Using the Swim lane Flowchart to Understand Solar Processes

“Solar power is going to be absolutely essential to meeting growing energy demands while staving off climate change” – Ramez Naam

There is an intricate web of processes in any business, which enable the proper functioning of the whole system. Every person and department along with decisions, essays a role in ensuring success. The solar industry is no different with thousands of processes. Given the complexity, it is important to understand solar processes thoroughly – from general correspondence and paper work, to sale and installation, and ongoing maintenance of the system. These are background processes and if not documented, the functions would remain unaccounted and would ultimately fail. Without proper documentation not only would it be tough to understand solar processes, the number of inconsistencies and inefficiencies would rise and lead to breakdown. It would be tough to identify why something is working or not, making resolution and improvements impossible. Clear documentation is essential to understand each process and the expectations from those involved.

Within the solar industry, just like with other industries, understanding the processes and suggesting improvements in the methodologies are critical to mitigate risk arising out of undocumented processes. A swim lane flowchart serves as a vital tool for process mapping. It is an excellent tool for both internal and external requirements with regard to documenting processes. Whether it is about complying with government norms or a standard reporting of events, a flowchart and more specifically a swim lane flowchart proves to be significantly more efficient than a narrative or plain document. For simple processes and documentation, a basic flowchart does the job. However, to understand solar processes with their multiple stages and people involved, work across departments, and or a variety of categories, a swim lane flowchart (cross-functional flowchart) works best.

The strength of a swim lane flowchart lies in that there is visual separation of any process, even complex solar processes, into separate categories. In the attempt to understand solar processes, a swim lane flowchart clearly indicates not only where bottlenecks occur, but also which department/person/resource is answerable for them. Through this flowchart, clarifying responsibilities becomes a lot easier, which paves the way for better collaboration between departments. In the myriad solar processes, just like several other industries, one department is often confused or unclear about the functioning and roles of other departments. In the attempt to understand solar processes, a swim lane flowchart also helps in clarifying individual roles and responsibilities. This prevents gaps and communication issues, while also bringing redundancies and possible duplication to the fore.

Mapping the solar processes in a swim lane flowchart enhances and makes business functioning efficient since expectations are clarified and visually depicted. Solar processes are not easily understood by a lay person. Hence, a visually descriptive tool such as a swim lane flowchart proves to be highly beneficial to understand solar processes, especially because they are easily built and comprehend. These diagrams include highly adaptive and intuitive graphics, which can be tailored to capture the various processes of the solar industry, making the achievement of overall business goals that much easier. These visually appealing graphics result in higher efficiency and lead to significant cost savings.

Understanding accountabilities is the first step on the path to understand solar processes. Since this a complex niche, it is necessary to ensure that work is distributed evenly and as per the capabilities of persons involved. With a swim lane flowchart, it is easy to highlight the skills of each team member and present them in a way that truly adds value to their role and the overall process. The visual representation makes expectations clear – paperwork and documentation will go through the right person/desk rather than piling up with the wrong one. In case of escalations, the hierarchy is clearly represented too.

The clear visual depiction of the processes in a swim lane flowchart ensures that those involved are able to pinpoint anything that might have gone awry or need tweaking. For example: which person requires training and in which area, or which teams need to work together on a particular issue and how processes can be improved to benefit the company, and much more. Anything that is measured can be rectified and monitored. It would be easier to tweak or remove processes that do not add value, while enhancing those that add notable value. A swim lane flowchart also enables the highlighting of risks and safety issues and or areas where customer complaints reoccur. These issues could be handled before they slow down or destroy the entire process and system.

While making an attempt to understand solar processes, one of the critical areas is cost reduction and elimination. With a visual spread, it becomes easier to take swift decisions on whether it would be cost effective to fix which issue first. The balance between financial urgency and process enhancement is critical. If for example, there are repeated complaints that point to manufacturing defects, the collective feedback to the manufacturer would ensure positive changes, resulting in a decrease in overall lifetime fixes and a reduction in warranty costs for the manufacturer. Good products coupled with good service and after sales service, are sure shot ways to gain and retain customers.

The adaptability and easy to make changes design of a swim lane flowchart, ensures the modeling of changes swiftly while easily figuring out how to incorporate them in the overall processes. When visually displayed, it becomes easier to understand solar processes in terms of the interrelation and interdependence of roles, teams, vendors, and other stakeholders. The swim lane flowchart works better than any other tool.

For anyone interested in understanding the basics of solar energy – how humans have been able to capture the humongous power of the sun to operate devices in home and large establishments – it is necessary to first understand solar processes. Making improvements within the business is essential and swim lane flowchart is a great way to do so. Meticulous documentation and mapping of processes are an indispensable method of rooting out waste and eliminating risk, prior to the process improvement stage. Solar power is slated to become a critical part of our lives, as the current fuels run out. Those who seek to start a solar power business and those who would want to install the system, would first need to understand solar processes. Swim lane flowcharts are a great way to do so.

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