Sorry, folks, this is a bit out of character for me, but I just can't take it anymore. Please bear with me.
Can we PLEASE get rid of data flow diagrams for human process management forever? Everytime I open up a visio which is supposed to communicate a customer or prospect's business process and I am faced with those diamonds and squares with the 'Yes' / 'No' alternate flows I literally scream.
Believe me, I'm not saying data flow diagrams don't serve a purpose! They do - but that purpose is NOT for documenting human processes. Why? Well, just to name a few.
Why Data Flow Diagrams Should be Banned for Human Workflow
1. First and foremost, business users struggle to read these diagrams
Clarity of communication about business processes with the business users is paramount to success. If we are using methods on the technology team that in any way create a separation with the business users, shame on us!
If we are to effect any positive business process management, we need to break down barriers between the technology and business teams - not introduce new ones!
2. Technology teams try to combine requirements for four distinct areas into a single mechanism - and it ends up obfuscating, not clarifying, the requirements for each.
Business process management requires distinct requirements to be gathered, documented and communicated across the following four areas (each of which requires different information and presentation).
If you try to jam requirements for all of the above into a data flow diagram, you end up jumbling and obfuscating the requirements. This leads to confusion and lack of traceability of requirements into the solution.
3. The level of detail for all elements gets equalized, which is not appropriate.
Small details get elevated to the same level of importance as big ticket items. This leads to misprioritization and overall confusion.
4. Not an effective, visual cue at the outset or on an ongoing basis.
Step away from a data flow diagram for a few hours and when you come back you'll find yourself re-reading everything to remember what it is trying to say about your human workflow. These are horrible mechanisms for providing a useful, visually understandable tool for requirements gathering and for the business to use on an ongoing basis in understanding complex business processes. The business process map is a key tool for your business process project and for the business down the line. These data flow diagrams are decidedly NOT.
Do you know when we use data flow diagrams? When they are useful - like for state-based workflows, or the flow of data between various systems. We do NOT EVER use them for documentation of human workflow business processes. Think of it this way - a data flow diagram is just one tool in the toolbox. Use it for what it's good at and meant for, and leave it in the toolbox when it doesn't fit the job.
Everyone will be happier and achieve better success this way!
Ok, thanks for listening. I feel a bit better now - except I've got 15 pages of data flow diagrams to read through so I can translate them into something useful. SIGH.