A common misconception in the IT world, especially with IT consulting, is the idea that a tool or technology can solve a problem. Although this is sometimes the case, jumping to that conclusion often misses an important step. Before deciding on what technology or solution you want to implement, it is important to understand the nature of the problem. Most processes can be broken down into a list of tasks or subtasks but that level of detail is insufficient when it comes to analyzing how each step interacts with the others and the effect on the overall process. Process modeling is important to understand processes at a deeper level which allows decision makers to not only find problems, but also their underlying causes. Therefore, their decisions can be informed and solutions justified. Here are four methods for documenting processes.
Flowcharts: Diagrams that use standard symbols, like rectangles, arrows and diamonds, to represent the sequence of steps, decision points and logic behind processes.
Swimlane Diagrams: Swimlanes list the steps in a process and use columns to represent the various responsible parties within a process.
Data Flow Diagram: These diagrams document the flow of data between processes. The four standard symbols represent the processes, data flows, data stores (i.e. databases) and external entities that provide or receive data from a process.
RACI Model: The RACI model is used to document who is responsible, accountable, consulted and informed for the steps/tasks within a process or function. The steps make up the rows, while the parties make up the columns. Each row can only have one Accountable party. This is the person who makes sure the step is completed. Each row must have at least one Responsible party, but can have multiple. Responsibility falls with the person who actually completes the step or task.