Milk, butter and business processes

Mary Berger from Land O’ Lakes kicked off the customer presentations by talking about how they modelled several of their core business processes in spite of the lack of in-house resources, both analysts and SMEs. They backfilled their own resources with some of the Proforma team, then had sufficient success on the first three core processes that they split the efforts and did the next six processes, three product and three office, as two separate streams using Proforma and internal resources.

Mary summarized a number of key success factors that any organization attempting this could take to heart:

  • Do the modelling live during the sessions with the SMEs, rather than taking notes and trying to transcribe them later. This increases the accuracy, since there is immediate feedback on the process model, creates the final documentation as you go along, and forces those who are facilitating and documenting the session to become very familiar with the modelling tool. I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve spent in hotel rooms after a day of customer requirements elicitation sessions, transcribing my notes and trying to recreate every detail mentioned during the day; real-time business modelling is definitely the right way to go, assuming that you have both a facilitator and a scribe/modeller.
  • Use small teams, and involve the right people from the start. Smaller teams just get things done faster and more efficiently, and having everyone on board from the beginning means that you spend less time playing catch-up with those who join later.
  • In workflow models (the most common model type that they used), you can pinpoint the functions of highest risk as those with the most I/O outside their own swimlane. That seems obvious in retrospect, but she highlighted the point well.

They also found that there were a number of unexpected benefits that came out of the analysis and modelling efforts: a common corporate glossary and vocabulary; documented business procedures for use in training and procedures manuals; a visible link between business requirements and goals; and a set of business rules.

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