3 Simple Questions to Take Process Documentation from ‘Good’ to ‘Great’

July 28, 2017 Ian Gotts @iangotts

How to help your clients ensure digital transformation is successful

Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a series of blog posts designed to help you help your clients drive more effective change, leading to better user adoption and more successful implementations. Please see posts one, two, three and four for more insight into why change fails, how to pick the right change strategy for success, and how to communicate effectively to ensure change sticks.

Our experience from 1000+ projects tells us that clients love live-mapping workshops. Often, it’s the first time the senior team have collectively seen their business area from an end-to-end process perspective and had the opportunity to come to agreement on handoffs. You can also identify “quick wins” out of the workshops, which can be implemented without system changes adding to the project ROI.

Process diagrams: the great and the not so great

So, what are you developing in the workshop ?As discussed in the last post, clients should not be developing a huge daunting flowchart, but rather, a hierarchical process map using a very simple notation. A diagram has only 8–10 activity boxes, so that it can be easily understood by everyone. Each activity box can drill down to a lower level and so on down as many levels as needed. Each activity box has links to the supporting information that adds color, context and help to the step. Below are three examples of process diagrams we see. All three are exactly the same scope.

A great process has inputs and outputs with descriptions, activities that start with verbs and that have resources, such as the example below:

Process diagram developed in Elements.cloud — FREE business requirements and business analysis app for Salesforce

Sadly, we also see a lot of bad “process diagrams,” which look ok at first glance, but lack detail and are ambiguous — such as the one below. What is the output from box 1? Draft scope, list of requirements, PID? Depending on the output the activity that takes place in box 2 will be very different. Really, box 2 should be “Conduct exec workshop”. Better still is “Establish Exec alignment” which is far more explanatory. There are no resources, so who is responsible? And there is no attached supporting information. There was no “collect revenue” step because no one asked the question “What is the output from each step?”

The image below is marketing fluff — not a process diagram. It’s a simple, emotive graphic, but it’s not operational. Operational means that there is enough detail and there are links to supporting information, so that end users can use the diagram to direct their work when they are new, need to remind themselves, or the process has changed.

Sadly, this diagram conveys so little information that it is worthless. But we still see these being developed(#facepalm)— in fact, seeing the process diagram below prompted me to write this blog.

We often hear: “We haven’t got time for that — and our clients won’t pay.” It does take more time to develop the great process diagram — but not that much more. And, businesses will get back the extra time invested ten-fold due to:

  • eliminating the rework in the build and test phases due to miscommunication
  • saving time writing less User Acceptance Testing (UAT) documents as the process diagrams can be used for UAT
  • eliminating training material if you embed the process diagram inside the objects in Salesforce.

Clients will quickly see in the first workshop the power of a well crafted process diagram. They are happy to devote the time to develop them. And as consultants, you be able to develop the skills to facilitate workshops create great-looking diagrams.

Ask 3 simple questions

Creating great process documentation is not hard. You just need to follow the notation and ask 3 questions as you are mapping. Each question makes you pause and really think about their process.

1. What is the audience and scope for the map?

  • Purpose: Is the map just to set the strategy or it is going into enough detail to be used as an operational document to align customers and staff?
  • Audience: Is it for purely internal use or will you share it with customer?
  • Level of detail: What is background /training/experience of the audience, as this determines the level of detail?
  • Start & finish: When does it start; lead on website, qualified opportunity or signed contract? And when does it finish? What about each activity?

2. How can you describe each step so it starts with a verb?

How much more powerful and clearer are the descriptions? Compare the first process diagram with the last marketing image:

  • Buy … became Understand success prerequisites
  • Workshop … became Establish exec alignment
  • Educate … became Educate and prototype
  • Build… became Build product
  • Growth … became Drive joint success

3. Who is responsible for the ongoing improvement of the process step?

This is different from the list of resources involved in delivering the process step, but more specific than simply saying, ‘the VP Customer Success owns the overall process.’

Keep an eye out for the next and last post in this mini-series on change management series, in which I’ll share how to run live-process mapping workshops, based on 20 years experience across 1000+ customers, ranging from innovative startups to highly regulated Fortune 500 companies.

Elements.cloud is a free (yes free forever, for everyone) business requirements and business process mapping app integrated into Salesforce that is designed to work at “workshop-speed” and architected for SIs working with clients.

3 Simple Questions to Take Process Documentation from ‘Good’ to ‘Great’ was originally published in Inside the Salesforce Ecosystem on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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