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15 August 2007

Process Analysis 101 - Part 2; Labelling Process Steps

This is the second is a series of posts about business process analysis. The series is focused on the basics of analysing steps in processes. This post focuses on the importance of labelling the procss step.

Transformation
Remember a business process is a transformational activity and that each of the steps along the way are designed to assist in the transformation. In the phone company example from the first post the transformation was of the customer’s state from not having a phone service to having a working phone one established at their home.

Each process step along the larger business process is also transformational in nature. Or example a step may be to schedule a technician to visit the home. The transformation is of both the technician’s state and that of the customer’s work order of unscheduled to scheduled.

Using the Verb/Noun
Describing process steps as a combination of Verb and Noun helps an analyst focus on the transformational nature of processes. You are doing something (the verb) to something (the noun.) The process step in our example would be to schedule (verb) a technician (noun).

This approach to labelling also makes descriptions more concise and consistent. If you are working in a team of process analysts you are likely to find that people have different styles of writing and different styles of describing process steps. Some people fit essays into these boxes. Others drop in a series of acronyms that are unintelligible to everyone, including themselves when they look at the diagram a month later. Using the verb/noun combo keeps language simple and standardised.

Naturally in modern corporate environments it will be a rare occasion when your process box only has two words in it. For instance, when scheduling our technicians we might do so in our Technician Scheduling System (or TSS), and we schedule them by creating a Phone Installation Work Order (or PIWO.) Yes, things can get out of hand.

But by focusing on the verb noun you will have a better chance of creating a clear document that humans from both technical and business sides of the project fence can understand