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Study Guide — Workflow and Process Analysis
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Study Guide — Workflow and Process Analysis

Participate in the collaboration! If you can suggest a recommended reading on any of the topics below, please complete the reference template for consideration of this source. Be sure to include the CFSP outline reference (example: I. Process/Workflow Analysis — B. Fact Finding — 2. Methods) for each recommendation.

Keep the recommended readings up-to-date! Please notify us at if a reading is no longer relevant to the outline topic, or if a resource is no longer available.

Note: The recommended readings were compiled by individual members and BFMA study groups. These readings have not been approved by the Form Systems Certification Board and therefore, completion of some or all readings does not guarantee a passing score on the actual CFSP exam.

I. Workflow and Process Analysis

A. Assessment of Objectives and Project Scope
Before any effective forms design effort is made, the prudent forms professional studies and analyzes the workflow supported by the form(s). This analysis considers the likely interfaces and impacts, both routine and exceptional, which can be expected to occur during the use of the form(s).

Recommended Readings:
Book: Chapter 3 Defining a Process Improvement Project from Detail Process Charting by Ben B. Graham
Article: Document Business Process Improvement: The Method & The Tools Are Everything by Rick Madar

B. Fact Finding
Since assumptions are naturally prone to error, a thorough search and evaluation of actual situations and existing environments helps to assure that subsequent decisions are realistic and based upon fact. When gathering facts do not get into discussions of why things are done. That question is postponed until we get to analysis, at which time it becomes the most important question.

Recommended Readings:
Article: Process Flow Charting and Analysis: Part 1 of 2 – Data Gathering and Charts by Dr. Ben S. Graham, Jr. CFSP
Article: Business Process Analysis by Ben B. Graham

1. Questions
General rule of thumb: Direct questions to the person who actually performs the work to describe what is done and how it is accomplished. Managers often possess only a cursory overview of the functions supported by the forms. Those who use the form (or will use a new form) are best equipped to explain/describe reality.

Recommended Readings:
Book: Chapter 4 Gathering the Facts from Detail Process Charting by Ben B. Graham

2. Methods
Various methods can be employed by the analyst. Examples include: observation of the work s it is being done by those who fill-in the form; examination of written procedures; focus group discussion of the "ideal" function(s) of the form; solicitation of comments from those who receive the filled-in form; etc.

Recommended Readings:
Book: Chapter 7 Aids to For Analysis from Forms For People by Robert Barnett
Article: Dealing with "Attitudes" Professionally by Dr. Ben S. Graham CFSP

3. Basic Functions of Business
Identification and examination of the reach of the form(s) and the repercussions of its use across the various affected business systems.

Recommended Readings:
Book: Chapter 6 Process Chart Building Blocks from Detail Process Charting by Ben B. Graham
Book: Appendix List of Subjects, Operations or Conditions, and Functions from The Business Forms Handbook by DMIA

C. Data Organization
Data is defined as discrete facts and metrics that serve as the raw materials for the development of information. The proper and appropriate organization of that data results in useful information.

1. Process Charting / Mapping
Often, the easiest way for everyone concerned to understand clearly the steps within a process and how they are performed, including all the systems and players involved, is to view a linear chart of the whole process. Such a chart includes not only who does what, when and where, but also maps where delays and repetitive steps may occur. Such a chart also reveals critical chances for error and identifies streamlining opportunities.

Recommended Readings:
Article: Detail Process Charting – The Business Process Analyst’s Most Powerful Tool by Ben Graham
Article: Process Modelling and Mapping by Kelly Halseth

2. Recurring Data Analysis
Examination of the data elements that occur most often, the errors that are most apt to happen, and the most often encountered delays and reworks provides the basis for process clarification and work simplification.

Recommended Readings:
Book: Chapter 4 Forms Systems Analysis from Introduction to Forms Design and Conrol by Marc Durbin

3. Pareto Analysis
"The Pareto Principle states that only a 'vital few' factors are responsible for producing most of the problems (cause and effect). This principle can be applied to quality improvements to the extent that a great majority of problems (80%) are produced by a few key causes (20%). If we correct these few key causes, we will have a greater probability of success." EGI-2003

Recommended Readings:
Article: iSixSigma Tools and Templates - Pareto Analysis

4. Other
Special attention should be given to the usability of the form by the person who reads (receives) the completed form; not just to the person who writes (fills in) the form.

Recommended Readings:
Book: Part 5 Testing Forms from Forms For People by Robert Barnett

D. Analysis
After defining the scope of the project, gathering facts, and organizing the data, it's time to do an analysis of the meaning of the results of those efforts.

Recommended Readings:
Article: Process Flow Charting and Analysis: Part 2 of 2 – Analysis and Approval Dr. Ben S. Graham, Jr.

1. Questions
The questioning method involves asking the factual questions (what?  who? when? where? and how?), along with the most important question for analysis which is "why?"   First we ask it along with the question "what" to justify the existence of the form. If we ask "what" (identifying the form) and then we ask "why" and there is no reason we should eliminate the form.  A further test asks what the result/impact would be if the form did NOT exist. (Confirms need.)

When it has been determined that that there is a good reason for a form the next questions should be when and why - where and why - who and why.  The results of these questions lead to discovering that the work is being done at the wrong time. Or in the wrong place or by the wrong person and these conditions can be corrected.

