What is a Swimlane?

Swimlanes are a critical component of process documentation via process mapping for businesses. They reveal who is responsible for which aspects of a process. Assign swimlanes to individuals, roles, departments, groups within departments, or to applications, systems of applications or databases. However, they can also represent geographical regions. This shows exactly at what point work is ready for hand-off, who it is being sent to and why. Processes fail when workers have uncertainty. When workers are uncertain when they are ready to submit their work, it doesn’t matter if they complete their tasks perfectly. It is still an inefficient process overall with room for improvement. They connect roles together so that everyone can make sense of their place within a process.


An example of a swimlane in a process map made on the Gluu platform

Gluu’s swimlanes are horizontal lanes upon which you will find the shapes representing the rest of the process map, such as activities, events and decisions. On their left, you can see the role assigned to each swimlane. In our example of a creating and promoting content process map below you can see the following swimlanes: Marketing Manager, Knowledge Producer and Webmaster. This means that the Marketing Manager is responsible for Setting objectives for an article, approving the article and evaluating results. In some instances, multiple roles may be responsible for the same activity or part of the process. In this scenario, you can add multiple roles to a swimlane. As well as using colours to show e.g. a system role so you highlight what a system does and what people are expected to do.

Further Resources:


Explore more about different process improvement terms in our BPM Glossary.

Louie A

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Louie A

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