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Tools for documenting business processes

Discussion in 'PC and I.T support/Advice posts' started by Bobby Dazzler, Apr 2, 2007.

  1. Bobby Dazzler

    Bobby Dazzler Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    I'm about to embark on a project to document every process across our business - not an insignificant task!! Fortunately there's a team of people to help me do it.

    The plan is that we'll use it as an opportunity to standardise processes that have evolved differently in different parts of the business, and we'll also use it to produce a single set of training materials. It should also simplify the process for introducing system and process changes later, as we'll have all existing processes documented, and all users should be doing things one way.

    We'll map each process, and link it to a short document that guides the user through how to complete each task. For example, if the process requires a Purchase Order to be raised in SAP, we'll provide a guide on how to do it and link to it from the process map.

    We therefore need a tool for creating the process maps and a repository for storing the documents.

    Microsoft Visio seems to be the tool most people in our company have used for process mapping previously - me included - but I don't think it's necessarilly the right solution in this case. For example, we'd like to be able to drill down from a process into a sub-process with a simple click of the mouse - and move back up again too. We'd also like to add the links to the guidance documents. I'm not sure Visio would enable us to make these features available?

    The repository should enable us to search based upon multiple criteria, rather than just a keyword search. For example search based upon role, business area, and type of process.

    Anyone got any suggestions on how to tackle this, and tools we could use for both process mapping and document repository?

    All suggestions, thoughts, and comments are welcome!!
     
  2. pammy

    pammy Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    What you want can most certainly be done. I've done it before using HTML but it was clunky. HTML gave me all the process flows with lower level flows flowing from links in the relevant box. Then pfds had the textual detail. This was fine for a complex web tool - it's how we process mapped the seemingly infinite routes through on a use case scenario. And was fine for just one tiny piece of the business. However we have a Central Design Authority that do our Business Modelling for the same reasons you're looking at. They cover everything that our main business is responsible for and have developed a Standard Operating Model that applies across a range of processes. Not sure what software they use but I'm sure it's not Visio. We do use Vision for high level and lower level modelling but not the dynamic function that you're looking for(afaik).

    I'm sure someone else will be able to give you something as I'm off for the rest of this week. But when I'm back at work next week I can put a couple of calls out to chums in CDA and see what they're using atm if it would help.
     
  3. Sp!ke

    Sp!ke Administrator Staff Member

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    Microsoft mindmapper is good for brain storming prior to creating flow charts in Visio or similar.

    Sharepoint is the collaboration tool of the moment offering no fuss customisable web based access for all without the need for any web skills.
     
  4. Chris_J

    Chris_J Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Phew you've got your work cut out there. For document control, maybe look at a piece of software called PVCS, but that's more software version control.

    If you're looking at a set of protocols for a change process or a framework for your IT department, maybe look into ITIL. It's not cheap and it takes a while to implement. Not sure this is the kind of thing you're referring to though.

    There is a something called Quality Work Bench, which holds documents and can be searched for the most recent version. Process flow though, hmmm maybe SSADM but I'm sure that's pretty old.

    I could be talking a load of old codswallop though :D
     
  5. pammy

    pammy Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    That rings a bell ;)
     
  6. OP
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    Bobby Dazzler

    Bobby Dazzler Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Wow - I'm stunned by the responses already!! What a nice bunch of people we are.

    Pammy - if you can put your feelers out that would be much appreciated.

    Sp!ke - I've not come across MindMapper before - I'll take a look. Gut feel tells me that SharePoint will have to be in the mix somewhere if we go for a Microsoft based solution.

    ChrisJ - you're right, it's a job and a half. It seems as though people have talked about it long before I joined, although I think the scale put a stop to any real progress. Gubbin's here has been tasked with it though, and it's in performance plan, so I'm keen to make progress!! A colleague went on an ITIL course a year or so back, so I'll grill him - thanks for the suggestion.
     
  7. JonLittlechild

    JonLittlechild Member

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    Computer Associates do a product called Process Modeller for modelling IT oriented business processes. http://www3.ca.com/smb/product.aspx?id=5748&culture=en-us Might be a bit pricey for what you're after, but maybe work a looksee and might give you some ideas of what you're looking for.

