Documenting Workflow

You may have customers who let you decide what they want, as they don’t know themselves! This is not necessarily a bad thing as pretty much whatever you deliver will be an improvement on what they’ve got (something, in the place of nothing)… however increasingly you’ll come across an intelligent (In their eyes) customer. Intelligent customers like to tell you what the solution is before you’ve even produced a requirements document, you wont be able to get any requirements from them because all they want to do is sit behind the development team pointing and shouting at what they want them to do. Okay, so how do you make the most of an intelligent customer?

In terms of workflow, you can enable customers to document their workflow in a meaningful way.

By meaningful, I mean, in the place of twenty poorly described and wooly requirements, a picture of how the system needs to work, essentially and pictorial requirement… perhaps you can even let your development team see it! :-)

The first thing you need to do, as an organisation or department is to choose a notation, that you can use on the whiteboard, use in PowerPoint slides… and more importantly can train others to produce and understand.

Two common notations spring to mind,

  1. Business Process Modelling Notation (BPMN)
  2. Unified Modelling Language (UML)

Before you make your choice between these two, or another of your favourites, it’s very much worth having a read of:

  1. Process Modeling Notations and Workflow Patterns by Stephen A. White, IBM Corp.
  2. Advanced Unified Modelling Language (UML) Tutorial - Workflow Model
  3. UML Activity Diagrams as a Workflow Specification Language by Marlon Dumas and Arthur H.M. ter Hofstede

Happy modelling


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