Integral Workflow Analysis – Understanding Business Architecture

What’s Integral?
To suggest that workflow and its analysis is integral is to suggest that work flows along a bunch of different lines in a bunch of different “spheres’ of human experience. That sounds kind of flaky to some people I’m sure so I will suggest that what makes it integral is that it unfolds – in this day and age – in a “business architecture”. We’ve all seen an architect’s drawings at some point. We know that a home – before it can be built – is designed to include walls and floors, plumbing, wiring, windows, and decorative attributes. Those drawings include measures, standards are met and they help contractors build budgets where materials and labor are concerned. Based on the drawing, one can estimate time, cost and quality. With a solid blueprint describing the outcome, everyone – including the painter – knows what to do and in what sequence. That’s integral.

Who, What, Where, When, Why and How
A business architecture approach to workflow includes an inventory of people (actors), procedures, policies (business rules), systems and applications (software), data (and information) and the technology (hardware) that supports the work being done. A complete workflow includes elements of time, cost, efficiency, quality and features “triggers” or activating events that control when things are to happen to whom or what and how they happen. Workflow analysis also includes decisions, describes the importance of decisions and clealry reflects transitions and hand-offs.

More Integral
What can make workflow analysis and a business architecture even more integral? How about training implications? Legal considerations? standards and qualifications? Normalized language (so everybody knows what you’re talking about?) Taking culture into account will render your analysis more thorough. Consider the political forces driving behavior in your environment. How about economic drivers? What are the incentives for change? What are the consequences if you run into resistance? Do people understand how changes reflect values in your organization? Is your mission better served by the results of your analysis?

Taking the time to consider all of the interdependencies above will make your analysis more fruitful in the process. It’s also a call to include a wide variety of champions and subject matter experts. The most important aspect of successful workflow redesign is the buy-in you cultivate. Without agreement and committment, you’re as good as done before you begin.

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