Using Swim Lanes

Last Updated: 09/25/2018 Introduced in Version: 3.2

A Swim lane (or swim lane diagram) is a visual element used in process flow diagrams, or flowcharts that visually distinguishes job sharing and responsibilities for sub-processes of a business process. Swim lanes was introduced in Decisions 3.2. The swim lane flowchart differs from other flowcharts in that processes and decisions are grouped visually by placing them in lanes. Parallel lines divide the chart into lanes, with one lane for each person, group, or subprocess. Lanes are labelled to show how the chart is organized. This tutorial demonstrates how to use the Swimlane component in the Flow Designer.

 

Example:

In this example we are going to create a simple Approval process workflow. This Approval process has 5 participants: a Customer who submits an order, a Sales Representative who reviews and enters the order, a Contract Agent who needs to approve or cancel the order, an Attorney who needs to approve or reject the order on Contract Agent’s request, and a shipment procedure. Swim lane components are useful in this workflow to separate visually the steps for each participant.

We begin in the Designer Folder with clicking Create Flow of the bottom left of the Folder Actions Panel.

 

Then, Name the Approval process and select Create to proceed to the Flow Designer.

 

In the Flow Designer we begin with adding and defining Swim lane components first. Locate the Swim lane component in the Flow Management category in the Tool Box and drag it to the work space.

 

With this Swim lane component selected on the work space, Rename it so it indicates process Participant Name (Customer).

 

Then, add another Swim lane component to the work space.

The second participant of our approval process is Sales Representatives. This participant will probably have some Forms that will be Assigned to the corresponding Group or Users. Configure a default assignment for the Swim lane.

Locate Swimlane Assignment section and change Assignment Type to Group. Next, with the Group picker, select Sales Representatives group.

 

Then, in the similar manner, add Contracts Swimlane and Assign it to the Contract Agents group.

After Contracts, add Legal Swimlane and Assign it to Attorneys group.

Finally, add Fulfillment Swimlane and do not create a default Assignment for this participant. The Swimlane’s width and color can also be configured.

 

After the Swimlanes are defined, start building the approval process.

First, add a Show Form step from the Favorite Steps category and position this step under Customer Swimlane (this is going to be a Form where Customer will be able to submit an order).

 

In the resulting window, Name the Form and select Create to proceed.

 

This Form is designed as following. When finished, save the Form and close the Form Designer.

 

Next, add another Show Form step from the Favorite Steps category next to the First Form in our Flow. Position this step under Sales Swimlane.

 

Then, Name the Form and select Create.

This Form is designed as on the following figure. Sales Rep should Review the Order and provide some Comments for further participants of the process. When Form design is completed, Save and close Form Designer.

 

Back in the Flow Designer, change the Assignment Type for the Sales Rep Form that was just created from InSession to Assigned

Under Assign to and choose Sales Representatives.

 

Next,  add another Show Form step and position it under Contracts Swimlane.

Name the Form Contract Agent Review Order Form and select Create.

This Form is designed for Contract Agents to decide if the Order falls into Standard Terms or not. Save and close Form Designer when finished.

 

Again, back in the Flow Designer, change the Assignment type for this Form to Assigned, then click the edit button, scroll down to Assign to, and choose the Contract Agents group.

 

Next, if the Order falls into ‘Standard Contract Terms’, implement Approved order logic. Drag Send Notification step from the Communication category and position it under Contracts Swimlane.

Then, connect Yes outcome from the Contract Agents Form to this Notification Step.

 

Select Order Approved Notification step on the work space, define Constant Subject, select Text Merge.Plain for the Mapping type for the Message and click Show Editor. Also, define desirable Users or Groups to Notify.

 

In the Text Merge Editor, compose the Message for the Notification using Customer’s First and Last Name variables. Select SAVE to save and close Editor.

 

After the Order Approval logic is implemented for the Contract Agent, we can implement Order Shipping logic in the Fulfillment Swimlane. In this example we simply add another Send Notification step from the Communication category and position it under the Fulfillment Swimlane. Then, connect the Done outcome from the Order Approved Notification to this Pick Order Log Shipment Notification.

 

Configure Pick Order Log Shipment Notification step as the following.

Set Constant for Subject as Order is Shipped, and use Text Merge.Plain for the Mapping type for Message. Select Show Editor to edit the text for the notification.

 

In the Text Merge Editor compose the Message for the Notification and select SAVE to save and continue.

 

Then, add Agent Requests Approval Form and position it under the Legal Swimlane. Connect ‘No’ outcome from the Contract Agent Review Form step to this Form. In the Form configurations we change Assignment Type from InSession to Assigned and assign it to the Attorneys Group in the same process as we have done for the previous form. Note: this Form is added using Show Form step from the Favorite Steps category.

 

Agent Requests Approval Form is designed as on the following figure. Attorney is able to review the Order and either Approve or Reject Order. If Attorney Rejects Order, he or she should provide Rejection Comments.

 

Next, on the workspace we connect the Approve outcome from the Agent Requests Approval Form back to the Order Approved Notification. Then, we add Agent Cancels Order Notification (Send Notification step from the Communication category) under Contracts Swimlane. Connect Reject outcome from Agent Requests Approval Form to Agent Cancels Order Notification step.  We configure Agent Cancels Order Notification with Constant Subject and Text Merge.Plain Mapping type for the Message field. Click Show Editor to compose Message.

 

In the Merge Text Editor, the Message looks like the following. Select SAVE to save and continue.

 

Finally, notify Sales Representative that the Order was canceled. Add a Send Notification step from the Communication category and position it under the Sales Swimlane. 

Configure this Send Notification step with Constant Subject and Text Merge.Plain Mapping type for the Message. Select Show Editor.

 

In the Merge Text Editor compose Message and select SAVE.

 

Then, add End Step from the Flow Management category, Name it and position it under the Contracts Swimlane. Connect Done outcome from the Sales Rep Notification step to this End Step. This completes our Approval Process Flow. Swimlanes help Designer or Flow Editor visually identify which Steps in this process belong to the particular Participants of the process.

To test the  Flow, select Debug on the top panel of the Flow Designer.

 

Customer Form opens in the Debugger, fill it in and Submit.

 

As designed, Order is getting Assigned to the Sales Representatives.

 

Sales Representative reviews the Order, adds Comments and Submits the Order.

 

Next, Order is getting Assigned to the Contract Agents. Contract Agent decides that this Order does not fall into Standard Terms and needs to be approved by Attorney. Select  ‘No’ on the Form.

 

The Order is getting assigned to the Attorneys Group.

 

Review the Order and Reject it with Comments.

 

Contract Agents and Sales Representatives are Notified that Order is canceled and Not Shipped. The Debugger Diagram indicates that our Flow was executed with no issues.

 

Additional Resources