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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series

Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your


Business Processes
Forward by Terry Schurter or the Bennu Group

Copyright © 2007 SmartDraw.com


Forward

business process analysis and


Business Process Management –
modeling products (BPAM), business
Helping the right work get done, at the
process management systems
right time and in the right way
(BPMS) and business rules
engines/systems (BRE/BRMS). These
by Terry Schurter products all have one thing in
(www.terryschurter.com) common; they are software tools
focused on giving people the ability to
model the processes behind the work
Business process management being done in the organization with
(BPM) is essentially the recognition other features and functions that can
that everything we (people) do fits the also support operations (execution)
definition of a process (a systematic and deeper understanding (analysis)
series of actions directed to some of these processes.
end, Dictionary.com Unabridged v
1.1) and that thinking (and managing) The big leap in business process
the things we do as business management rests with the ability to
processes is far more effective than model processes the way they really
other ways we might pursue getting are (this is what we really do) and to
our work done. develop models of how we need to do
things to improve the results of our
So if the things we do are best business (what we need to do) is a
thought of as processes then it makes level of flexibility and agility preceding
sense that we should find ways to technologies cannot deliver (at least
express these processes in ways that not in a timely or cost-efficient
we can document, design, modify and manner). Packaged applications
share our understanding of our (ERP, HR, CRM, Accounting,
processes. This is where process Logistics, etc.) all have business
modeling or process charting comes processes embedded in them, but
into the discussion because at the these processes have strict limits on
very earliest stages of BPM it was how they can be changed. Making
quickly recognized that graphical changes to packaged applications can
modeling of processes (process be extremely costly and even when
charts) was a powerful means for they can be made there are numerous
businesses to document the work that system constraints that simply cannot
needs to be done in the organization, be changed no matter how much
share that information with others and resource is thrown at them. Yet much
help people understand what they of the value in the modeling or
need to do in relationship to the work charting of business processes is
of other people in the organization. gained by keeping things much
simpler than many might believe
because the initial value proposition
Since the early days of BPM a huge
comes back to documenting what we
software market has developed to
do, what we need to do and in the
support this new business
sharing of this information in a visual
management paradigm including
way that people without specific

Copyright © 2007 SmartDraw.com


product training can intuitively powerful means to help the business
understand. be more successful – to get the right
work done at the right time and in the
“Yet much of the value in the right way. That is where we all should
modeling or charting of business start because if we miss this piece of
processes is gained by keeping the BPM opportunity it is far too easy
things much simpler than many to get lost in complexity that produces
might believe because the initial little (if any) value to the organization.
value proposition comes back to
documenting what we do, what we Unfortunately, the advent of standards
need to do and in the sharing of in business process management
this information in a visual way that (business process management
people without specific product notation – BPMN, business process
training can intuitively execution language – BPEL, etc.)
understand.” completely misses the point of what
BPM is really all about. These
standards impinge on the intuitive
Process Maps with Meaning value of process maps. The use of
icons that visually “tell us” their
When BPM software first emerged on purpose and meaning are far more
the software scene products used effective in helping us (the “mappers”
graphically intuitive icons and very and the “doers”) get our work done
simple graphical modeling and that is what we are trying to do.
development environments. Process Simplicity and intuitiveness, these are
models or charts needed little, if any, the attributes of business process
explanation as the resulting “process maps that consistently create
maps” spoke for themselves. We had business value.
found a new way to unravel much of
the complexity of the work being done
in the organization and the resulting Getting Started – A Quick Guide to
visual representations of processes Success
helped everybody know what needed
to be done, and why. This was a So where can we start and what
tremendous leap forward in helping guidelines should we follow to make
the people in organizations increase sure the work we do helps our
performance, reduce cost and business be more successful? Here
improve quality. are some tips that can help keep us
on the “straight and narrow.”
Today the BPM software market has
many variants that can serve many Think about processes as the work
purposes but the core value, the people do. By keeping people in mind
intuitive visual representation of the throughout mapping and modeling
work people do, remains one of the activities we can keep a closer
biggest benefits that can be derived connection to “reality,” and that will
from BPM. While the software industry make our work immediately usable.
has focused on advanced features
and functions (many of which are very Apply the KISS principle (Keep It
beneficial – though some are perhaps Simple, Stupid). It's very easy to get
not so beneficial) intuitive icons and carried away when we start modeling
simple process maps still stand as a and mapping processes. The more

