Working as a business analyst, the most common question I get is “What is a Business Process?”
I often sigh when a new member joins our cross-functional team, and then I take out my “Business Process 101” power point and spend the next hour explaining them what theoretically is their own work.
This is how that conversation goes:
Me: Please send me the business process of your department.
Team Member (from Marketing Department): Uhm. Sure.
Team Member [4 Hours later]: “Marketing plan is drafted. Budget is allocated. Marketing plan is executed.”
Me: (Internally shouting) Please expand to include more details.
Team Member [3 days later]: Help.
While I might have exaggerated a bit in the example above, it is not very far from reality. Often non-business folk (and including some business-folk too) don’t realize the importance of a process map. It is needed to layout the whole process, from start to finish, to observe the run time of the process and to notice any bottle-necks that slow down the whole thing. Once we, business analysts, analyst it, we recommend, plan and implement certain methodologies that improve the overall efficiency of the process.
I developed a 5-question checklist that I use to evaluate all process maps:
- What is the high-level activity?
- What are the sub-steps? Tasks? (Who, What, How, Where, When)
- Are there any decisions to be made? (Will have Yes/No answer)
- What are the tasks? Frequency of this task? (current path)
- What are the Exceptions &/or Conditions? (alternative path)
Does your process answer all those questions? Is there something missing? One of the biggest thing people forget is to reiterate what they’ve done. A process is a flowchart. A flowchart can be arranged in numerous different ways. What is the most efficient way to display (this) information? Does the new format answer all those questions? What’s Missing? Can this be understood by someone who has nothing to do with this industry/organization?
Once you have revised, revised, and revised your process map, and have looked at it from various angles and reconfirmed the process from different people from that department, it is time to call it “Final.pdf”.
Of course, Process Improvement is an ongoing process in itself, so that “Final.pdf” might end up as “FinalFinal7.pdf”. Also, business processes vary from person-to-organization-to-industry. No template fits-all, so this is all a guideline, it works for me, it might work for you too.
Photo Credit: Visual Hunt.com