Learn the history and popular uses for dozens of diagrams, charts, and visuals.

Swim Lane Diagram

A Swim Lane Diagram is a type of Flowchart, and it can be used to display the same type of information. What makes a Swim Lane Diagram unique is that the Flowchart objects are kept in lanes (that is, columns), grouping them together. These lanes help visualize stages, employees, departments, or any other set of separated categories.

Swim Lane Flowchart Diagram
Typical Uses

Swim Lane Diagrams are useful whenever a Flowchart must be organized into categories.

Best Practices
  • Identify the lanes. Decide how to divide the main topic into groups, which will be represented by swim lanes. Draw vertical lines, equally spaced on the page, to create the swim lanes. Construction can be made quick and easy using the Swim Lane Diagram template offered by SmartDraw.
  • Start your chart. Define the start point the process or system to be visualized. Add a rounded rectangle to the top of the appropriate swim lane to indicate that start point and label it.
  • Add a line. If the next process will be in the same swim lane as the start point, draw a short arrow from the bottom of the start point. If it will be in a different swim lane, draw an arrow from the side of the start point to the swim lane the process will be in.
  • Add a process. At the point of the arrow, draw a rectangle and write a brief description of it inside. Continue in this manner. A rectangle with rounded corners represents an alternate process, a diamond represents a decision, a parallelogram represents data input/output, and there are many other symbols as well.
  • Add a line. Connect each box with an arrow to indicate the flow.
  • Verify accuracy. Consult with all stakeholders to verify accuracy.

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