Capturing All Processes

When you examine business process flows, its breaks down into two fundamental containers;
1.) Information
2.) Decisions

Now let's break it down further;
1.) Information needed for a decision
2.) Information about the decision
3.) Information resulting from a decision
4.) A decision

A collective set of decisions resulting in a major decision is a high level process. The information fragments surrounding the decisions are attributes of the decisions. Software can reflect both of these principles.

When examining process flows, you need to define the inputs and the outputs and the pivot on those decisions. Interviewing staff involved a particular process flow should query on what they take in (attributes) what they do with it (decisions) and what they provide (attributes). Too often times, the focus is on a defining a linear process. People naturally tend to follow a singular path to the end of the story. You need to look for the subplots. By gathering all inputs and all outputs, you are given clues what subplots to look for. Look for the exceptions to the rule as well as the rules themselves.

And of course (you may have already guessed) my favorite part of the exercise, is pushing the rules.

"X comes before Y. Ok, I got it. Now, your mother-in-law is in town, the wind is from the north, its 4:30 in the afternoon on a Friday, and your boss, or the sales manager or the VP is standing in your doorway, Is that still your same process, or do you break the rules, do you bend the process, do you skip a few steps?"

Process discovery will fail and the software will fail, if these questions are not fully asked and answered.

Editor's Note:  This post was first published on 8/27/2008.

About Sprawlgeek.
A Seasoned Technology Visionary possessing a deep understanding of technology and business processes.

Doug has accumulated over 35 years of experience in the technology and media markets. His broad career has ranged from leading Research and Development work for a 300+ million dollar company to an E-Government startup. His efforts have been recognized by major trade associations as well as Tier 1 clients.

Doug is now a private consultant and continues to provide his insights to the industry.