There are a range of questions I need to ask in order for me to effectively model a current workflow process.
I won’t go into all of the different methodologies but will just briefly tell you of one of the two methodologies we use. This methodology was specifically developed by us to do our requirements gathering for implementing workflow applications. As such we made it into a workflow application that guides us through the steps to create a requirements specification and an AS IS workflow diagram(s)
What am I trying to do?
What is the commercial driver for putting in this workflow system?
Who am I trying to make happy?
What do I want to be able to show at the end? Most people have some idea of the must have or nice to haves of what they want from their system. Also if they have any reports or example reports that they want the system to produce look at these almost immediately.
This will tell you the minimum amount of information the system will need to collect in order for you to deliver the report.
What are the end points of the workflow/process i.e. when does the process terminate?
Remember an end point is a high level goal and this most be looked at key to the systems success.
What is the step or steps immediately preceding the endpoint(s)? Our philosophy is working from the back (i.e. the goals) to the front. This allows us to better capture all the steps. People who work from beginning to end sometimes skip steps whereas if they are asked what must immediately follow step a they are less likely to leave things out.
*Please note that we define a step as a placeholder where ONE person or ONE machine is able to supply all the information required for that step to be completed at a single point in time.
**A step is also often referred to as an activity.
Are there any rules under which a step is omitted?
Answering all these questions allows us to create a workflow diagram (in the application I mentioned above the diagram is actually created for us)
but we still need to find out what information is displayed, created, updated at each of the steps. I will get into that in my next blog entry.
In Part Two, of this discussion I plan to go into more depth about understanding what is going on in the current process.
In Part Three, I will examine what questions you should be asking to take your current workflow and determine what steps can be:
3) done in parallel
4) divided into multiple steps
5) combined into single steps
7) assigned business rules for escalations