    For document storage and collaboration, Sharepoint is definately the thing to use - especially as it's free with Windows 2003 Server (although most people don't realise this).

    I think PVCS is a source code storage and versioning system (presumably a derivative of CVS). I don't think this'll suit document storage as I think it'll be quite inefficient with binary files - source code systems tend to prefer textual files.

    ITIL is more oriented towards IT helpdesk/support type environments, and is a framework of guidelines and ideas.

    Hope this helps,

    Jon
     
  8. OP
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    Bobby Dazzler

    Bobby Dazzler Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Jon - thanks for the link. Much appreciated.
     
  9. Chris_J

    Chris_J Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    I thought that was the case, but couldn't be sure. I knew it dealt with software, but assumed it could hold documentation too.

    I'm sure we could implement Sharepoint at work, but I'm not one of the powers that be unfortunately. Is it just a document store then, which holds old versions and publishes the latest?
     
  10. BonzoDog

    BonzoDog Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Look up Process Mangement on Google and there are endless tools for doing this. The problems are detail, getting the real story, the constant change and the time taken.
    You also mentioned SAP, a system that I find fundamentally slows down a business and adds enormous cost without foreseeable benefit.
    Having seen the results of various process mangement exercises my concerns are that it is hard to measure any real tangible benfit in terms of cost and ROI. I see it as an unending, pointless discussion between the process bound departments trying to justify savings that can never be proved rather than concentrating on what brings in the business and what makes the customer happy. This latter tends to be forgotten in these exercises. I would find the key people in the department who really know what is happening and in as short a time as possible take a high level view and whatever detail below that is availbable.
    Cynical, yes but I find that this is a triumph of bureaucracy over common sense. There must be a cost cutting accountant behind this somehwer in the loop.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2007
  11. BenzComander

    BenzComander Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Bobby, this is what we use, not sure if it is exactly what you need:confused:

    We start off with a job description, ie what do you want the subject to do exactly. (Make a cup of tea)

    We then develop a Job Scalar and Operational Performance Statement, which is a list of the tasks and equipment the subject would need to achieve the job description. (Kettle, Tea bags, water etc)

    Then we develop a Formal Training Statement, which is a list of Training Objectives that train the subject to meet the Job Scalar and Operational Performance Statement. (Boil water, put tea bag in cup etc)

    The FTS then leads to the Syllabus of training and Instructional spec.

    HTH:D

    Probably completey not what you want:eek:
     
  12. OP
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    Bobby Dazzler

    Bobby Dazzler Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    BenzComander - Thanks for your comments.

    I'm not SAP's greatest fan either!!

    I think what I'm really grappling with is finding the best way of documenting and sharing the task list you mention. For our people to move away from their current processes - that have evolved differently in different parts of the business - and move towards a single and consistent set of processes, we need to make sure that the new way makes sense, and is easy for them to refer to. Making it accessible and easy to use will be the challenge though given the number of processes involved.
     
  13. BonzoDog

    BonzoDog Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    SAP - as you guessed nor me - anybody know any good acronyms for SAP.

    But at the risk of telling you what you already know, if you want buy in from the users, they have to be involved in the project from the start and it has to be seen to be their solution.
    I have seen projects sunk because users were told 'you will have what you are given'. Sometimes they have the ability to fight back and wreck a system.
     
  14. JonLittlechild

    JonLittlechild Member

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    Sharepoint is hard to qualify but from what I understand it designed to allow teams of people to share information.

    First off it's an adequate document storage system - it's not brilliant, doesn't do version controlling (not in 2003 anyway, but I think 2007/MOSS does) and doesn't do direct document locking to prevent multi user clashing, but for free web based document storage it's pretty good.

    It can also do much more. If there's some data that needs to be shared between users, then it can generally do it. Companies, contacts, calendars, tasks, issues, project tasks, project documentation..... pretty much anything.

    It can also be a portal for viewing and accessing other systems too. A lot of people use it for dashboards to show them various reports and system screens etc with drill-down capability. Personally, I don't go for that sort of stuff, but then I'm not a salesman!

    Jon
     

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