Process mapping is a tool used to visualise the different steps involved in a process. A key ingredient to successful process mapping is the crystal clear understanding of a process or system. When people are not sure of their role or how they fit into the organisational equation, projects often experience delays and bottlenecks. Swim-lanes are similar to flowcharts, making it easy for all users to visualise each role and step involved in completing a process from start to finish. Swim-lanes split up a large project or process into designated lanes of responsibility. You can use swim-lanes to delegate responsibility for a specific set of tasks to departments or individuals. This way, Swim-lanes can be used to plan out projects but can be used to identify bottlenecks in existing processes.
To use a swim-lane. first, you need to choose which way you want your swim-lanes to flow, horizontally or vertically. Once you’ve figured that out, Label the different lane columns, which could include participants, departments, or workgroups. Next, add the sequential process steps in their appropriate swim-lanes using standard flowchart symbols or boxes. Remember to include the connections between the different lanes showing how each step relates to the different task or departments/individuals as you add them in. Record your process as-is, but keep an eye out for gaps, duplication, bottlenecks, and other issues. If you’re creating a swim-lane diagram for a new process, remember to go into as much detail as possible when explaining process steps that could potentially improve efficiency and quality. Remember to record the process times and lead times for each task to get a better understanding of the efficacy of the process.