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New Post 3/4/2011 5:25 AM
User is offline elaine
1 posts
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Checklist of questions that should be asked 

Hi there

I was hoping I could get some help.   I am not a business analyst, but I have been charged with documenting the the current business processes in our company.  I have been reading extensively on all of the tools and mapping tools out there.

My problem is that these all seem to be for the purpose of leading to what a solution is and are all quite technical .  We are in the position where we know we will be converting to new IT systems. What I have to do is document the current processes so that we can go to vendors from a position of knowledge on what our processes are  ( they in turn are likely to do their own review).  I do not need to go down to the granular level ( screen shots)  as we will be buying an off the shelf solution with miminal tweaking intended.   What I am tring to find is a template of questions that you should ask people what you are documenting the systems.  I 'd like to have it as a prompt to me so that I can ensure I am gathering as much info as possible.  It is not a case of having to familiarise myself with the business as I am already on staff and understand the business.

If someone could point me in a direction that would be great.

Thanks very much

New Post 3/15/2011 5:03 AM
User is offline Craig Brown
560 posts
4th Level Poster

Re: Checklist of questions that should be asked 


It's a tough ask to nail this in this forum.  You should contact someone in your local area for some face to face advice.  People will be happy to share.


But - think about this -  

  • Who's your audience? What do they want to know?
  • Key issues are inputs, outputs and decicions.
  • Decisions are supported by data and made based on business rules.

These are the fundamentals.

There are some drawing conventions in the BPMN standards which would be useful to follow, but stick to the basics and don't get hung up on standards. The diagrams shiouyld be able to explain themseleves.



New Post 3/15/2011 11:35 PM
User is offline KJ
243 posts
6th Level Poster

Re: Checklist of questions that should be asked 


This is a tuff question. Lets say your business sells stuff to customers; most businesses do! So the process is:
  1. Order Taking (“Mary gets a call in the morning from our customers and writes their orders on 3-part (pink, blue and white) paper in the order book”)
  2. Order Fulfilment (“At lunch time Joe takes the “pink copy” and picks the items in the warehouse”)
  3. Order Shipping (“Max calls the Courier at 4pm for the urgent interstate orders; Joe drops the rest of the orders off at the Post Office on his way home”)
  4. Order Invoicing (“Joe photo-copies the pink copy for his records and gives the updated pink copy to Mary for Invoicing”).
  5. Order Payments (“Max checks the mail-box at the post office and gives all the received cheques and remittance advices to Joanna, who comes in on Wednesday and Fridays for recording payments and sending out reminder letters. Joanna is the boss’ sister”)
Most of the time people will tell you their story “how” they do things. The “how” of the process is my narrative in (“brackets”). They’ll also tell you things that are irrelevant, like “Joanna is the boss’ sister”
One of the things the Business Analyst does is to eventually get to the “essential” processes (the ones in italics) that specify “what” needs to be done. Once you know “what” needs to be done, you can satisfy the requirement with many “Hows” (design issues). For example, Customers can place orders via the internet; Order Taker (was Mary) can enter orders into Order Screen; etc.
I would suggest that you engage a seasoned BA to help with the recording/reviewing of the “how” processes; and with his/her help, arrive at the essential processes, which you will use to “select” your future applications. Since you know the business very well you’d be the Subject Matter Expert working with a seasoned BA; and collectively arrive at a solution that is satisfactory to your company.
Warm regards,
New Post 3/26/2011 10:28 PM
User is offline IanB
4 posts
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Re: Checklist of questions that should be asked 

Hi Elaine,

               my suggestion would be to start by breaking up the business into the relevant departments - Buying, Marketing, Supply Chain, Logistics, Distribution, administration etc.

Then select from within each department person/s who are experts in that department and sit down with then to give you and overall breakdown of each activity, who is involved and how long each activity takes.

Approach it in a logical fashion - begining to end.

I'm always a little wary of "Off the shelf" applications as they do not always provide all the solutions and tweaking to suit the client usually takes time and money.

On top of that there are times when the financial cost of and the implimentation overrides the business needs and a business can end up with a "white elephant", inefficient processes and disgruntled employees who find way to "Work around" the system.


Hopes this helps. I can understand the need for a checklist to make sure all bases are covered and nothing is missed.

New Post 3/27/2011 10:41 PM
User is offline Riz
3 posts
No Ranking

Re: Checklist of questions that should be asked 

 I think it is really hard to come up with a checklist which can at the end ensure that you have documented all the possible use cases.

If I have to do it, I might start with asking the users or myself (if I have all the domain knowledge) about the current Business Process and will try to model it so that I know the flow of the information. Once I have the pictorial view, I can easily describe all the inputs, any processing which I need to do base on the information and the desired output I will get. 

Do note, If you are documenting your Legacy system and you want to suggest any change then you need to document AS-IS and TO-BE business models, this will help the vendors to actually know the required change and will eventually help you guys to quickly wrap up the work.

While modeling your business process, you can tag the processes or the transition between processes, this will help the readers to easily understand what is happening where. Let me know if you need any samples/help….

-- Riz


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