Visualizing Work Flows
In any business environment employees have different ways of solving problems. Defining clear processes will document each step in solving those problems, saving both valuable time and money. Process documentation can take many forms, including data flow diagrams and process modeling. Through data flow diagrams (DFD), they provide a visual view of how information flows through a system or process. Through process modeling, the company’s AS-IS (or current) and TO-BE (or future) processes are documented in easy to understand language. What does all of this mean? and Which model should I use?
Which Model is Right for My Problem ?
The first step is to define the problem. Are your current processes slowing down output? If the answer is “yes,” then a Process Model should be created to document the sequence of steps/processes that occur to produce the product or service. If the answer to the question is about wanting to know how data flows, then the Data Flow Diagram is the correct tool.
Choosing A Process Model
The second step is to choose between In the AS-IS model, you are documenting how the process currently flows. Sometimes this is useful to see how the process may have evolved over time. Each area within the process may have made individual changes and that change is only known at the lower level. Documenting the AS-IS process may reveal a different process than perceived.
The TO-BE model, is either modified from the AS-IS or a TO-BE model can be created without any knowledge of how the current process is being performed. It answers the “what do we want it to be?” question. If you find the current process is working relatively well then you may only want to make minimal changes. Starting with the AS-IS flow and making modification would be the correct solution. However, if you wish to start with a completely new process, then developing the TO-BE model from scratch is the right choice.
Selecting Data Flow Diagrams
Data Flow Diagrams is used to visually represent the flow of data. In its purest form, DFD’s illustrates how data is moving throughout an information technology (IT) system and/or process, such as the flow from databases to users to output reports. They can also be combined with process models to illustrate both how the process flows and where data is flowing through the process and IT systems involved.
Being able to visualize the work flow, whether it is process or data-driven, promotes the discussion, do improvements need to occur? and/or is the work/data flowing efficiently?