“Stay in your swim lane” is a statement I am sure many of us have heard during the course of conducting operations, during meetings, or even at home when you begin to stray outside of your assigned family duties. Theoretically, a swim lane is a separation of duties performed by several different actors. For example, an airline pilot and co-pilot each have similar, but separate, duties to perform in order to ensure a safe flight for all passengers on board. Similarly, flight attendants have their list of duties they carry out during the course of the flight. You will never see the pilot and co-pilot performing flight attendant duties, and, unless there are real issues, you should not see the attendants piloting the aircraft.
Swim lane diagrams help an audience to visualize processes as they are. They are also helpful in depicting new processes or re-engineering older processes into “To Be” diagrams. Swim lanes are usually displayed in vertical columns or horizontal rows, and are always presented in chronological order. They are an easy way to identify multiple actors and their roles throughout the completion of a business process. They also help to identify inefficiencies and redundancies that may be limiting team productivity. Although it sounds easy, designing a process diagram is a little more difficult than it sounds. The business analyst must question stakeholders about their processes and begin mapping out their design as they discuss it, being careful not to make changes along the way. Once the “As Is” diagram is complete, if necessary, the team can begin creating a “To Be” diagram which can be used to redesign their processes, or for automation within a new application or program. A new column or row is added each time a new actor is identified, but a rule of thumb is to never exceed five rows or columns because the diagram may become too unwieldy. Please contact us if you require assistance with business process re-engineering or requirements analysis for your new project.