Creation of a Process Diagram seems to many to be the most straight forward and intuitive effort of the requirements definition phase. All of the various participants have little difficulty understanding the information captured by the diagram, and they have very little trouble conceptualizing the implied process representations. This fact makes the Process Diagram a powerful tool for the business analyst. The diagram can serve to define required business functionality, to assist in specifying the scope of the effort, and to record the individual processes or activities which make up the greater "whole". Several guidelines can make the modeling process more effective:
Whenever possible begin the process name with a verb.
First collect or "brainstorm" all processes in the area under study without regard to order or level of detail. This approach works very well in a facilitated session setting. Simply record the processes on a white board or flip chart until the participants run out of ideas.
Next, begin to organize the processes into a logical hierarchical arrangement. This should take place within a facilitated setting which encourages an iterative approach to the arranging and grouping. During the course of making the appropriate process placements, obvious omissions and oversights will become apparent. The participants should feel free to fill in these gaps with the missing processes in order to achieve the desired diagram completeness.
During the diagramming and modeling effort, capture process definitions and descriptions whenever possible. If this is not done during the session, the analysts who participated in or who were spectators of the session should document their understanding of each process as soon as possible after the session ends. A completed Process Diagram includes a process definition and description for each listed process.
The completed model should be given to the business participants as soon as possible. These clients should review and comment on the documented results from the analysts. They should be highly encouraged to look once again for inaccuracies, oversights, and omissions. These should be fed back to the team on a timely basis for incorporation into the current model.
The Process Diagram should remain a living document throughout the rest of the Requirements Phase. It will be referred to often by both the business analysts and the clients during frequent discussions, and it will migrate toward a being a primary centerpiece for communication.