You can use departments to display the flow of information and materials between different roles, groups or organizational units. These departments, or lanes, show a division of work that is apparent without disturbing the overall flow of the process.
Since Swimlane charts help identify what happens in each department during a process, they are good tools for tracking time and quality management.
As a model operates, ProcessModel can visually communicate the handoffs between departments. These points become opportunities to reduce errors and miscommunication.
ProcessModel refers informally to departments as Swimlanes because the graphic representation of the departments resembles a swimming pool with separate travel lanes marked for each participant (or department). In the model, you depict the activities of each department in its separate area on the chart and watch them operate in relationship with each other.
The intelligent departments in ProcessModel combine a flow chart’s depiction of logic with an interaction diagram’s depiction of responsibility. In process diagramming, departments help show how tasks flow through groups such as manufacturing and customer service toward a final outcome or creation of a product. Many processes contain sub-processes that appear in their own departments.
Shapes behave the same in departments as they do on a normal diagram page. You can still connect lines, edit points, size, move, delete, change the text, or change the color of shapes. In addition, you can:
- Name departments
- Set the vertical or horizontal orientation of departments
- Expand or shrink departments
- Reorder departments
- Move the location of department names
Setting Up Swimlanes
This section contains a tutorial in which you will create a ProcessModel with several departments. Setting Up Departments: Basic Procedures contains a series of basic procedures you will use to create that ProcessModel. These procedures will be a useful reference as you build future models.
In creating this Swimlane chart, you will learn to:
- Create lanes using the Department tool
- Label department headers
- Label department shapes
- Connect shapes between lanes
- To change Swimlane properties, right mouse click on your Swimlane chart. Click Properties to add departments and change settings such as colors, department names, line styles, and lane widths.
Step 1: Creating and Naming Departments
You will create a ProcessModel of an organization with four departments.
How To – Create and Name Departments
- Click the File menu, and point to New Process.
- Click on the Department symbol on the left toolbar.
- The Insert Departments dialog box appears. In the Insert Departments dialog box, both the Department Orientation and the Text Orientation should be set to Horizontal.
- To create a vertical swimlane choose Vertical.
- In the display box, click the default department name. ProcessModel highlights the default name Dept. 1.
- Click Edit.
6. Type Sales and click Add. ProcessModel displays a model with Sales as the label on the first department.
- When you create departments for the first time in a diagram, you can set the department orientation and text orientation for headers. After you have created your departments, you edit them in the diagram space.
7. Click the Department tool. The Insert Department screen appears. Click Add.
8. In New Department Name, type Shipping. Click Add. The new department name Shipping appears on the Department list.
9. Click Add again. In New Department, type Mfg. Click Add.
10. Repeat steps 5 and 6 to add Accounting (Acct.) to the Department list.
11. Click OK and the completed Swimlane chart appears, showing the four departments.
Step 2: Placing Processes in each Department
You will place an entity and a series of process steps in the ProcessModel. You will also show the process route that the entity will follow through these steps.
How To – Place and label processes
1. Go to the Palette and click on the first item (the green globe). The green globe will be the entity that flows through the process steps.
2. Place the globe in the Sales Department by clicking in the blank Swimlane to the right of the box labeled Sales. (ProcessModel will not allow you to place the globe in the department label space.)
3. To place a Process related to the green globe entity, go to the Palette and click on the Process symbol (rectangle).
4. Click on the globe on your model, hold down the mouse, and drag the Process symbol to the right. The ProcessModel route shows that Process involves the globe entity.
5. To add a second process, go to the Palette, and click on the Process symbol. Click in the activity called Process and drag to the right and then down.
(Notice that the Swimlane expands vertically to accommodate Activity2 2.) Activity 2 is now linked to Process by a route.
- If any part of a graphic (entity, activity, resource, etc.) touches a department divider, then the department will expand to encompass that shape. When a graphic is moved into the next department, the preceding lane department lane will shrink to the minimum size possible to encompass the remaining graphics.
6. To change the department in which Process 2 occurs, click on the edge of Process 2 and drag it down into the Manufacturing department. The process route line automatically lengthens to reach into the new department and the sales department lane resizes to fit the remaining graphics.
To create an activity spanning multiple departments of a Swim-lane chart, after placing an activity in a department of the swimlane, select the activity, press ctrl and right-click on any one of the eight black handles on the frame, hold down while you drag the handle and “stretch” the activity across multiple departments.
7. To place the next process in the Shipping department, select the Process activity from the Palette, click on Process 2, and drag to the right, and then up into the Shipping lane.
8. Repeat this procedure to place Process 4 in the Accounting Department. (If the box representing Process 4 crosses the dotted line on the screen, it means that the model is wider than the 8-1/2 by 11-inch page.)
Step 3: Reordering Departments
You will reorder the Departments into this sequence: Sales, Manufacturing, Shipping, and Accounting.
How To – Reorder Departments
1. Click on the department label of the Manufacturing department. The box will be highlighted.
2. Click any area on the frame between the black squares. The cursor changes to four arrows.
3. Drag the Manufacturing lane to a position above the Shipping lane. The four lanes or departments now appear in this order: Sales, Manufacturing, Shipping, and Accounting.
4. The processes in the four lanes realign automatically to simplify the routing lines.
Step 4: Renaming a Department
You will rename the Sales department as the Sales Organization department.
How To – Rename a Department
1. Click on the Sales department label. Click on the word Sales. The Text tool becomes highlighted and the cursor changes to a text cursor.
2. Position the Text tool at the end of the word Sales and add the word Organization. Notice that part of the word wraps to the next line.
3. To widen the title box, click on the Selector tool and drag the right side of the box to the right. The label will now appear on one line.
4. On the File menu, click Close. Click No when prompted to save the chart.
How To – Insert a department
1. On the Insert menu, click Department or click the Department tool.
2. In the Insert Departments dialog box, type in the name of the new department and click Apply.
3. Click OK.
How To – Set the lane orientation of departments
1. Click the Department tool.
2. Under Department Orientation, select Horizontal or Vertical.
3. Click OK.
- You can only set the lane orientation