How to Create a Swim Lane Chart (Deployment Chart)


One way to create a process flow diagram involves using the swim lane or deployment chart. This type of chart is good when you need to emphasize the "who" in the process and is also good when you want to spot the handoffs between job functions or departments.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper
  • Sticky notes
  • Pen
  • Computer
  • Visio
  • Wall
  • Identify your project team, which should include subject matter experts in each area depicted within the process map.

  • Brainstorm the various steps with your team. Write the steps on sticky notes and place them on either a board or wall. This will allow you to move the steps around as you are brainstorming their order. Also keep note of the various job functions or departments.

  • Once you feel that you have laid out all of the steps within the process, go through them step-by-step with the project team to finalize them.

  • Once they are agreed upon, you are now ready to map it out with a process mapping software tool. Microsoft Visio works well, although there are many other mapping programs, including iGrafx and Nimbus.

  • Lay out the various departments on the left hand side of the chart, one on top of the other. Each job function or department will have its own horizontal line on the chart, which will illustrate the "swim lanes." The top lane is always designated as the customer of the process.

  • Starting from the left, go in time sequence and place the different tasks into the swim lane of the department or job function that performs that task. Use connecting lines to show the sequence of the tasks.

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  • Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images
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