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Process Workflow Models: The Essentials. Chapter 8. Swimlane diagrams . Chapter 8 – The Essentials of WF basic symbols and conventions for drawing swimlane diagrams Chapter 9 - Techniques for managing detail Chapter 10 – The finer points Chapter 11 – Building As-is Process Workflows.

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process workflow models the essentials

Process Workflow Models:The Essentials

Chapter 8

Workflow Modeling

swimlane diagrams
Swimlane diagrams
  • Chapter 8 – The Essentialsof WF
    • basic symbols and conventions for drawing swimlane diagrams
  • Chapter 9 - Techniques for managing detail
  • Chapter 10 – The finer points
  • Chapter 11 – Building As-is Process Workflows

Workflow Modeling

why use swimlane diagrams
Why use swimlane diagrams?
  • highlight the relevant variables — who, what, and when
  • simple notation that requires little or no training to understand
    • can show an entire business process from beginning to end
  • show a process at any level
    • from a very high view down to one showing each individual task
  • supports assessment — we can map, measure, and interpret, before or after implementation
    • Note: In practice, no one ever understands a complete business process

Workflow Modeling

swimlane diagrams the basics
Swimlane diagrams: The Basics
  • Workflow process model
    • Activity diagram in Unified Modeling Language (UML)
  • To show what is done, by whom, and in what sequence
    • who does what, and when
  • Think of the three Rs
    • Roles are the actors or process performers who participate in the process.
    • Responsibilities are the individual tasks that each actor is responsible for.
    • Routes are the workflows and decisions that connect the tasks together

Workflow Modeling

swimlane diagram essential elements
Swimlane diagram:Essential elements
  • The steps are shown as boxes in the swimlane of the actor who performs them.
  • Arrows show the flow of work from one step to the next.
  • A flow from one actor to another, one that crosses the line between swimlanes, is called a handoff.
  • A swimlane diagram traces the path of a single work item or transaction as it flows through the process
    • Not for multiple work items at a time

Workflow Modeling

workflow modeling the essence
Workflow Modeling: The Essence

Example 1 (Page 205)

  • 10-minute swimlane diagram
    • Figure 8.3 (actors and “dots”)

Example 2 (Page 205-213)

  • Who gets the work next?
    • Ask: What do you do?
  • How does it get there?
    • To find any new actor involved
  • Who really gets the work next?
    • Check if someone else is involved

Workflow Modeling

workflow modeling some questions raised
Workflow Modeling: Some Questions raised
  • Example 3 (Page 213-216)
    • RB Tel
  • How do I show…
    • Branching?
    • Optional steps?
    • The role played by systems or mechanisms
    • When we hand off control to the system?
    • When the system is used to support an activity, but isn’t given control?
    • Interaction with other processes?
    • The appropriate level of detail?
    • Activities such as a conversation that involve multiple actors (activities that span multiple swimlanes)?
    • Questions or comments?
    • Etc.

Workflow Modeling

1 actors and roles
1. Actors and roles
  • “Swimmers” that actually do the work
  • E.g.,
    • Student
      • Person playing a role
    • Admissions
      • Organization or department
    • Admin. Assistant
      • Job Title
    • Inbox
      • Holding Area
    • Student Info. System
      • Information System or machine

Workflow Modeling

2 process steps
2. Process steps
  • A task or set of tasks performed by an actor
    • Also called responsibilities, activities, actions
  • Keep it simple
    • Understandable to the most people with the least effort
      • no training or interpretation is necessary
    • Do not distinguish the types of steps such as:
      • value adding, handoff, and control
    • Less rigor and detail, but better involvement and buy-in

Workflow Modeling

process steps multiple actors
Process steps:multiple actors
  • Some situations such as meetings

Workflow Modeling

which steps to include
Which steps to include?
  • Trace a single work item (or package of items)
  • Show every actor that holds the work that
    • adds value
      • causes a state change in the direction of completion
    • moves the work along
      • some steps may not change the work item in any way, except to transport it between other steps in the workflow
    • introduces delay
      • some subsequent step cannot proceed until the delay-introducing step completes

Workflow Modeling

process steps naming guidelines
Process steps:Naming guidelines

Action verb

Assign, Validate, Sort,

Optional qualifier

Initial, Replacement, …


Service Request, Payment, …

Information on how (optional)

on Form MS-17, by fax, …

Workflow Modeling

3 workflow lines
3. Workflow Lines
  • Passing of work from one step to next
    • Shown as lines with arrowheads
    • When the first step completes, the second step begins, or can begin
    • Ask: Does the second step actually begin, or is another step or event necessary before the second step begins?
  • A handoff is a special kind of flow
    • Work passes, or is handed off, from one actor to another
    • Source of delay, errors, and expense

Workflow Modeling

workflow lines drawing guideline
Workflow Lines:Drawing guideline
  • Draw your diagrams with the flow lines leaving the step from the right, and entering from the left
  • Exception: when returning or looping

Workflow Modeling

workflow lines what to avoid
Workflow Lines:What to avoid

Avoid these forms:

  • flows that don’t convey timing and precedence
  • objective is to graphically show sequence, time & dependency -- not to save paper

Workflow Modeling

types of flow lines
Types of Flow Lines
  • Sequential
    • work proceeds from one step to the next in order
  • Conditional
    • a step (or sequence of steps) may or may not be accomplished at all, depending on the conditions
  • Parallel
    • two or more steps (or sequences of steps) proceed independently

Workflow Modeling

  • Use a box with the term “decide” or “determine” when naming the step that decides which fork in the branch is taken
  • Annotate any “optional” step

Workflow Modeling

multiple flows types of branches
Multiple flows: Types of branches

a fork can have:

  • AND branch
  • OR branch
  • XOR branch
    • eXclusive OR

Workflow Modeling

multiple flows parallel flow
Multiple flows: Parallel flow
  • multiple flow lines leaving a step, drawn one above another to convey parallel flow; can’t precisely indicate the timing of particular steps

Workflow Modeling

multiple flows alternate representation
Multiple flows: Alternate Representation
  • Steps that do not happen in a set sequence

Workflow Modeling