Comments On "The Art of the Business Workflow Diagram"

Today I read an article in BA Times called "The Art of the Business Workflow Diagram" ( and thought I'd jot down some comments as I go. I was drawn in by the first paragraph of the piece that says ...

"In many organizations, a business analyst is often assigned to a project where they may have little to no background on the actual business process they are supposed to analyze."

Bogie and Tanner back in 2014

Bogie and Tanner back in 2014

I've had mixed feelings if the above situation is a good thing, something to avoid or just a thing. When you look at job postings for business analyst positions, you see many that think that the business analyst must also be a subject matter expert. I've also seen other business analyst feel that if they don't know the domain perfectly, they cannot move forward with getting their deliverables (business cases, use cases, BRD, etc..) until they are a SME. 

As I read the rest of the article, it seems they author feels along the same lines that the business analyst needs to evolve into a SME and I'm not saying he is wrong. I am saying that he isn't necessarily right either. The second paragraph of the piece describes the realities of project schedule deadlines. Although, the true nature of this reality cannot be captured which such a short narrative. Project schedules, particularly on complex projects, is an intimate dance that can shift from a slow rumba, to a swing and then into one of the world's fastest tap dances. It can slow down until it is just one person is involved until their thing is done and then the floodgates are open and the project dance transforms into a flash mob of activity. 

It can be very frustrating for the project team if they are waiting for the business analyst to finish a backlog of workflow diagrams in which the rest of the team know the associated workflows by heart. In use cases as described above, the business analyst may need to shift the importance of their activities from "knowing" to "facilitating." In other words, the business analyst may not need to KNOW about a thing as much as they make sure that those that need to know are connected with the correct subject matter expert. That the associated documentation is good enough to validate that knowledge transfer and help the project manager with their demanding scheduling constraints. 

In closing, I really like what this article is saying and how the author is saying it. I’m just commenting that a business analyst should make sure they are not one dimensional in how they deliver value to a project. 

BTW: The article doesn't actually talk about the art of business workflow diagraming. I can imagine a book that really examines different approaches to workflow diagrams, how different techniques can present different value propositions and perhaps a nice big tips section! That would be particularly awesome and I assume their may be some books like that out there already. 

© 2018 Dwayne Wright