13 August 2007

Process Analysis 101 - Part 1

One of the problems project teams and business stakeholders have with defining business processes for projects is that the documentation is often ambiguous, incomplete or incorrect. This is caused by a number of things including poor understanding by subject matter experts of what the business process actually is, not allowing enough time in the project's analysis phase to fully identify and document the processes, and in people with sub-standard skills being allocated to the task.

In pursuit of better business analysis for projects everywhere I present this diagram to help analysts think about improving their process mapping and design skills.

Process diagrams are more than just boxes linked by arrows and good analysts are always looking for whether process steps are adding value or are wasteful or marginal steps. Process maps show the sequence of a series of activities, where each activity is transforming something along the way to the process's targeted outcome.

For example; when a customer calls a phone company and asks for the phone service to be connected to the house the sales person will start a process and that process will be made up of multiple smaller steps. The end result should be that the customer has a phone service switched on at their house and can make phone calls.

In the diagram presented here there are a number of attributes that I have flagged. By paying attention to these attributes when working on processes you will do a better job of documenting and analysing the process, and will be better able to design quality processes for your future state.

  • Process Step Labelling
  • Inputs & Entry Criteria
  • Outputs and Exit Criteria
  • Constraints and Data

In the next few posts I’ll discuss some aspects to these attributes that will help you better elicit, document and analyse business processes.


  1. Craig,

    you did a great jog with giving a high overview of the process elements. It's funny because part of my job as a business analyst is business process analysis leading to requirement development. And on my blog Business Analysis 101 I will be describing how to derive requirements from business process analysis. I would love to work with you on developing this blog or may be expand on yours if that is ok.

    Thank you so much for the great job.. keep it up

    Linda E., CBAP
    ExpertMentors, LLC

  2. Thanks linda.

    Let's talk.

  3. Thanks for the nice primer. In exchange, here's a web usability tip.. At the bottom of each article, cross-reference the root document (Business Process overview) and the previous and next articles. Here, for instance, you'd add a link to Process Analysis - Part 2

    You're one step away from a fully structured website :)