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How to Create a Swimlane Diagram in PowerPoint

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Running a project where accountability is key? Need to know who does what on each part of that project? It helps to know how to create a swimlane diagram in PowerPoint. This visual blends not only tasks and actions, but also who is accountable.

When you learn how to insert swimlane in PowerPoint slides, you set your team up for success. This visual makes it clear who does what. This tutorial covers how to create a swimlane diagram so that your project is sure to succeed!

What Is a Swimlane Diagram? (And Why Should You Use One?)

Project management is an art. You've got an impossible number of tasks to monitor, manage, and adjust.

Every great project manager has tools and techniques they use. A common favorite is Gantt charts, which help you visualize task timelines and how a project fits together.

Gantt chart exampleGantt chart exampleGantt chart example
Gantt charts show project tasks and timeline but lack specific accountability unlike swimlanes.

Data visuals like this are powerful ways to illustrate steps in a process. You can show off how actions and activities fit together. Plus, you can avoid wordy, boring slide decks.

Learn more about Gantt charts in these articles:

So, what's a swimlane diagram in PowerPoint? A swimlane diagram is a type of Gantt chart that shows specific functions and roles in a process. Swimlane diagrams expand on Gantt charts and show exactly who handles each key function.

A Gantt chart doesn’t show who is responsible for each key function. Who is in charge of sales? Who kickstarts the production process? But with a swimlane diagram, you can track both milestones and stakeholders at once. And it’s all done in a clear, easy-to-read style that’s simple to understand. 

Consider a company with four main functions:

  1. design
  2. assembly
  3. shipping
  4. marketing

The development process itself could be shown with a basic Gantt chart. But unless you use a swimlane PowerPoint, it's unclear who is accountable for each.

How to insert swimlane in PowerPoint presentationHow to insert swimlane in PowerPoint presentationHow to insert swimlane in PowerPoint presentation
A swimlane diagram maps out stakeholders in their own lanes - just like an Olympic swimming pool! (Image source: Envato Elements.)

Great project managers know how to insert swimlane in PowerPoint slides. It creates visibility for the team and drives the right type of conversation. They’re a vital way to boost understanding and drive accountability from your team. Read on to learn the skill.

How to Create a Swimlane Diagram in PowerPoint

Let’s learn how to create a swimlane diagram in PowerPoint. As mentioned, your best bet is to start with a premium template from Envato Elements. With thousands of designs to choose from, the perfect option for you is right around the corner!

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create a swimlane diagram in PowerPoint. It only takes a few quick steps.

Gantt chart swimlane PowerPointGantt chart swimlane PowerPointGantt chart swimlane PowerPoint
The premium Gantt Chart PowerPoint Templates have 30 slides that you can customize into swimlane diagrams.

Want to follow along with our tutorial? Hit Envato Elements and download the beautiful premium Gantt Chart PowerPoint Templates today.

1. Survey the Included Slides

With the Gantt chart PowerPoint Templates open, you’ll see the beauty of a premium template. On each slide, you’ll find a beautiful Gantt chart design already in place! You won’t have to build graphics from scratch.

Again, let’s think of why to add a swimlane diagram PowerPoint. The goal here is to map out a project visually, while identifying key stakeholders.

A Gantt chart, by default, does only the first of these two objectives. But a Gantt chart is easy to convert into a swimlane diagram. And you can do it in just a few clicks.

Swimlane PowerPointSwimlane PowerPointSwimlane PowerPoint
The template features stylish Gantt chart designs, easily converted to swimlane diagram PowerPoints.

Let’s return to our example of a fictional company with four functional areas. Remember, our goal is to show off the process of creating and launching a new product.

At the same time, we want our audience to recognize stakeholders and how each function owns certain parts of the process. In other words, this is the perfect opportunity to build out a swimlane PowerPoint diagram.

2. Choose a Swimlane PowerPoint Chart Slide

To begin, let’s start by scrolling through the swimlane diagram PowerPoint. As you can see, there are many designs here that are good candidates for our project. The trick is to choose one that closely resembles the layout you've got in mind. This makes the customization process much easier.

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Slide #20 is a great candidate for a swimlane diagram PowerPoint.

Let’s work with slide #20 here in the deck. Notice that it’s labeled “Gantt chart - 4 quarters.” Think of each quarter as a separate function in our corporate process. Remember: the text you see on premium templates is merely placeholder content. You can quickly swap it out to say whatever you want!

3. Construct Swimlanes on a Chart

Think of why a swimlane diagram has that name. Picture an Olympic swimming pool: each swimmer has their own marked lane of travel, side by side. That’s exactly how swimlane diagrams are illustrated! Each function (or individual contributor) has its own lane, which is represented by a column or row. 

On this chart example on slide #20, we’ll construct vertical swimlanes. As you can see, they’re on the vertical axis here. Think of the First quarter column as one swimlane. Second quarter is another lane, and so on.

How to create a swimlane diagram in PowerPointHow to create a swimlane diagram in PowerPointHow to create a swimlane diagram in PowerPoint
Label each swimlane with your own custom text.

Our first step here is to label our swimlanes. To do that, click into the First quarter text box. Select the contents, and then begin typing on your keyboard. Here, we’ll type Design, to represent the first stakeholder in the process. 

Then, repeat the same steps for the other three swimlanes. Select each text box in turn, and add the words Assembly, Shipping, and Marketing, respectively. That’s it! In a flash, you’ve created your swimlanes.

