Sunday, August 05, 2007

A process model is not enough...

A number of years ago, I worked for a system integrator, with a a manager that was, well, a bit limited in his overview of the IT best practices.
One day he came up with a great idea. Recently visiting a seminar, he had learned that UML was the answer for everything. And he had a solution to the workfloor's problem: unclear requirements and an expensive process to define them. His solution: use case diagrams. His expectations: we could draw these in 1 hour, and voila - we had our requirements - quickly, clear, and cheap!
It took a while to make him understand that a picture, with some actors, circles and words, where a great idea to structure requirements, but by now means, a use case diagram would cover the requirements in enough detail. So reluctantly he allowed us to continue to analyse and write good software requirement specs.... :-)

It seems that we seem to make the same mistake now with process models. In a number of situations now, a business person delivered a set of process models, and said "well, here are our processes, have fun analyzing them and supporting them with good IT solutions".


So for once and for all:
When people need to communicate about process - a lot more information is needed.
My checklist:
- The goal of the process, how does the goal relate to the strategic intent of the company
- The criticality of this process
- Compliance, legal and other regulation requirements for this process
- The involved stakeholders (internal, external)
- The power structure/organization structure of these stakeholders
- The trigger that starts the process + through what channels
- The process owner
- The place of this process in the process architecture
- Input to the process
- Output of the process (including exceptions)
- The central object of the process (document, case, transaction, claim, client request, etc) that flows through the steps
- Events during the process, and typical + exceptional sequences and timings
- Data involved through the process
> Logistics (who does what when)
> Execution (data needed to perform task, data produced by task)
> Management (measures)
- Business rules for process:
> Decisions on flow (what task now.... if XXX then do YYY)
> Decisions on assignment (task XXX will be done by YYYYexcept if AAAA then performed by BBBB)
- The critical decisions, rules or patterns associated with it, and required authority to take them
- Succes - when is execution of this process considered a success? What performance criteria?
- CSF's - what is needed to reach this performance? and KPI's
- History of the process - when was it created, how has it performed, when and why has it broken down, what are typical issues, when and why performed it exceptionally well

Well, that's a lot more than a process model. It's the process context that BPM specialists need.

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