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I will soon be conducting a Value Stream Mapping Session for a Clothing Design team.
My notes tell me to “Map the Current State with a Swim Lane Flow Chart” and then “Draw the Process Flow” – I can’t tell the difference between these two things!
Are they just two elements of the same process map?
A swim lane flow is a process flow with another dimension that distinguishes what area is responsible for the step in the box. If you google swim lane you will see what they look like, if you have five or less departments involved, they are fairly easy to make in Visio
So by comparison a Process Flow is the same thing but at a top-level, without assigned responsibilities?
Matt: Not exactly. A process flow just shows the steps and connections. A swim lane adds another dimension which has swim lanes that run horizontally with the various tasks put into the appropriate swim lane. Thus, you can see who is responsible and the sequence of tasks, and the linkages. The level of detail can be the same for both.
It is also called as Cross Functional Process map. Some times even the time dimension is added on the horizontal scale so that we can show how much time each activity takes. An activity which is shown on left side of the swim lane map occurs first and the activities to the right side happen later. The activities which are seen in one vertical plane are assumed to be occurring at one time. So there are several other dimensions that can be added to a Cross Functional Process map.
MS Visio is good tool to draw Swim lane process maps.