Swim Lanes – Pros and Cons

Swim lane (cross functional) diagrams provide a mechanism to easily indicate the department, function, or party responsible for the activities that make up a business process.  As there is often a delay associated with handoffs between lanes, these provide a valuable tool to identify where potential bottlenecks may develop.  When there is a business goal to reduce the turnaround time for a process, swim lane diagrams can provide a quick visual representation to highlight where there may be opportunity to decrease delay or level the workload to reduce utilization of resources.

The trouble with swim lane diagramming, however, is that it draws the attention of the audience towards who is doing the work rather than on what is actually being done.  Additionally, when there are activities with multiple responsible parties, construction of the diagram can become complex as shapes are duplicated and placed in multiple lanes; this obscures representation of the natural flow of the process.

As a compromise, the process diagram may be constructed outside of swim lanes and color-coding can be used to indicate the party responsible for the necessary activities.  With this, the focus remains on process flow, the representation is simplified, and the visual indication of who is responsible and where delays may occur are maintained.  Microsoft Visio provides a very easy way to apply color to shapes via assigning a data attribute (e.g. Resource ) as the Advanced Data Graphic field using "color by value". See Picture below: 

To see how the Bluespring and ProcessView can help you with swim lane analysis, contact us for a demonstration.  To obtain a ProcessView trial, go to www.bluespring.com

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About Bluespring

Bluespring is a software development arm of Ascendum Solutions with a singular focus on helping organizations make work flow in Microsoft SharePoint.  We provide software and services that boost an organizations use of SharePoint to get critical information to the right people at the right time ... Read More

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