Business Analysis and Software Quality

I recently came into contact with a company who had chosen BPMN for its business analysis and process work. The difficulty they had experienced was that the Business Analysts were trained in the BPMN but no one else. When the BAs came to conduct the workshops they spent the first 15-30 minutes explaining and re-explaining the notation. Often the business representatives involved in the workshops would question why this notation was being used when the process maps were going to be used in the business.

After six months none of the BPMN processes were being used in the business (they had set them up on an intranet and had hit counts). In fact within the business they had been superseded by basic flowcharts that the business had done themselves.

This of course raised the question of why. It seems that management had been convinced of the technical superiority of the BPMN by two new starters who had extolled its virtues. Organisational fit had not really been considered as it was assumed that the business/operational staff would pick it up along the way.

The BA team continued to maintain their BPMN processes in their (rather expensive) process modelling tool. They became more divorced from changes in the business. The mechanism to keep them updated existed in theory, but not in practice. The business saw it as simply too difficult and unnecessary to let the ICT BAs know of the changed in the business.

  • Have you ensured that your process map notation and appropriate for its audience? e.g. in a startup of ICT grads, BPMN or UML might be the just thing they need
  • Are the process maps accurate with the current business?
  • Do staff find them useful?
  • Are the processes flexible when appropriate?
  • Are copies or links to them provided to new staff
  • What feedback have staff provided?
  • Is there a mechanism to keep the processes updated, and is it actually use by staff?
  • Are the processes used by BA to specific systems requirements? If so, how do the BAs validate the information contained in them with the business sponsor and end users?
  • Is acceptance actively sought or is there ‘tacit’ acceptance?

Oh and by the way, the BMPN tool and thousands of BPMN diagrams were eventually replaced by a wiki and visio flowcharts that were then owned and managed by the business.

Make sure you have a champion in the business who’d love to take it on ASAP.

This is a good use for the process of customer discovery created by Steve Blank and described in his book – 4 Steps to the Epiphany. If you haven’t read the book, grab a copy as soon as humanly possible.

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This entry was posted in BPMN, ISO9126, process improvement, product quality, software quality, UML and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Business Analysis and Software Quality

  1. Phil Webb says:

    The perceived complexity of BPMN (http://www.selectbs.com/adtblog/index.php/2009/03/easing-the-complexity-of-bpmn) is a common issue which has a number of possible solutions. In the case described here the result was to use visio flowcharts owned by the business, but in my experience, it’s possible and best for the business analysts to understand the core set of notations which will be best understood by the business, and only use more complex notations when absolutely necessary, or on further decomposed process diagrams.

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