Process mapping saved my project- a case study.

Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc.Image via Wikipedia

You all know I'm a big fan of sorting out the fundamentals of processes.

Well it appears that the movie making arm of Sony is also a similar fan

Garrett Hunter, Director of IT at Sony Pictures Entertainment, has posted a slideshow illustrating a case study of a software implementation project he ran for the studio

It makes very interesting reading.

It appears that Garrett and his team spent time putting together requirements with their users but when it came time to sign them off the users baulked at this.

They stated that 'IT does not understand our business'.

This sent Garrett and his team back to the drawing board.

When they reviewed the situation it appeared that the methodology they had initially used had missed a great deal of the complexity and detail that the users needed for their new system. The team had used unstructured narrative based requirements and very high level process models to define the majority of the system, with the developers being left to define the class diagrams and data models. Consequently they had missed a large amount of detail contained in items such as complex business rules.

So they started a different approach using process mapping at a greater level of detail and standardising on BPMN as their notation.

Garrett indicates a number of 'ah ha!' findings that he shares in is presentation. They include

  • 'Get all the right people in the room or on the call'
  • 'Focus on the person doing the work not the supervisor'
  • 'Focus on modelling the end to end business process' and:
  • 'Develop business modelling as a discipline not a byproduct'

These are interesting for two reasons:

1) Looking back on the project with hindsight I would say that these findings are extremely obvious to all concerned. Which illustrates how important it is to define a lot of these things in the first place.
2) A lot of the findings Garrett talks about are identified and highlighted in my book "The Perfect Process Project"

As with many things in life the issues highlighted are usually caused by a case of 'lack of common sense'. I don't mean that in a derogatory way to Garrett or any of his co-workers but it's just that a lot of ingrained dogma about how projects are run causes simple things to be missed. Garrett states, for example, that current projects used numerous tools and modelling techniques which were prone to the whims of different analysts. As a result they standardised on BPMN and (apparently) the Metastorm/Provision toolset. This reduced the complexity and - along with a defined style guide - created a single standard that both users and developers could align with and understand.

This meant that ultimately the process models they created became the agreements with the end customer about requirements.

I would recommend taking a quick look at the slideshow presentation that Garrett has shared.

Are there any lessons that your business can learn from this?

Reminder: 'The Perfect Process Project' is still available. Don't miss the chance to get this valuable insight into how to make business processes work for you.

Click this link and follow the instructions to get this book.

For more about me check out my "About Me' page

All information is Copyright (C) G Comerford

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