Most projects get their business process documentation wrong. This has serious consequences for all downstream activities, and overall project success.
Over the last 20 years I've seen a few common issues pop up again and again. Today, we're going to look at what's going wrong, why it matters, and how you can fix it.
Note: This article assumes you know the basics of business processes - if not, check out the wikipedia page for more info.
Why business process documentation is so important
Your business process documentation should provide a solid and reliable reference point.
If you don't have business process documentation your development and test teams are flying blind. How can dev know what the business needs? How can test know whether to pass or fail? Saying that, a lack of processes documentation will at least stimulate conversation and try to establish the business 'truth'.
If, however, you have bad process documentation, there's a very real risk that you'll develop and test the wrong solution. People are more likely to just accept what they're given, less likely to question, less likely to find the real 'truth'.
You've been doing Business Process Documentation Wrong
There are potentially myriad reasons why your business process documentation is letting you down. Most of these though, stem from 1 master issue - you're doing it wrong.
Let's look at some of the common issues. They're generally common sense, at least at first glance. In fact, at lot of these issues might seem trivial. In fact, I've found these issues are surprisingly difficult to circumvent - especially in the throes of a major project.
- You're Going Round in Circles
Business Process Documentation usually goes through iteration after iteration during a project. A lot of this comes from the back-and-forth between BA's and User community. BA's trying to get information and commitment, frustrated by the lack of detail. Users trying to get on with their day job, unaccustomed to communicating the specifics of what, why and how they do what they do.
Sometimes the circling lasts for months and the documentation is just accepted, without being fit-for-purpose. Good-enough to get a tick in the box, without being good-enough to be useful to developers, users or testers.
- Your Documents are Out-of-Date Before they're Even Published
That tick in the box usually marks the death of the document. From that point onwards, the document is completely static.
If your documentation doesn't evolve, it dies. The longer it remains static, the less your documentation will represent actual system usage.
Eventually someone will dig this up and try to use it. Maybe for a new development, maybe to train up some new users, or as a scripting reference for a regression test. You don't need me to tell you how badly that could end-up.
- Duplicated and Wasted Effort
Your business processes need to be documented, don't get me wrong… but you're already documenting them for your test cases and your training materials. I'm willing to bet, in fact I'm sure, that you are not deriving your various docs from a single source. Few do.
You're building different documents covering the exact same functionality, albeit with different end-goals. This creates so much duplication and wasted effort. It's not just the document creation, wasting BA time, but the knowledge transfer sessions, meetings, reviews etc.
Your documentation should all stem from a single source of truth, with subtle variations in format and content. This both keeps your project efficient, and ensures everyone is singing from the same hymn-sheet.
- Your Documentation has Inconsistent Quality
Your documentation is all-over-the-place. Take your BA staff, I bet they're at different levels. Sure, Kim has been doing this for ages and will do a great job, but what about Steve? Has he even received proper BA training…. or did he just land in the role?
It's generally true that no two people will create documentation to the same standard. It might not be any better, or any worse, but it will be different. This always creates problems down the line. When people try to use the documents, they want easy-to-access information. They don't want to be slowed down by changes, confused by variation, or completely stumped by something they've never seen.
How to Fix Your Business Process Documentation
Imagine if you could just click a button… and your docs were ready. Let's just reminds ourselves what that would give us:
- Clear access to the truth - No need to go round in circles trying to find it
- Documentation is always up-to-date
- Efficient use of effort - no waste
- Rock-solid consistency throughout your entire Business Process Documentation library.
How would that impact your project? How much time and confusion would this cut through? You'd get rid of all that back-and-forth, you'd eliminate any doubt or uncertainty from the docs, you'd shed days and days of effort from your project, and your budget.
What a solution that would be, if only it was realistic. Instead, it sounds more like magic. It's pie-in-the-sky stuff. Nothing can streamline business process documentation like that… can it?
Qualibrate - Business Process Automation
Well yes, something can, and that something is Business Process Automation - Without doubt the easiest and most convenient way to generate business process documentation.
Qualibrate is the world's leading business process automation solution.
- Qualibrate - Gives you a Single Source of Truth
With Qualibrate you can generate business process documentation with the click of a button. Not only that, but your test cases and training documentation can be generated in the same way… from a single source, with a single click.
- Qualibrate - Gives you Up-to-Date Documentation
As your documentation is held in a single location, it only ever needs to be updated in one place. Then you can just generate your business process, training and test documentation as you need it.
Does this guarantee completely up-to-date documentation? Not entirely, but it does make it incredibly easy to keep it all up-to-date. It removes the barriers.
- Qualibrate - Stops you Wasting Time and Effort
How long does test take to generate their test cases? How long does training take to generate their learning materials? How long do your BA's take to generate business process docs? It normally takes months and months of effort.
Qualibrate does all of this from a single-source. Ok, so you have to populate that single source once - but that's still a massive 66% reduction in asset creation effort and the same 66% saving in maintaining those assets.
- Qualibrate - Gives You High-Quality and Rock-Solid Consistency
All of your documentation is created to the highest standard. Consistent, uniform and predictable. Your documentation is easy to understand and contains the correct level of detail.
Find Out How Qualibrate Can Help You
You’ve been doing business process documentation wrong - but Qualibrate is here to help. We are the leading business process documentation solution because we save our customers time, effort and stress.
If you already do process documentation, click here to find out how Qualibrate can help.
If you don't, you really need to start, you should click here.
Remember, your business process documentation is critical, but it doesn't need to be so onerous.
With Qualibrate you get world leading business process automation and a single-source for process docs, training and testing.