Copyright © 2007 SmartDraw.com


detail we put into our models, the “picture” of the process that anything
more difficult it is to understand them. has actually changed out there in the
If we aren't careful we can quickly real world! Keeping your process
reach a point where our “process models simple and using intuitive
maps” can only be understood by a icons will help communicate process
few people who work with these maps changes but talking to the people
on a regular basis. affected (closing the loop) has to be
part of making change real! They don't
Don't try to document everything that know what has changed, or why, until
“could” be a process in the you tell them – and telling them is part
organization. Building thousands of of responsibility. Nike may tell us to
process models may be fun but does “Just Do It” but when it comes to
it really help anyone get work done? process modeling, and model
This is its own form of complexity and changes, we have to “Do It Right!”
overuse of modeling and mapping can
quickly send everyone else in the
organization running for cover. The
goal is to help people do their work
better, faster and smarter. But if they
won't use what we create then how
does this help anybody?

Just because you know what a


symbol means does not mean that
anybody else (or everybody) knows
what those symbols mean. Process
maps and models often get used by
many people, and it’s common that
lots of these folks won't have any
training on what icons are supposed
to mean. It doesn't help create
success if people in the organization
interpret the symbols differently. This
just adds to the confusion!

Remember that modeling and


mapping in software creates an
abstract of what is really happening
out there in the world of work. Try to
picture what people really have to do
in their jobs when you create models
and maps. Go out and see for yourself
what their job is like. Test what you
create on various people to see if they
immediately “get it” without explaining
what the model means!

Finally, when you change process


maps and models, don't assume that
just because you changed that pretty

Copyright © 2007 SmartDraw.com


Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

Table Of Contents
What are business processes and why should I describe them?............................................................... 7
The Business Case to Describe Business Processes .................................................................................. 8
Reasons to use Business Graphics to Describe your Business Processes ................................................. 10
Business Graphics and “IDOC”.............................................................................................................. 11
What are the key business processes by major functional area? ........................................................... 12
Key Functional Areas ........................................................................................................................... 12
Planning .............................................................................................................................................. 13
Planning-related Business Processes ................................................................................................. 13
Process Details ................................................................................................................................. 14
Human Resources ................................................................................................................................ 15
HR Related Business Processes ......................................................................................................... 15
Process descriptions ......................................................................................................................... 16
Facilities Management ........................................................................................................................ 20
Related Business Processes............................................................................................................... 20
Process Details ................................................................................................................................. 21
Finance & Accounting .......................................................................................................................... 23
Related Business Processes............................................................................................................... 23
Sample Processes ............................................................................................................................. 24
Quality Assurance and Process Improvement ....................................................................................... 30
Related Business Processes............................................................................................................... 30
Sample Processes ............................................................................................................................. 31
Sales & Marketing ............................................................................................................................... 35
Related Business Processes............................................................................................................... 35
Process Details ................................................................................................................................. 36
Information Technology ....................................................................................................................... 45
Related Business Processes............................................................................................................... 45
Process Details ................................................................................................................................. 46
Customer Care ..................................................................................................................................... 51
Related Business Processes............................................................................................................... 51
Process Details ................................................................................................................................. 52
Operations .......................................................................................................................................... 55
Related Business Processes............................................................................................................... 55
Process Details ................................................................................................................................. 55
Manufacturing .................................................................................................................................... 59
Related Business Processes............................................................................................................... 59
Process Details ................................................................................................................................. 59
Product Development .......................................................................................................................... 61
Related Business Processes............................................................................................................... 61

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

Process Details ................................................................................................................................. 62


Best Practices in Describing Business Processes .................................................................................... 63
Describing Business Processes .......................................................................................................... 64
Activity Diagram ............................................................................................................................... 65
Binary Decision Diagram ................................................................................................................... 66
Block (Function) Diagram .................................................................................................................. 67
Causal Loop Diagram ........................................................................................................................ 68
Cause & Effect (Ishikawa) Diagram.................................................................................................... 69
Data Flow Diagram ........................................................................................................................... 70
Data Structure Diagram .................................................................................................................... 71
Decision Tables................................................................................................................................. 72
Decision Trees .................................................................................................................................. 73
Entity Relationship Diagram.............................................................................................................. 74
Flowcharts........................................................................................................................................ 75
Hierarchy Diagram............................................................................................................................ 76
Influence Diagram ............................................................................................................................ 77
Mind Map (Concept Map)................................................................................................................. 78
Onion Diagram ................................................................................................................................. 79
Process Flow Diagram....................................................................................................................... 80
Structograms (Nassi-Shneiderman) ................................................................................................... 81
State Diagram................................................................................................................................... 82
Swim Lane Diagram .......................................................................................................................... 83
System Context Diagram................................................................................................................... 84
Use Case Diagram ............................................................................................................................. 85
Warnier/Orr Diagram ....................................................................................................................... 86
Work Flow Diagram .......................................................................................................................... 87
About SmartDraw ................................................................................................................................ 88
Index of Business Process ..................................................................................................................... 89
Planning ........................................................................................................................................... 89
Human Resources............................................................................................................................. 89
Facility Management ........................................................................................................................ 89
Finance & Accounting ....................................................................................................................... 89
Quality Assurance & Process Improvement....................................................................................... 90
Sales & Marketing ............................................................................................................................ 90
Information Technology ................................................................................................................... 91
Customer Care ................................................................................................................................. 91
Operations ....................................................................................................................................... 91
Manufacturing.................................................................................................................................. 91
Product Development....................................................................................................................... 91

