from departments to teams to specific employees. The Swim Lane diagram’s visual chart allows you to identify the participants and their sequence in the process. These entities’ input and output are also identified.

When drawing the Swim Lane diagram, one can also go into greater detail, identifying: the employees in each entity responsible for specific details in the sub-process, what skills are required or not, and the unnecessary individuals involved. These superfluous skills and individuals can be more useful in another process.

4.   It gives more light to flexibility

Another important thing to look out for when using the swim lane diagram is its flexibility. It is easy to understand and explain the complex process. The flowchart also allows you to add symbols and data to your diagram.

Again, you can decide the way you want your diagram to look – horizontally or vertically. It all depends on how you want to place your information.

Lastly, it can assist you in developing new perspectives and emphasizing details and roles.

5.   Analysis and improvement

Swim Lane diagrams can aid in your efforts for continuous improvement because they provide a detailed view of a business process. More specifically, you can check for any errors that may occur during the process without having to wait for it to finish. These are some examples of errors:

  • overlooked steps
  • Duplications
  • Bad time management
  • Wasted effort
  • “No values” roles

Finding such issues allows you to identify areas that require improvement. As a result, you will be able to address the issues more effectively and clearly. With the aid of swimlanes, you can map out issues or replace them with better solutions. You can also identify risks and potential rewards.

Problems using swim lane diagram

  • Insufficient details
  • Lack of physical communication
  • Lack of effective communication and understanding of lower-level employees.
  • Disregards organization structure
  • Lacks depth

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