How to insert swimlane in PowerPointHow to insert swimlane in PowerPointHow to insert swimlane in PowerPoint
Swimlanes labeled like this make it easy to identify key stakeholders on your process Gantt chart.

4. Add Process Details

With a swimlane PowerPoint framework built out, now it’s time to add process details. First up, you can customize how and when process steps overlap with one another. Notice that each column contains its own set of arrow diagrams. These represent process steps.

To customize these, click on one of the arrow shapes to select it. Then, click and drag on the pointed end. By doing so, you can instantly resize and scale the process detail.

For example, design’s functions don’t overlap with assembly. By clicking and dragging, you can shorten the process steps to stay within their own swimlane.

Swimlane PowerPoint chartSwimlane PowerPoint chartSwimlane PowerPoint chart
Click and drag to resize process steps on your chart, then drop in key process details.

Again, you can repeat this process wherever you need to on your chart. In moments, you’ll have each task visually assigned to its stakeholder. Even an unfamiliar audience can quickly grasp how your process is constructed. Plus, they'll understand how your teams work together! 

With the process shapes customized, you can add custom text to bring more clarity. Follow the same steps you did when you added the swimlane labels! Simply click into a text box and replace the contents with your own words.

As you can see, it’s easy to build out a swimlane diagram in PowerPoint fast.

5. Customize Style Elements in your Swimlane PowerPoint Diagram

Last but not least, don’t forget to customize the design of your swimlane PowerPoint diagram. This is a powerful way to see the benefits of a premium Envato Elements template. 

Your Gantt swimlane PowerPoint diagram design was already built for you. You didn’t have to waste time building the layout from scratch. But remember: you’ve not sacrificed any design flexibility! You can still completely customize every design element to fit your personal tastes. 

For example, you can add custom font effects. To do this, click into a text box and select the contents. Then, come up to the Home tab, found on PowerPoint’s ribbon. In the Font group, you can make an array of edits.

Swimlane diagram PowerPoint textSwimlane diagram PowerPoint textSwimlane diagram PowerPoint text
Use the Font group on the Home tab to customize text on your swimlane diagram PowerPoint.

Let’s add some text shading by clicking the Bold button. Then, you can make other changes to the font size and style by clicking on the dropdowns. PowerPoint makes it easy to customize text designs, especially with the help of templates.

Next up, let’s change some shape colors. By changing colors, you can add your own personal style as you learn how to insert swimlane in PowerPoint slides. It’s also a great way to bring your brand’s own colors into your design.

To change shape colors in your swimlane PowerPoint, click on one of the shaded process steps to select it. When you do, you’ll see a new tab appear on the ribbon: Shape Format. 

Click Shape Format, and on the left, choose the Shape Fill dropdown arrow. A color chooser menu appears. Each of the thumbnails represents a new shade that you can apply to the selected shape. Find one you like and click to select it. 

Colorful Swimlane PowerPointColorful Swimlane PowerPointColorful Swimlane PowerPoint
PowerPoint’s Shape Fill menu customizes the colors of your swimlane diagram PowerPoint.

You’ll see PowerPoint add the new color to your shape, instantly! Once again, you can repeat this step to add custom colors everywhere.

That’s it! In moments, you’ve learned how to create a swimlane diagram in PowerPoint. The trick is to use a pre-built, premium Envato Elements template

Choose a Gantt chart style that you love, and then adapt it. Customize text to add your own swimlanes. Then, fill in key details and add a dash of your personal style. It only takes a few minutes, and it’s the top way to build compelling data visuals in 2023 and beyond.

The Best Source for Swimlane PowerPoint Templates in 2023 (With Unlimited Downloads)

Envato Elements is the top source for winning swimlane PowerPoint templates in 2023. By choosing a premium diagram style from Elements, you’ll stand out from the crowd.

The Elements offer is powerful. For a flat monthly rate, you’ll gain access to unlimited downloads of thousands of stunning PowerPoint templates. Plus, Elements includes music, fonts, stock photos, and millions of other digital assets.

Sure, you can find free swimlane PowerPoint templates around the web. But they can’t match the spectacular styles and easy features found in Elements templates. 

Swimlane diagram PowerPoint templatesSwimlane diagram PowerPoint templatesSwimlane diagram PowerPoint templates
Explore thousands of swimlane diagram PowerPoint templates on Envato Elements now.

Premium templates automate the work of how to insert swimlane in PowerPoint designs. With a premium template, you’ll enjoy:

  • Themed pre-built layouts. Choose from diagram swimlane designs for many industries, in many styles.
  • Expertly crafted layouts. Graphics are studio-quality, and yet fully editable by you.
  • Design inspirations. With fill-in-the-blank layouts, you can easily drop in your own content.
  • Versatile placeholders. These make it easy to drop in data, text, photos, and more. 

As you can see, Envato Elements is the best value for creatives today. You can’t afford to miss out in 2023!

You Just Learned How to Create a Swimlane Diagram in PowerPoint

Our tutorial showed you a critically important project tool, swimlane diagrams. The easiest way to create swimlane diagram PowerPoint slides is with premium templates. These already have most of the work done for you.

Now, it's your turn. Practice your new skill: how to insert swimlane in PowerPoint slides. Take a project you manage, and divvy it up between owners. Your next meeting is sure to illustrate the status of each task.

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