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Swimlane Diagram Tools: Usage, Benefits, Selection Criteria

Swimlane Diagram Tools: Usage, Benefits, Selection Criteria

Dedicated Swimlane Diagram Software for Process Optimization

A swimlane diagram  can be a great resource for process documentation and management – visually outlining task sharing and responsibilities for sub-operations within a business process involving multiple departments. It can serve to implement new process steps, keep your flow of work and communication organized, or map a process from onset to outcome. This is why every process manager should have a quality swimlane diagram-making tool in their arsenal.

Below we will talk about the features of a robust swimlane diagram creator and what it can do for you. Use the following guidelines to make an informed decision:

  1. What is a Swimlane Diagram software
  2. Benefits of using a dedicated tool
  3. How to choose the right software

1. What Is Swimlane Diagram Software

Swimlane diagram software refers to any program or app that can generate process flowcharts that group sub-processes by agent and show how their efforts interconnect to complete that process. Placing key operations in vertical or horizontal lines assigned to certain employees, teams or departments, the produced visuals serve as a formalized standard of integrating processes across an organization.

Among the swimlane diagram tools available, templates  can be a great starting point for building simple visuals that spell out a process or workflow. However, using a dedicated swimlane diagram maker can ensure better results as it will automate many of the actions involved in the creation of cross-functional flowcharts, namely:

  • Outline the process that needs to be documented and visualized;

  • Break the overall work down into manageable pieces;

  • Group these sub-processes into clearly outlined swimlanes;

  • Associate each swimlane with a particular agent;

  • Illustrate the connections and relations between lanes.

2. Benefits of Using a Dedicated Tool

You can create your next swimlane diagram in your usual Microsoft Office apps – all you need to do is to follow our simple swimlane diagram tutorials . However, using a purpose-built tool instead will make process management easier because:

  • It helps clarify and communicate complex processes to an entire team – clearly defining who does what and when with well-laid-out swimlane diagrams leads to improved workflows and visibility over how different people, departments and systems interact.

  • It speeds up the documentation, analysis and optimization of your processes – quality swimlane diagram software enables you to quickly build high-level visuals that streamline workflows, highlight redundancies and reduce inefficiencies.

  • It fosters effective communication and promotes collaboration – by defining who is responsible for individual tasks and how they impact others in the process, a good swimlane diagram maker allows you to work with others on the same chart and, well, page.

3. How to Choose the Right Software

What should you look for when reviewing your swimlane diagram software options? Here are some of the most relevant evaluation criteria:

  • User Interface (UI) - being a visualization tool, a quality swimlane diagram creator needs to feature a clean design and attractive presentation options that allow you to easily share your flowcharts with clients and teams;

  • Usability - the best swimlane diagram makers are easy to learn and master, and come with a diverse library of diagram templates to get you started faster; does the software company offer free trials, good technical support, comprehensive training and tutorials?

  • Functionality - in terms of features, the swimlane diagramming program that you intend to use should include:

    • a drag&drop interface to easily add, arrange, and align shapes and grids;

    • a large variety of graphical elements (standard shapes such as ovals, diamonds; connectors) and formatting/customization options (object and text color, size, position) to work with;

    • collaboration capabilities such as comments, alerts/notifications, or real-time groupware function that lets multiple users edit the same diagram simultaneously;

    • data import features to automate the creation of your swim lane diagrams;

    • export functionality to make your visual easy to share and export in a range of formats;

  • Integrations – look for solutions that easily connect and integrate with other popular planning tools or the ones already used in your organization.

Need a more detailed research on swimlane diagram software? Check out our list of the 10 best swimlane diagram tools for project management .

Your must-have Swimlane Diagram tool

Office Timeline is a swimlane diagram maker that every Project Manager should be using for their project meetings.

Swimlane Diagram Made in PowerPoint