Swim Lane Diagram

I use diverse tools and methods, that I have acquired mostly by practicing or learning by doing, during my Assessing, Consulting, Training, Facilitating, Coaching, Mentoring and Advising assignments.

I have been speaking live on LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube, a randomly picked tool or method from my toolbox for the week at 20:30 Indian Standard Time for 10-15 minutes. Last week the topic was Delegation. This week I will be speaking on Swim Lane Diagram and today in my blog, I will briefly explain the Swim Lane Diagram.

Introduction (Monday @ 20:30 IST on LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube): Swim Lane Diagram is the most useful tool for improving productivity in the indirect areas of any company. Normally the touch time will be at best 10-15% of the overall turn-around-time, offering a huge potential for improving the productivity. Any business process is like a relay race where the baton is passed on to the next runner. However, in a business process this baton is almost always difficult to identify. Typically, these information gets captured in a Swim Lane Diagram.

  • Stakeholders involved and the lead stakeholder for each of the process steps along with the location of the process step (Fixed, Mobile, or Virtual).
  • Roles – Responsible, Approval, Support, active team member, Information recipient, may support proactively, Consult, passive team member, will support reactively if requested.
  • Inputs – Information, Reports, Templates, Decisions, Software, Knowhow, doHow, and Resources.
  • Start Criteria – The trigger (Immediately after Previous Step, After some Buffer build up, Alarm Time, When a resource is free, Based on an event like receipt of an eMail, order, signal, etc, Adhoc, as and when possible) to start the process step.
  • Process step and quality assurance hints for maximizing the value-added content and achieving zero defect including the checklists, templates, SOPs.
  • Exit Criteria – The event which concludes the process step (Signature, eMail or message sent, meeting organized, MoM sent, file uploaded to server, data submitted in APP, etc.)
  • Output – Information, Reports, Decision, Document, etc.)
  • Supporting technology – applications (MS Office, SAP, Oracle, Tally, Zoho, Mailchimp, Salesforce, etc.)
  • Times – Turn-around-time, Touch Time, Query Time, etc.
  • Queries – items from upstream process steps needing clarifications.

Application (Tuesday @ 20:30 IST on LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube): Swim Lane Diagram is an excellent tool to understand the current reality of any business process, especially since this naturally drives debate and establishes a common understanding. Just visualizing the complete Swim Lane Diagram is sufficient to change the paradigms of people from diverse functions and to get them to change their mindset and culture for achieving the global optimum.

Cons / Negatives (Wednesday @ 20:30 IST on LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube): It may be quite a challenge to get the entire team together. I have experienced that quite often the process data is not available leading to delays in completing the Swim Lane Diagram. Considering the amount of information, the visualization can become a challenge. Due to the “Divide and Rule” principle, people from some functions may find themselves vulnerable.

Pros / Positives (Thursday @ 20:30 IST on LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube): I am convinced beyond doubt that the Swim Lane Diagram clearly shows how the baton gets passed on between process steps and across functions, leading to a common understanding of the reality for rapidly reducing the non-value added content and naturally reducing the queries.

LIVE DIALOGUE WITH DINAKAR (Friday @ 20:30 IST on LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube): Dialogues and debates are excellent for developing clarity of thought and further learning. I invite you to participate in a live dialogue with me and share your experiences on Swim Lane Diagrams. I will basically function as a facilitator for a discussion. You may please use this link on Friday @ 20:30 IST to join: https://dinakarmurthy.com/live.

Looking forward to meeting you during my live sessions this week,

Happy reading!

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