There are three simple principles for the output of your business analysis output (requirements, business processes, user stories):
- Valuable and reusable: The content has a life beyond the project. It is the “single source of truth” of the operation of the organization. It is structured so people can find and apply relevant information. It is the operational manual for staff and new joiners, and the basis for continuous improvement. Finally, it is the evidence for regulatory compliance.
- Understood by everyone: If it is the single source of truth, then it needs to be easily understood by everyone, no matter what their role in the organization. That means the process diagrams need to be made readable by using a simple notation and a hierarchical (drill-down) approach.
- Governed and trusted: Complex governance will not be maintained, so an easily applied version control is required for all content.
Elements allows you to build a graphical representation of process information in a diagram. From each activity box on that diagram, you can choose to create a "drill-down", which creates a new blank "child" diagram to describe the detail of the "parent" activity box. This allows you to describe any process in high-level activities, and break it down into increasing detail in a managed, linked hierarchy. Each hierarchy is called a "Map".
There is a simple numbering system to understand where you are in the Map. The top level diagram is Level 1 of the Map. If, for example, you clicked on the top left corner of box 3 to access the child diagram, you would go to Diagram 1.3 of the Map. Here, if you clicked on the top left corner of box 6, you would now be on Diagram 1.3.6 of the Map, and so on.
While this is a pragmatic way to break down vast quantities of information into digestible portions, there is an art to creating good diagrams and structuring maps that can be easily understood and used by people from any background.
It is simple by design. This simple notation has been proven to make process understanding easy for everyone. Capture process knowledge with a single building block to show WHO needs to do WHAT, WHEN and WHY.
But where are the folders for my maps?
This is a frequently asked question, even from those who have bought into the notation and the hierarchy concept here. Why? Many people don't feel they have the time or knowledge to map out the highest level of their organisation, but are working on lots of tactical process 'pieces' dotted around the organisation.
There is no concept of folders to put your maps into, but the hierarchical approach can be used that way. Of course we recommend you start with the notation and process view from the very top, but some at least want to group maps into "Marketing, Sales, Service, Finance" areas. If you can't turn these into high level flow, you can always create boxes at the high level with "Marketing, Sales, Service, Finance" - and organise your maps below. One map. Organized.
But we still advise you to turn this top level into a flow as soon as you can - and focus on the end-to-end processes that your change project or technology supports - that's where the value is.
Right - let's start mapping