BPMN Swimlanes and Pool Lanes: Dive Into These Tips!

The proper use of BPMN Swimlanes according to BPMN notation is not something truly complex.

But it’s precisely for its simplicity that sometimes when modeling BPMN processes, users who are not fully familiar with the concepts of BPMN Swimlanes and Pool Lanes can make mistakes.

But don’t worry! We’ve sought the assistance of Lucas Vieira, BPMN expert from HEFLO. He will explain everything completely and in detail to eliminate any confusion.

He even made illustrative examples of correct and incorrect uses, let’s check them out!

Learn more: Business Process Modeling for the Beginners

And check out: BPMN Symbols: The 10 most common mistakes to avoid

BPMN Swimlanes and Pool Lanes: Don’t go off course anymore!

Lucas made a point of being rather didactic with these two important concepts of BPMN notation.

You use Pool Lanes to group a set of BPMN Swimlanes, just like in real life, this is the metaphor behind those names.

Take a deep breath and see his comments below.

BPMN Swimlanes

You use Swimlanes to group process tasks according to the actor (employee) who performs them, separating them from the others.

“A very common mistake, which occurs mainly in small businesses, is to represent the lanes by the names of the people involved in the process,” warns Luke.


He recommends that BPMN Swimlanes should always display the names of the ROLES that people assume by participating in the processes.


But be aware: It’s important to note that when we say that a Swimlane represents an actor in the process, that does not necessarily mean that a Swimlane represents a person.

“An actor can be a person, a group of people or even a system” – warns Luke once again.


Usually, you use a Pool to represent a process.

In sales or service flows, for example, it is common to find those who prefer to leave the customer and suppliers in Pools separate from the internal process.  This gives the idea that the “customer journey” or the suppliers’ tasks are something external to the organization.

“This practice is very interesting because it allows us to logically segment participants into the flow,” – adds Lucas.

bpmn swimlanes

A common mistake is to use the same BPMN Pool to represent more than one business process. Each pool should represent only one process.

Another important factor is: regarding process execution, you should always use a different Pool for each new process instance (an instance is an isolated process).

Another recurring error is that in processes like the example above, the client generates an instance that passes between the two Pools. That decision is not right.

When you execute the above flow, it always generates two instances. The customer generates one instance in the “Customer Journey” Pool. And then by sending the purchase order to the internal area of the company, you create the other instance.

Both are related, and communicate with each other through message exchange elements.

And, in such cases, you should draw the connector elements with dotted lines, see the figure:

bpmn swimlanes

“In terms of execution, in the case above, what happens is only an exchange of messages between two instances and not a “routing” between Pools” – clarifies Luke.

So, how’s it going so far? Has this refreshed your memory of Pools and BPMN Swimlanes?

Here’s another similar concept: “the Black Box Pool”

See also: The Definitions of the 3 Types of Business Processes

The BPMN “Black Box Pool”

Imagine a process like a mechanic studying a car at a car dealership.

Among the various tasks of a mechanic, one of them is to connect software from the manufacturer of the vehicle to the engine. He then analyzes numerous graphs and surveys that are performed automatically.

This whole process that occurs inside the computer connected to the car does not need to be detailed for the mechanic. It is a “Black Box Pool”, where a “separate” process occurs, but it’s not necessary to know its tasks.

Want to know even more about BPMN Swimlanes and Pools for process modeling?

Check out this business process modeling tutorial.

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