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Flowcharts are created to help people manage processes. However, as the project’s complexity increases, the regular flowchart can get a bit messy. For instance, it cannot show users the departments or person who is related to the process. "Who is this step relevant for?" is a question a normal flowchart might not be able to answer. That is where cross-functional flowchart comes in.

Read on to learn more about cross-functional flowchart.

A Cross-Functional Flowchart


A cross-functional flowchart, also known as swimlane flowchart is a type of flowchart that helps describe business process. Unlike normal flowchart diagrams, swimlane diagram can show both the roles of the participants and their names. Plus, it also lets users know how different departments interact with each other.

This chart is usually the same as a swimlane flowchart. It typically has two types of orientation: horizontally and vertically.

cross-functional flowchart
A cross-functional flowchart


As a business develops, the scale of its projects involved changes. The things a diagram needs to illustrate are no longer confined to simple tasks carried out by one person. The larger the plan, the more people take part in it, which results in the need to make clear who does what.

However, the basic flowchart can not clarify that kind of information with just the usual symbols and arrows. A cross-functional chart, on the other hand, can satisfy that requirement. It has many lanes, so different units and stakeholders get their own space. The lanes are placed in parallel, enabling the elements to form their connection.

This efficient tool brings clarity to processes by visualizing things. Users just need to take a glance at it to get the gist of the plan. Compared with the normal way where people have to spend hours listening to lengthy and complex presentations, this diagram is surely more effective in conveying cross-functional processes.

When Can We Use A Cross-Functional Flowchart?

Since this tool can ease the work complexity, it is of great help to managers. It assists them in breaking down the workflow for relevant participants. That way, the great number of tasks and parties they have to deal with will not overwhelm them.

cross-functional flowchart
This powerful tool can deal with complexity

For example, a company intends to get into manufacturing cars. A well-built diagram will draw out what this plan holds for directors and managers to see. It shows the steps needed to make a car, the number of necessary departments, and reveals the headcount needed for each department.

Analyzing A Cross-Functional Flowchart 

Analyzing processes with the aid of this diagram can bring surprising results. For starter, it exposes the unnecessary complication that users unconsciously make. Therefore, proper analysis is a good place to start when it comes to perfecting the plan.

Start inspecting by looking for non-value-added steps. Managers should examine each step thoroughly. For instance, a process needs to face questions like: “Does it add any values?”, “Does the customer care about it?”. If it does not pass the test, eliminate it.

Below are some of the common steps that do not contribute value.

Excessive Control Points

Too many inspections and supervisors is not always good. They appear in the diagram mainly because the creator is uncertain about that point.

Unneeded Handoffs

There are always possibilities of miscommunication and delay in between shifts of responsibilities. Managers should distribute work in a way that allows the member’s skills to grow unspecialized. That will alleviate the negative effects of multiple handoffs.

Tasks Specialization

Tasks consolidation creates opportunities for work teams or groups to establish. In such environments, information flows faster, leading to shorter working periods and higher product quality.

How To Make A Cross-Functional Flowchart?


Know The Target Result 

The final output will shape the entire process, including many sub-processes inside. Therefore, it is very important to determine what your aim is. Getting this step wrong can be a severe mistake, as it causes all of the team’s efforts to go to waste.

In the example above, where the company wants to launch a car project, they need to decide what kind of car they want to introduce to consumers.

Identify The Included Steps

This involves researching to get a rough idea of realizing the plan, in the form of a series of steps.

Share Responsibility

It is obvious that a single person can not operate a large plan on his own. Therefore, it's necessary to divide up the process to the appropriate apartments.  

Assign every member his or her own objective and let them focus on it. That will improve work efficiency better than demanding the participants to accomplish several tasks at the same time.


Finance is an inevitable factor to consider when starting a plan. It decides the number of employees the company can hire and the manufacturing expenses they can cover. A good assessment on this matter also contributes to setting a suitable goal.

Flowchart Tools

You can create a flowchart with just a pen and a piece of paper. But that will take quite a bit of time and editing will be a pain.

Worry not as there are many online flowchart tools that can help you create cross-functional flowcharts very easily. You can assemble a diagram quickly with several clicks because the application already has built-in symbols.

Detailed Steps

Determine The Goals

The department needs to always stick to its goal. It will be placed at the end of the chart as the output, leading people to work on the right path. 

List The Necessary Elements

Once the target is set, users need to collect information related to it. They should ask the members what task they are in charge of and how to perform those tasks. 

Build The Chart’s Outline

As mentioned above, the flowchart can be arranged horizontally or vertically. The decision of arrangement changes according to the process and the length of the flow.

cross-functional flowchart
A horizontal chart

In this step, label the rows and columns. The lanes will be for the departments if the company seeks process efficiency. In case the aim is to boost the labor force's productivity, the manager should place groups of people in the lanes.

Draw The Process

Pick suitable symbols and put them together in the right order to form a development flow. Place the flow in its rightful swimlane. Users describe the step by inserting the details into the shapes. 

flowchart symbols
Choose the right symbol for every piece of information

Finally, they connect the shapes with arrows. These arrows can go from lanes to lanes to demonstrate the relationships between the processes.

Tips On Making A Cross-Functional Flowchart

Thorough preparation is always good for the making process. Thus, do not skip this important stage. Users should take time to gather sufficient input.

Once the flowchart is completed, get feedback from those who directly use it. This will help you create a feedback loop to help you continually improve your processes.

Cross-Function Diagram Examples

In Recruitment

In the first row of a recruitment diagram, a hiring manager approves the documents. Then the recruiters will write job descriptions and find people to apply in the second lane. 

recruitment cross-functional flowchart
A recruitment diagram

The candidate in the third row will send the recruiter an email. If the email is not qualified, the diagram ends. In case the email passes, The candidate continues to get an interview. The process stops when the candidate passes or fails the interview.

Ordering In A Restaurant

A diagram that illustrates the process of ordering a meal in a restaurant has three lanes. The first one is for the customer, who walks into the restaurant and orders. The waiter in the second lane will receive the order and communicate with the chef, who is in the last lane.

The chef cooks the dishes and hands them to the waiter, who will bring them to the customer’s table. The chart ends when the customer finishes the meal and pays the bill.