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How to Draw a Perfect Swim Lane Diagram?

> Basic Diagram How-Tos > How to Draw a Perfect Swim Lane Diagram?
Posted by James Freeman | 11/26/2020
This article is about the Swim Lane Diagram and how it shows the operational relationship between the business and its different units.


A Swim Lane Diagram is a flowchart that can distinguish responsibilities and duties. It can be used for projects that extend over several departments and divides channels as per a particular set of objectives. Swim Lane was introduced in the 90s. Checklist and text-based procedures are a thing of the past and not going to work in this competitive world.

It can organize responsibilities in different directions. With this, it is possible to distinguish the objectives of various individuals and departments inside the team. It makes it easy to what your team and also the other team has to accomplish. This is generally used by a multi-department organization for illustrating business processed. It creates operational transparency and efficiency in an organization.

What is a Swim Lane Diagram?

Like mentioned above, Swim Lane Diagram is used in an organization that has multiple departments to illustrate cooperative business models. The departments are put in the vertical lane, while the objectives are put in the horizontal ones.

Each team or department is represented by a lane of its own. These can be used for displaying the objective. It is possible to create loops in the diagram and if and then lanes when the proposed objectives have different outcomes.

Maintenance Swimlane Flowchart

With this, it is easier to work with different departments since it identifies the bottleneck and the objectives. Apart from this, it can also distinguish the team limits in regards to their capacities. Each department will know what the others are doing. This helps to avoid repetitive work by different figures.

Swim Lane flowchart is mainly used for:

  • Marketing
  • Product development
  • Supply chain management
  • Other processes

In simple words, Swim Lane chart shows the relationship between the business process and its functional units which are responsible for the same.

What are the Benefits of Swim Lane Diagram?

These are highly cross-functional flow charts that are versatile and can communicate complicated principles on an intuitive visual level. It helps in building a standardized and integrated process chart across the business which can be analyzed to bring about improvement and look for inefficiencies. Here are some of the key benefits it offers.

Clarifies Complicated Processes

Using a Swim Lane flowchart to organize the process will offer an easy visual explanation for the most complicated relationships. There are several complicated process relationship which isn’t completed brought to light because it involves text and word-based explanations which can be difficult to follow. Moreover, these text-based explanations can be easily ignored.

The process map develops a visual structure for processing workflow and the place, people, and things associated with it. The things which were hidden previously can now be revealed in a comprehensive manner through the Swim Lane process mapping.

With the Swim Lane Diagrams, it is easy to identify and then organize:

  • Department and team responsibilities
  • Inefficiencies and bottlenecks
  • Relationship between different steps, team, and the whole process
  • Redundancies

Redundancies and costly delays will cease to exist from wasted and duplicate efforts and lack of proper documentation. It is the visual aspect of the diagram that the issues become a part of the discussion and turn out to be important places of improvement. When you give any problem a visual structure, it becomes difficult to ignore it and trigger a continuous improvement process.

Improved Understanding and Communication

A diagram for various processes makes it convenient for the executives and also the other employees to understand the process in a better manner. It helps them to understand their duty. The Swim Lane chart shows how a particular department is communicating with the other departments. It is a representation of the entire internal work environment.

When the duties are mapped out, it becomes easier to anticipate the required measures for improving the performance of the organization. Apart from saving resources, it can help in keeping your employees content.

Swimlane Flowchart for Mac

Identifies Participants

Like mentioned above, it is necessary to work out each individual’s and team’s responsibility for the present, as well as future initiatives. This includes every unit of the organization that is associated with a particular task along with all sources of input like data, documents, and employees getting output from these processes like computer system and vendors.

The diagrams can be made with every little detail; a Swimlane flowchart shows where the additional skills or help is required, who is being overworked, which team members aren’t required, and much more.

An All-Purpose Mapping Tool

It makes the understanding process and the visual diagramming flexible enough. Different complexities can be includes for offering map specific detail and overviews. As a matter of fact, it is also possible to include outside process, data, and document into the diagram along with the regular process step, start, decision, and the end icons. There are mainly 6 icons and it can be used for different kinds of process mapping requirements.

Easy Analysis

With the progress of the flowchart, it is checked for problems like duplication, missing steps, activities without real value, and improper time management. By removing all of any of these will help in getting a better result. A Swimlane flowchart will help in bringing about improvements which can be easily spotted through an orderly and visual context.

Preparing for Creating Swimlane Flowchart

Before you start drawing the flowchart with a swim lane flowchart template, it is important to know about the basic symbols.

The Oval

It signifies an end or a beginning. This means that it will represent the start or the end of a process. So, place it at the top when you begin and place the same at the end when you are done with the flowchart.

The Rectangle

This is a step in the process of the flowchart. It serves as the go-to icon. This will represent every step in the whole process and it performs the role of the flowchart diagram’s workhorse.

The Arrow

It guides an onlooker along the path of the flowchart. Even though there are many tips and arrows that you can choose from, it is better to stick to one for the whole flowchart. There might not be any hard and fast Swim Lane Diagram rules but is aesthetically pleasing.

The Diamond

It represents that you have to make a decision. In case there are just two choices, you can simply draw arrows from the diamond on to the following step. In case there are more than one, it can be neatly represented with another decision-making box.

Cross Functional Flowchart

Steps to Draw a Perfect Swim Lane Diagram

You can use Edraw Max for creating a stunning swimlane flowchart. The steps to create the diagram have been given below.

Make a New Document

This is an obvious step. You need to create a new document to start. The layout orientation has to be changed to landscape for mapping the swim lanes conveniently.

Create Swim Lanes

The next step is to create swim lanes. Go to insert and then shapes. Choose the rectangle option. Drag it and then create a size which is suitable for every process of the swim lane. Thereafter, make a smaller one for defining an entity. When you are done, you have to copy and paste it to the other swim lanes on the basis of the number of entities that the process includes.

Name the Lanes

Now, it is time to label the swim lanes. For this, you have to decide on the participating entities. Then go to insert and text box. Insert the name of every entity in each of the lanes.

Map the Process

When you are done labeling, try and visualize the flow chart. For this, you need to know the steps and its orders. Choose the shape from the option shape for each action. Do not forget to connect the flowchart through arrows and lines in proper order for making it easy to understand. At last, you can add colors to the diagram. Every color can have its own meaning. If you use it properly, it might help in saving space and word in the flow chart. This will make it comprehensive and better.

Export to the File Format You Want

After finishing a complete swimlane diagram, you can freely choose to save, export or share your outstanding work. Fortunately, Edraw Max supports various formats of files that you can export your precious file to any formats.


Swim Lane Diagram serves as an important tool for process management in a business. It is easy to map, develop, and understand. Edraw Max can be seen as the best swim lane diagram software with its powerful function, abundant templates and customizability.

It can be applied to various workflows and processed on the basis of the objective you are looking for. When your organization adapts to this, you will find that the business is progressing in a smoother fashion. The flowchart can bring flexibilities and will help the organization to concentrate on one goal and issues at a time. So, it is time to take a look into this visual mapping technique.

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