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New Post 3/17/2010 2:47 AM
User is offline surreyfrog
5 posts
10th Level Poster


beginner's question re processes and functions 

Hi All

 

Forgive this basic question, but I'm new to the game.

I think I have the grasp of what a business process is, my understanding is that it is a series of steps that achieve a business goal, for instance if you are in the cinema business a process might be book a ticket.

However I'm hazy about what a business function is - processes and functions are talked about as if they are 2 different things.

So what is a function and what makes it different to a process?

And I guess, finally, if processes and functions are different animals, is it necessary to somehow map them together, because it sounds like they both would describe things that are done by a business, and it strikes me that you will end up confused if you are describing one business in two different ways!

Thanks

 

 

 

 
New Post 3/17/2010 4:10 AM
User is offline Kimbo
450 posts
5th Level Poster


Re: beginner's question re processes and functions 
Modified By Kimbo  on 3/17/2010 6:11:51 AM)

 Pretty good question Surreyfrog. I had to think about it for a while. 

The way I view it is that a function - described by a use case - is something an actor would tend to do at one time. Say "book a ticket" in your cinema analogy. A process is something that has a number of activities / functions that tend to occur over a period of time. Something like process "See Movie at Cinema" which has activities like "View Whats On", "Book Ticket", "Drive to Cinema", "Park Car", "Collect Ticket", "Check Ticket", "Watch Movie", etc, etc.

Notice that some functions are manual and some are supported by a system. I recommend when you are modelling a business process to capture all functions in the process, including the manual functions.

Also notice that even this simple example has possible alternatives to include in the process like what if the Ticket is mailed or its an eTicket and you print it off before going. What if you pay when booking or pay when pick up the ticket. What if you walk to the cinema, etc, etc.

When you're modelling a process, what you thought initially was a simple function, when you look at it more closely, can turn out to be a process in its own right i.e. you may end up having nested processes.

Kimbo

 
New Post 3/17/2010 7:14 AM
User is offline surreyfrog
5 posts
10th Level Poster


Re: beginner's question re processes and functions 

Any idea where a function hierarchy, as opposed to use cases, would fit in?

 
New Post 3/17/2010 9:09 AM
User is offline Guy Beauchamp
257 posts
www.smart-ba.com
5th Level Poster




Re: beginner's question re processes and functions 

 Hi Surreyfrog,

a process is as you defined it. A function is a reusable component in a process that has inputs and outputs that mean it can be used in many processes: it can be 'slotted in' to a process because in every process at that point it gets the same inputs and produces outputs needed by subsequent process steps. I think the concept comes from programming...an example might be "verify a customer" which you use as part of "place order" process and "issue refund" process.

Hard and fast rule? Hardly. Does it matter though? As a BA you need to model business processes - functions are not required to develop a full statement of business process requirements, process models and process steps are. If functions help, use them. If not, don't!

Hope that helps,

Guy

 
New Post 3/18/2010 2:47 AM
User is offline Kimbo
450 posts
5th Level Poster


Re: beginner's question re processes and functions 
Modified By Kimbo  on 3/18/2010 4:50:24 AM)

 Hi Surreyfrog,

I have to disagree with one thing Guy said even though he is a bit of a guru on here. One thing I have learnt is to seek a level of process mapping whereby the process steps are effectively functions. The fact I use a use case to define it is not really relevant to this discussion. By function I mean something like "enter application", "approve application", etc. These map neatly into function definition. Note that functions can be manual or automated and you should capture all activities in the process.

Kimbo 

 
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