Fundamentals of Process Mapping – Introducing Subprocesses Part 4

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From what we have seen so far, we’d have 3 separate, but related process models. One for each of the following: Buy a Book Choose a Book Pay for Book Numbering the processes Some of that was getting difficult to describe. The fact that Pay for Book is a process step in one diagram and a whole process was causing some difficulties in describing the relationship. I’d recommend reading through it again, slower this time, checking that you are certain which process step is being to referred to at each point. Some standards help understanding by providing a key to each process step. The most common method is to assign a unique number to each process. The benefit of this is that you can define the process once (e.g. say we define “check stock level”) and then we can use it elsewhere […]

Fundamentals of Process Mapping – Introducing Subprocesses Part 3

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In the previous diagram, I’ve put two crosses, not part of any standard. I’ve used them to highlight what’s wrong with the Choose Book process as depicted above. The second of the crosses is easiest to explain. The process step of Scan Book more properly belongs in the Pay for Book process. We can see it in the Pay For Book process, so let’s keep it there. If it’s also in the Choose Book process, then we’re duplicating actions. Someone following the overall process in the diagram above would end up scanning books twice. That’s not right. The cross on Take to Pay Desk is more awkward and shows where we cross the boundary between science and art. Does Take to Pay Desk belong more to selecting a book or paying for it? My view is that it should be in Pay for Book. Since the book is chosen at the point that the customer […]

Process Mapping Fundamentals – Introducing Subprocesses Part 2

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If you look at the Pay for Book process-step in the top row of the above image, you’ll notice I’ve included a small image of the Pay for Book process. The use of colours is just to help me show how the processes fit together here. It’s incredibly rare to have the process and the more detailed process on the same page. In fact, I can’t ever remember doing that apart from when I’m showing the relationships between processes in articles such as this one. I mentioned that the Process Starts and Process Ends are the glue because the detailed process (the lower one in the above diagram) should be able to fit into the main process (the upper one in the above diagram). It should do this without overlapping into any other process steps. Choose Book will also have its own detailed process map. Here’s […]

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 […]

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, […]