The last pair of questions to ask is how and why which leads to refining the writing methods, often with improved equipment.  But it is most important to follow this sequence in questioning.  Too often people, enamored with equipment, focus on how the form is written first which can lead to forms that are unnecessary being filled in at the wrong time, in the wrong place by the wrong person, using the finest - and often most expensive - equipment that money can buy.

Recommended Readings:
Book: Chapter 6 The Forms Analysis Process from Forms For People by Robert Barnett
Book: Chapter 8 Interviewing from Forms For People by Robert Barnett
Book: Chapter 4 Form Systems Analysis from Introduction to Forms Design and Control by Marc Durbin

2. Methods
Methodology and step sequences may differ among analysts, but the ultimate purpose of the analysis process is to understand the task(s) to be performed by the form tool(s).

Recommended Readings:
Book: Chapter 6 The Forms Analysis Process from Forms For People by Robert Barnett
Article: Re-Engineering Business Forms by Robert Barnett

E. Solution Development
Finding the optimal outcome among all possible business solutions is the goal of the analysis. The pros and cons of each potential solution should be weighed objectively and the best solution should be selected, developed and implemented. Care must be given to honor all organizational policy and legal requirements, including those related to Section 508 (user accessibility standards).

Recommended Readings:
Book: Chapter 8 Using Process Charts from Detail Process Charting by Ben B. Graham

F. Recommendations
It is not unusual for a forms analyst to be required to present the results of an analysis project, along with their considered recommendations , to the directly affected user community and/or to functional management prior to beginning implementation of a form system design project.

Recommended Readings:
Article: Process Flow Charting and Analysis: Part 2 of 2 – Analysis and Approval Dr. Ben S. Graham, Jr.

1. Proposal Preparation
Preparation of the proposal should include all pertinent information accumulated during the analysis process. Most of it will be held in reserve to provide detail only upon request, but all should be considered when developing the final proposal.

The written proposal that will be given to management at the time of the presentation should, however, not exceed one page.  It includes only conclusions, none of the detailed effort that arrived at those conclusions.  We are not trying to tell management how hard we worked.  Rather we try to tell management what they should do.

Recommended Readings:
Article: Calculating Business Process Improvement Benefits by Dr. Ben S. Graham, Jr.

2. Presentation
Plan the presentation carefully, being mindful of the dynamics of the expected audience. Keep the presentation simple, clear and uncluttered. Provide detail when requested. Don't oversell (shut up and sit down when you've said what needs to be said)! Include a target completion date, whenever appropriate. Offer criteria for measuring project success.

Recommended Readings:
Article: Effective Management Presentations by Dr. Ben S. Graham, Jr.

G. Implementation
Once the analysis is done and the decision made as to which alternative solution is to be implemented, it's time to make it happen.

Whether the end product is intended to be a paper form, an electronic form, an Internet form or some combination of the formats, pre-and post-handling issues must be addressed.

Recommended Readings:
Article: Implementing Change by Dr. Ben S. Graham, Jr.

1. Implementation Plan
Implementation will not be an automatic occurrence. It must be planned. When will the form(s) be made available? Where and how may they be obtained by the users? In what format(s) will the user find them?

If electronic, what server will house the form? The database(s) that may be accessed must be identified and made accessible. System interfaces must be planned, installed and tested. Implementation timing must be determined and published.

Recommended Readings:
Article: Implementing Change by Dr. Ben S. Graham, Jr., CFSP
Article: Productivity Gain without Downsizing by Dr. Ben S. Graham CFSP

2. Installation
Approved forms must be made available to the using community. If they are paper, users must be informed about how to obtain stock. Stock levels and reorder points must be established. If they are electronic, users must be told the server addresses or URLs where they may find the forms. Testing must confirm access.

Recommended Readings:
Book: Chapter 15 Supplying the Forms to Users from Managing Business Forms by Robert Barnett
Book: Chapter 16 Managing Electronic Forms from Managing Business Forms by Robert Barnett

3. Documentation
Documentation should address three (3) areas.
1. Development documentation describing the thought processes of the analyst/designer in constructing the form.
2. Clear instructions for the user on how to complete the form, where to go with questions, and how to request form changes.
3. Policy & procedural information on how the form fits into the business system(s) it addresses.

Recommended Readings:
Book: Chapter 8 Using Process Charts from Detail Process Charting by Ben B. Graham

4. Training
Needless to say, the ideal form is self-instructing. In the event, however, that detailed training is appropriate, it should be offered in the way(s) most applicable to the situation, taking into account the complexity of the form(s) and the level of expertise already in existence among the current and prospective users.

Recommended Readings:
Book: Chapter 8 Implementation and Training from Establishing a System of Policies and Procedures by Stephen Page

H. Follow-up and Evaluation
At a predetermined interval following full implementation of the form(s), a check should be made to validate the usability and effectiveness of the form among all users (writers and readers). Any modifications that are identified should be implemented either immediately (if critical) or at a scheduled interval (if routine). If changes require new instructions, they must be provided to all users when any changes are introduced. Documentation and interfaces should also be updated at this time.

Recommended Readings:
Book: Chapter 13 Form Review from Managing Business Forms by Robert Barnett

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2018 Best Practices in Forms Management

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