Swimlane Diagram

 

O'PEEP'S SWIMLANE DIAGRAM EXPLANATION 

You wonder why this process takes so long and why it is so much effort? Now, you have talked to 5 people in 3 different departments. Everybody tells you he/she is always waiting for the others, and “the others” never deliver complete information. Not having this complete information leads to a new loop which in turn leads to more efforts and it takes even longer… Time to organize this mess and do a Swimlane Diagram! 

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A Swimlane Diagram is a process map that visualizes who does what in a process. It is possible to visualize the process steps over a timeline. A Swimlane Diagram makes tasks very transparent and gives a clear view of handovers that slow down the process. Typically a Swimlane is done in a group , just to make sure that everybody can visualize and understand how the process is mapped. The group will give you a lot of input on what to put where.

HOW TO CREATE A SWIMLANE DIAGRAM? 

To create a Swimlane Diagram you either take a big brown paper and put it on the wall, or you use a program for it.

  1. Clarify purpose for mapping this process. Decide where the process you want to map starts and where it ends.
  2. Identify functional areas, roles and people involved in the process.
  3. Start the diagram by asking the team: “Who is doing the first step? …And what is the first step?”
  4. Write all following activities and decisions by asking “Who is doing what?” for each activity. Are there short-cuts, feedback loops, double communications?
  5. In parallel: Put in comments coming from the group.
  6. Connect the activities until the picture becomes clearer.

 

Good example for Swimlane Diagram. How to create a Swimlane Diagram?

EXAMPLE OF SWIMLANE DIAGRAM 

Generating new eLearnings takes much too long, and it takes a lot of effort. There are so many loops - it is also frustrating everyone. We were wondering why, and how to improve. So, we developed a Swimlane Diagram. Please have a look and give us your ideas on how we can improve!


PRACTITIONER'S TIPS:

  • If you are working paper-based in a meeting room use a horizontal Swimlane. 
  • If you are working with a software where you can scroll-down endlessly, work with a vertical Swimlane(see the example).
  • If you work by sticking post-its on your Swimlane, you are flexible and can continuously adapt your picture to the input you are getting.
  • Write a verb for each activity. This makes sure that you really focus on the actions, not just the current status of an item or service in the process.

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You want to learn more about Process Mapping? Some exercises would be helpful, so check out our eLearning on Process Mapping.

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