Objective: Map a process and its relationship with different stakeholders.

This activity should take a few hours

  1. To explore the relationship between planning and implementation activities and different stakeholders through the different project phases
  2. Particularly useful to map out processes for obtaining agreement to proposals
  • Planning team
  • Stakeholders involved in planning teams

A swim lane diagramme is a way to relate the activities in a planning process with the main institutions involved over planning phases. It is particularly useful when a complicated set of approvals is necessary, often involving different organizations and both central and local governments.

The work with the tool can be done by the planning team. It is good to work through it with representatives of the different organisations involved, so that there is agreement on the process.

Step 1: Prepare a chart with the time across the top, subdivided by the four phases. This can be on a computer, but for participation it is good to make it on a large sheet of paper. See the example below (figure 1), to see how this works in practice. The example is for a strategic planning process in Egypt where approval of different levels of government is necessary.

Step 2: Down the right hand side of the chart enter the main actors.

Step 3: Make a list of the main activities. Put each on a post-it label or piece of paper (or a text box using a computer).

Step 4: Place the label/ box opposite the main organization that needs to act (initiate/develop/organize/approve) and under the appropriate date/time. Draw a horizontal line representing the time the activity will take with that organization.

Step 5: Next, extend the line vertically (up or down) to the next organization or organizations who need to act. Continue through the four phases.

Step 6: Repeat for the other activities.

Figure 1: Relationship between three levels of government (case of Egypt)


  1. The tool is relatively simple, and uses work that has to be done anyway.
  2. The tool makes clear the process visually and focuses on the time necessary for approvals (planning teams are often over-optimistic about how fast external decisions can be implemented).
  3. The tool works well in a participative context.



  1. Although relatively simple, some participants may not be used to working with or understanding process diagrams. Some learning time is required.

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