Swimlane Diagram

Swimlane Diagram Template

Bring clarity to your processes and define roles and responsibilities with the Swimlane Diagram Template. Say goodbye to messy workflows and welcome Agile ways of working.

About the Swimlane Diagram Template

When processes start to get messy, it’s a good idea to take a step back and visualize who does what and when. Enter: the swimlane diagram. This digestible, one-stop visual representation uses the metaphor of lanes in a pool to add clarity to complex processes.

What is a swimlane diagram?

A swimlane diagram takes a familiar physical place (a lap pool) and turns it into a metaphor for organizing processes within a team, workgroup, department, or multilayered organization.

If you’ve ever been to a lap pool, you’ll know it’s divided into lanes by long floating ropes.

Using the ropes and lanes as guidelines, many people can swim laps at once without bumping into each other and can always find the other end of the pool.

Teams and companies are organized for the same reason. Everyone has a job description and a set of consistent responsibilities to keep them from “straying into each other’s lanes” — that is, interfering with each other or wasting time on redundant work.

A swimlane diagram is typically formatted like a flowchart divided into several lanes. Each lane is associated with a department, like development, marketing, or sales. Lanes can also correspond to entities outside your company, like customers or third-party vendors.

Shapes in the lanes represent all the processes within the scope of the diagram. Arrows show how those objects feed information and/or materials to each other.

In the end, a swimlane diagram looks a lot like a flowchart but also incorporates elements of an org chart and value stream map. It shows you what gets done, who does it, and how everything happens.

Benefits of a swimlane diagram

Swimlane diagrams are a simple, visually appealing way to simplify processes that would otherwise be overly complex.

The larger an organization grows, the more different functions it takes on. If you’re not careful, it’s easy for those functions to get siloed off from each other, leading to miscommunication and delays. A swimlane diagram is a great way to plan cross-functional collaboration.

You can also use a swimlane diagram to troubleshoot problems in an existing workflow. By mapping out a process, you can locate inefficiencies and bottlenecks that slow work down. For example, if one lane is much more full than the others, try thinking of ways to take the burden off that function.

How do you make a swimlane diagram?

Get started by selecting the Miro Swimlane Diagram template, then follow these steps to make it your own.

1. Be clear about your goals

Before you start diagramming, determine your desired outcome. Remember that swimlane flowchart templates are best for visualizing how multiple contributors or teams work through the stages of a process.

2. Name your swimlanes and start mapping out a process

Customize the swimlane flowchart to add the name of each team member, function, or stakeholder. Don’t forget to include outside stakeholders, like customers or contractors.

3. Interview stakeholders to get their input

Conduct quick interviews with every stakeholder on the draft diagram to find out how their responsibilities fit into the broader process. Add objects for each step they perform.

4. Add arrows to finish your flow mapping

Arrows show the flow of responsibilities from one step to the next. They can stay within lanes or cross lane boundaries. Add an arrow whenever one step triggers another or makes it possible.

Remember that there’s no wrong way to draw your pool. You can use as many lanes as your process demands and arrange them from north to south or east to west.

Swimlane diagram example

As you can see, a swimlane diagram helps you visually organize all the steps and stakeholders of your processes. It’s the perfect diagram to manage functions that involve different departments, such as transactions with B2B clients.

In this case, you’d add a swimlane for each of the departments involved, such as customer service, sales, inventory, and payment. You’d also add lanes for the client and the payment system itself. Objects might include making the sales calls, recording the orders, processing payment, delivering the item, and being available for customer service.

Connect each step with the ones that follow it — an order leads to payment, payment leads to shipping and delivery, and so on. Once you finish it, you’ll have an excellent overview of your sales process.

FAQ about the Swimlane Diagram template

What is the purpose of a swimlane diagram?

A swimlane diagram is a way to understand a multi-faceted business process in a single glance. By structuring a typical flowchart as a series of lanes, the diagram shows who is responsible for each step of the process and the order in which they work. You can use them to plan new processes or optimize existing ones.

How do you make a Swimlane Diagram?

You can start making your swimlane diagram using Miro's pre-made template. The template helps you to diagram the swimlanes easier, as you can add more rows and columns according to your needs. After you set your swimlane flowchart template, start adding the roles and process steps to it. Then, assign responsible departments or people to the swimlanes and connect the steps with arrows and lines.

Swimlane Diagram Template

Get started with this template right now.

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