Process Mapping Fundamentals – Introducing Subprocesses Part 1

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Introduction Processes can be broken down into more detailed processes. In this article, I’ll take one of the process steps from the previous article and look in more detail about how it connects to the other components of the process. Some Perspective A key feature of any workflow system is that you should be able to look at the system from different levels, e.g. a director’s view of the system may only show 5 or so process steps and cover what it takes 10-200 people or more to perform. A user’s workflow will probably require several process maps, each relating to the different processes that they perform on a daily basis and some that are less frequent. The solution’s workflow could feature many process maps, perhaps describing the user interfaces and the core system’s interfaces with external solutions. Each map communicates to […]

Process Mapping – Introducing Decision Points

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In the previous article, I introduced a basic process map consisting of a process start point, a process end point, two process steps and connectors. It’s rare that a process map is a straight line like that simplified process. There are usually options which can take the process down different paths. In the case of our book-buying process, we may want to ask the customer if they want the book gift-wrapped as part of free promotion. Decision Points The most common symbol for a decision point is a diamond (or a rhombus for the pedants out there). Similar to the process steps, the decision point is linked by a connector into the diamond. The difference is that the decision point should have at least two connectors coming out. It’s generally best to label each connectors with the outcome that it represents, […]

Process Mapping Basics

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Introduction This is the first article in the Fundamentals of Process Mapping series. In the series, I want to discuss the areas that most process mapping tutorials miss. In this bite-sized article, I’ll introduce the idea of a basic process map. Let’s get some background about process mapping first. What is a process map? A process map is a tool. It is not an end in its own right. They are often used in software development lifecycle or within Business Process Re-engineering (BPR). If the methodology you’re working in states that one is required, you’re not writing a map just to fulfill that aim, but because the creators of that methodology realised that a process map would be a useful tool to have. I see a process as one component of a process description, not necessarily the only component. That’s worth […]

Fundamentals of Process Mapping

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I’ve written before about the elements involved in a process map. In this series of articles, I want to start at the basics and explain what a process map should contain. I’ve seen a fair few methodologies come and go. Fortunately, methodology seems to be settling down with a few interesting branches appearing. I’ve also seen and used a lot of different process mapping tools at different levels, some more like CASE tools, some more like business process management tools, some just diagramming tools. The aims of this series I want to work with better-written process descriptions. I want to pass on best-practice as I’ve seen it after working with a lot of process and business analysts. I’ll discuss why following the methodology is not enough on its own, nor is just creating process maps on their own. I am not […]

Lean or Lean Startup

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There’s a lot of hype around Lean Startup for at least the last year. The positive thing is that much of this hype is well-deserved; the concepts have changed the thinking of a lot of its readers. Having a foot in both camps as a lean practitioner improving services and organisations and as an entrepreneur roughly adhering to the Lean Startup method, I think it’s important that we are all clear on the difference between the concept of the lean startup method and lean organisation. I like a lot of the concepts in The Lean Startup written by Eric Ries. However, from viewing social media conversations and articles, it appears that a lot of readers are confused as to what the focus is. It’s not about about creating a lean organisation (i.e. an organisation that operates in a lean manner). Instead it concerns creating an organisation […]

Issues with Process Mapping

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I’ve been using process mapping for over a decade now. I’ve probably been the recipient of more process maps than I’ve created, as I’ve had to implement changes that have already been designed by others. I’ve also had to talk many business users through the intricacies of their redesigned processes, especially if they (wrongly) hadn’t been designed by them. The most common scenario for me is where I’m asked to review process maps and assess how easily they could be implemented, bringing together knowledge of people, processes and IT/ICT. Over that time, I’ve seen many sides for and against process mapping. I’ll discuss some of the issues and some of the methods for mitigating the risks associated with mapping processes. 1. Takes too much time Mapping a process takes a long time. If that’s the only method that’s being used, […]

Use Case Diagrams for Documenting Scope

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Use Cases I embraced UML as a communication tool some years ago and have found it successful in being able to convey messages in a simple manner. I don’t use every type of diagram – some are too strange for the average business user. I do use Use Case diagrams. These are great and, with a small amount of education, are suitable for use with business users. Use Case Diagrams for Scope As a communication tool, Use Case diagrams are great at showing who does what at a very high level. They’re good at showing system solution scope, types of actors and ownership of integration points. In one diagram, I can show the scope of the system in a way that users will understand. Now that’s a powerful tool. Depth of the Scoping Use Case Ideally I like to have […]

What’s in a process?

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I’ve had a view for a number of years now that a process cannot be described with just a process map. Well, not in its entirety. A standard process map usually consists of rectangular boxes linked with arrows. Better process maps have some variety in the size and shape of boxes representing the variety of actions and decisions that occur at the process steps. When good, these process maps conform to BPMN, UML (Activity Diagrams) or other similar standards. When bad, there can be missing outcomes from decision points, missing references to other processes or references to missing processes and so on, the list goes on. How Deep? However, no matter how good the process map, they cannot completely describe the process. Take the instance of capturing an AS-IS process, perhaps during the check phase of lean systems. A process map would only give […]

4 ducks in a field watched by a lamb

Facilitation

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Regardless of the project, sometimes we all need an external guide to help us along. Facilitation brings structure to events, ensuring that attendees stay on-track. The facilitator needs to be sensitive to the needs of the attendees and the needs of convener. The two sets of aims may well not be the same. Good facilitators will bring about results regardless of the differences. Facilitation sessions are split into 4 phases: Initial engagement, identification of purpose, high-level scope definition Planning, arranging, engagement with attendees and procurement Facilitated sessions Output report and review Previous clients have found facilitation useful for setting strategy, uncovering the real underlying problems and deciding on solutions to difficult problems If requested, any follow-on work beyond the output report is contracted separately. If you think you could benefit from a facilitator, contact us for an overview and further details.

Mentoring and Training

Posted Posted in Mentoring and Training

All of the changes facing every organisation require skilled personnel, either increasing a team’s knowledge in the tools and techniques used for change or by mentoring analysts, providing guidance and supervision. Training Training packages can be developed in the following: Lean Service Redesign Business Process Reengineering Business Analysis Each training package is bespoke, specifically tailored to the client’s needs. Mentoring Mentoring is a longer engagement than training, designed to offer support to your staff in their profession. For those involved in the change profession (change analysts, business analysts, business process analysts), we can provide a mentoring service; either with regular drop-ins or remote via email or onto your organisation’s existing discussion forums. This service should be considered as supplementary to the standard employee mentoring and welfare within your own organisation. It is ideal for SME (Small-to-Medium Sized Enterprises) with one […]