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

This white paper describes how you can use


flowcharts and other business graphics to describe
business processes, and thereby improve
effectiveness, gain competitive advantage and
increase shareholder value

What are business processes and why should I


describe them?
We all participate in business processes, often multiple times a day. Funny thing is most of us
don’t realize we are participating in a process, we think we are just doing our job. Well let’s look
at an example we all have experience with, shipping a package. You probably do something like
this:

1. Decide you need to ship something.


2. Find a suitable container to put your something in.
3. Look online at various carriers.
4. Select a carrier that has the service you want at the price you like.
5. Fill out the carrier’s online forms.
6. Print out the label.
7. Stick the label on the package.
8. Schedule a time for the package to be picked up.
9. Package gets picked-up courier.

Sound familiar? Maybe you just take stuff down to FedEx/Kinko’s and let them deal with it, or
maybe you hand things off to a shipping department who handles the rest. Those are processes
as well, and they lead to other processes for those people you’re handing things off too. We are
surrounded by processes.

But why describe business processes? Isn’t that just a lot of extra work?
If you are the only person involved, it is easy to follow your habits and never write anything down.
Add 3-4 employees and now any change to your normal process can cause real headaches. You
ask an employee to do something, and they do it “their way” and upset a customer, that you then
have to deal with. You will effectively double your work, and maybe lose a customer. What about
a change in processes? Processes change all the time, perhaps because of a change in the
business or other circumstances like the supplier you use going out of business. Let’s go back to
our example of shipping. You might need to ship a package overnight by 10:30 am, and there is
only one carrier with this service in your area. The process might then look like this:

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

1. Decide you need to ship something.


2. Find a suitable container to put your something in.
3. Contact the carrier.
4. Select the 10:30 am service.
5. Fill out the carrier’s online forms.
6. Print out the label.
7. Stick the label on the package.
8. Schedule a time for the package to be picked up.
9. Package gets picked-up courier.

When you contact the courier they tell you the cut off time has passed for that type of service.
Now what do you do? Call another courier, contact the recipient, or maybe ship it anyway with a
different service. In a situation like this, the need for documenting business processes becomes
apparent. If you had known the cut off time, you could have told the customer up front and found
an agreeable compromise. Having a back-up plan reduces the time needed to figure out a
solution as well. By thinking through various scenarios and documenting how they should be
handled you accomplish 5 main things:

1. Increase the understanding of how your business works.


2. Make training employees easier and faster.
3. Identify areas of your business that are not working well.
4. Give yourself the tool need to improve how you do business.
5. Increase consistency of how you do business.

This may all sound to abstract to you, or it may just sound like too much work. But documenting
processes has become vital to the survival and growth of your business. Today, companies are
reexamining their business processes in search of more efficient ways to run their business.
Some are looking to automation, or even outsourcing. The concept of business process
management (BPM) has become the norm in large companies and enterprises. BPM is nothing
more than the practice of continually optimizing business processes through analysis, modeling
and monitoring. It is a systematic approach for solving business problems and helping them meet
their financial goals.

"Companies are realizing that a good, solid understanding of their processes is essential to
achieving any of their performance objectives," says Roger Burlton, founder of consultancy
Process Renewal Group. "Most organizations, if they're not already doing something [with BPM],
are starting to get into it."

The Business Case to Describe Business Processes


The basic value of describing a business process is the ability change how you do business. The
end result is you can do more with less effort and produce higher quality products and services,
consistently. The business cases typically are made on the basis of the three core benefits:
efficiency, effectiveness, and agility.

• Efficiency. Make the most of what you have, and minimize waste.

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

• Effectiveness. Do business with minimal mistakes or problems.


