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Microsoft Visio 2013 : Understanding swimlane diagrams, Understanding organization charts

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3/5/2015 10:00:41 PM

Understanding swimlane diagrams

The diagrams of Swimlane are a popular variation on flow charts, because they correct a significant manqu of the flow charts: very few flow charts show which is responsible for each stage or which makes the principal decisions.

A swimlane diagram, on the other hand, is specifically organized by role, function, or department. Each process step is placed into a specific lane based on who does the work or who has the responsibility for that process step. For example, a swimlane diagram with a focus on roles might include lanes marked Accounts Payable Clerk, Accounting Supervisor, and Chief Financial Officer. Similarly, a department-focused swimlane drawing might show lanes labeled Sales, Marketing, Order Processing, and Manufacturing.

A swimlane diagram is also known as a cross-functional flowchart (CFF), because it shows work steps as they cross the functional boundaries in an organization. In this context, individual swimlanes are usually referred to as functional bands.

Regardless of the terminology, swimlane diagrams can be laid out with horizontal or vertical lanes. Using Visio, you can choose the orientation you prefer, as described in the exercise in the following section.

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Tip

Some Visio templates employ additional software, outside of Visio itself, to perform their functions. The cross-functional flowchart diagram is an example of this type of Visio add-in. And, like many add-ins, cross-functional flowcharts present a custom tab on the ribbon, as shown in the following graphic.

Understanding organization charts

A flow chart is typically employed to reflect the structure of an organization while showing with which submits report which. The solution of flow chart of Visio is based on a hierarchical model in which each employee has an owner. Consequently, it does not lend itself to the organizations which use a matrix or any other nonhierarchical structures. However, it is well-suited for most organizations.

The Visio org chart template that has been part of the product since its earliest days has been totally revamped for Visio 2013 and includes exciting new capabilities based on the concept of styles. Each style, accompanied by six brand-new intelligent shapes, provides a totally new look to Visio organization charts. You can switch between styles with one click in order to try out new looks until you find one you like.

You can further customize Visio 2013 charts with a few additional clicks, because the new org chart shapes take advantage of the enhanced themes and embellishments available in Visio 2013. Visio 2013 organization charts also include a long-requested feature: the ability to import photographs, either one shape at a time or in bulk.

The Visio org chart template is assisted by add-in software that is packaged with Visio. The combination of the two simplifies the creation of org charts by handling nearly all of the sizing and spacing chores when you do things like drop an employee shape on top of a manager shape. In addition, the add-in software includes a wizard that you can use to import organization data from Microsoft Excel or other data sources.

The org chart add-in displays an add-in tab on the Visio ribbon whenever an org chart is the active drawing.

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The Visio 2013 Org Chart tab includes many more buttons that in previous Visio versions, making it easier than ever to modify the layout, style, and spacing of your charts. You also have easy access to import and export features, including the ability to import pictures.

At the screen resolution used for the preceding graphic, all 10 new org chart styles aren’t visible without clicking the More button highlighted at the lower right of the Styles pane. With a wide-screen monitor, all 10 styles appear, as shown in the following graphic.

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In the sections that follow, you’ll create a simple org chart manually and a more complex org chart by importing data from an Excel workbook. You’ll also import several dozen photographs and learn how to export org chart data to Excel.

 
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