Documenting a Process Across Functional Groups | What is a Swimlane Flowchart
Businesses often have internal or external requirements for process documentation. Flowcharts are an excellent tool for these purposes. From standards reporting to complying with government regulations, using a flowchart can be much more efficient than a written narrative.
Here are some examples of external pressures that require process documentation:
- BPM Automation: Documenting processes is a prerequisite for automated BPM (Business Process Management).
- ERP: Documenting processes is required as part of an Enterprise Resource Planning implementation.
- Company Sale: Documenting processes is an important preparation when positioning a company for eventual sale.
- Compliance: Various legislation and regulatory bodies, like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Joint Commission, for example, often require extensive process documentation.
- Customers: Some customers may require ISO or other quality certifications as a prerequisite for doing business.
There may also be internal reasons for using flowcharts to document processes.
- Flexibility: Both new and existing employees can immediately learn the right way to perform any job.
- Quality: If everyone on the team performs a job in the same way each time, the outcome is predictable and consistent.
- Visibility: Management can see exactly how each job is meant to be performed.
- Process Improvement: You can't improve the way your organization gets its work done unless you know how it's being done now.
A basic flowchart will often suffice for process documentation. However, in cases where processes have multiple stages, work across departments, or have other separated categories a swimlane flowchart or cross-functional flowchart may be the better choice. It visually separates the process into separate categories.