I was trying to create a simple workflow diagram to visualize a process in our business that relies very heavily on how much time has elapsed. For example:

if an order is placed, and the order is made for a partner store, and 5 minutes has elapsed without the ops manager approving it, then highlight the order row as yellow and set the status as "needs approval", if another 3 minutes passes, highlight the order row as red, and set the status as "late"


I found the diagram I created (part of which is depicted below) as extremely verbose and lacking.

enter image description here

I went through the Modelling the Requirment section of the book Software Requirements and found a large set of modeling diagram types including:

Visual requirements models described in this book include:
- Data flow diagrams (DFDs)
- Process flow diagrams such as swimlane diagrams
- State-transition diagrams (STDs) and state tables
- Dialog maps
- Decision tables and decision trees
- Event-response tables
- Feature trees
- Use case diagrams
- Activity diagrams
- Entity-relationship diagrams

Wiegers, Karl; Beatty, Joy. Software Requirements (Developer Best Practices) (Kindle Locations 6268-6276). Pearson Education. Kindle Edition.

But also none of them were really suitable for what I'm looking for.. Any ideas?

  • If you're trying to measure processing time rather than decision trees, then a value stream map may be a better fit. However, that would require looking at the problem in a different way. – Todd A. Jacobs Apr 4 '18 at 13:08

I ended up being inspired by this graph from the mentioned book:

enter image description here

so although in the book the swimlane is categorized by "actors", i substituted that by time frame, ie 0..5 mins, 6..10 mins etc.

enter image description here


  • used sketchapp for mac for basic rendering
  • used AEFlowChart plugin ontop of sketch for flow charting
  • uploaded doc to invision to collaborate with a wider team remotely (same functionality offered by google draw out of the box, including inline comments)
| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Good stuff. I like this question and the answer you have provided. – Venture2099 Apr 4 '18 at 12:54

Interesting question; a very good fit for Project Management Stack Exchange. It might take a little while for good answers to filter through since this requires some serious thought and you have done a lot of research yourself.

I fear any answer will simply be a rehash of those methods you have already tried.

You could try some additional methods which you have not listed in your questions.

Red Routing or Top Tasks

Red Routes must possess 5 characteristics:

  • Be complete end to end activities
  • Must imply an obvious measure of accomplishment
  • Must be portable to competitor sites
  • Must be goal orientated, not focused on procedural steps
  • Must be accurate and realistic

These will allow you to map times and deviations whilst articulating the importance of the customer journey. As always, you can adapt it to your needs.

You can find more HERE and HERE on how to accomplish these activities.

Gemba Walk Critical Path

You chatted a little about the Process Flow diagrams you have explored, and any way you slice it, this will ultimately be a process flow of some description.

You could marry up the modelling requirements of the Critical Path Method with the observations of a Gemba Walk.

A gemba (and sometimes genba) walk is the term used to describe personal observation of work – where the work is happening. The original Japanese term comes from gembutsu, which means “real thing.”1 It also sometimes refers to the “real place.” This concept stresses:

  • Observation: In-person observation, the core principle of the tool
  • Value-add location: Observing where the work is being done (as opposed to discussing a warehouse problem in a conference room)

For instance, you could record/observe a user using the system and quite literally time the activities that they take and then produce a Critical Path chart showing the relationships and times between action.


There are four additional techniques which can be experimented with and remixed together to try and achieve the aims you are seeking.

  • Gemba
  • Critical Path
  • Red Routing
  • Top Tasks
| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.