• Agility. Ability to change quickly. Many companies will change their processes 4 or more
times per year; therefore, the ability to be agile is very important.

In the information and internet era, business innovation is the name of the game if you want to
stay ahead of your global competition. The internet allows potential customers to access 10 or 20
other business that do exactly what you do. But creating new customer experiences, inventing
new paths to agility and re-thinking the way you create value is no easy task. It requires you to
change and continually improve your processes. It requires a new attitude about technology and
culture. To be a market leader you must:

• Align. Keep every employee on the same page. Everyone needs to understand (not just
know about) the company goals and objectives.
• Innovate. Document what you are doing, and be creative about changing it. These are
the first steps to innovation.
• Build. Once an idea is generated, and it is aligned with the businesses goals, you have
to build it.

To do this you need to develop a company-wide habit of documenting every process, and sharing
it with other stakeholders so they can take action. This will also enable stakeholders to better
create their own process flows and rules, because they will better understand how other systems
and processes work throughout the company. Once you have established the company wide
practice of documenting processes, they can then be better understood first, and then
modified/optimized as appropriate second.
Before you can every think about optimizing a process, you need to establish a baseline.
Documenting your processes provides this critical necessary baseline and allows you to
understand the current state of your processes. When a business first begins documenting their
processes, they often find that some are broken, or incomplete, causing a loss of revenue.
Without documentation, a broken process would continue to occur unchecked.

Inconsistency kills a business. 80% of IT organizations have problems delivering consistent IT


services, primarily because of poor or non-existent process formalization (Gartner). When
employees are not aligned to the company goals, customer facing activities suffer because of
poor quality and inconsistent experiences. One very detailed way of documenting business
process is Six Sigma. With just a one-sigma shift, companies will experience a 20% margin
improvement, a 12% to 18% increase in capacity, a 12% reduction in the number of employees,
as well as a 10 to 30 percent capital reduction. (Six Sigma: The Breakthrough Management
Strategy, Mikkal Harry, Richard Schroeder). And, Gartner claims that by simply “making the
current-state handoffs, timing, and responsibilities explicit, productivity improvements of more
than 12% are normally realized. (Business Process Management’s Success Hinges on Business-
Led Initiatives, Gartner, 26 July 2005.)

Documenting business process just works. Gartner indicates that 78% of projects see an internal
rate of return (IRR) of greater than 15% when properly documenting from conception to
completion. The same report indicates that these projects were deployed quickly (67% in less
than six months, 50% in less than four months). So companies are realizing significant value with
rapid returns by driving process improvement. (Justifying BPM Projects, Gartner, 2004).

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

In summary, documenting your business processes:


• Provides better alignment and understanding across organizational functions.
• Helps identify inefficient processes, and opportunities for process improvement.
• Helps identify processes where no value is being added
• Brings better understanding of specific processes improves morale, as employees
understand where they fit in the process.
• Increases shareholder value
• Eases regulatory compliance (e.g., Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA).

Reasons to use Business Graphics to Describe your


Business Processes
By now you probably agree that documenting business process has a great deal of benefit. But
how do you go about documenting all the processes that occur every day, and in a manner that
anyone can understand. This is a tall order, even for multi-billion dollar enterprises. Enter
business graphics.

Put simply, a business graphic is an image used to communicate information about a process.
Business graphics have many benefits:

• Enables effective process modeling, which is a key component of process discovery.


Use business graphics to model existing business process that then serve as the basis
for future improvement initiatives.
• They can make the difference between success and failure, when needing to present
your case to regulators, management, colleagues and employees.

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

• Flowcharts, swim lane diagrams, and decision trees each have particular uses/purposes
that can help to describe information in a highly effective manner.
• They are of higher professional quality, therefore, more presentable and more effective at
clearly and correctly describing and communicating a process.
• With business graphics you can make changes quickly, and can respond to competitive
factors fast and efficiently. This is particularly relevant, for example, with quality
assurance where it’s important to be able to quickly document (and improve) processes.

Business Graphics and “IDOC”


So far we have discussed the importance of identifying the processes of your business and why
you should act upon them. We have also touched on the importance of sharing these documents
with other employees and making changes to the process when needed. These 4 steps are key
for improving a business or a process, whether it has 1 employee or 1,000 employees, 2 steps or
200. We call it IDOC:

• Identify – give a name to your process


• Diagram- Make a visual that easily and clear describes the process
• Optimize – Make changes to the process when you see a mistake, or a way to improve
• Communicate- Share this information with everyone in the company

Remember these 4 steps and you are well on your way improving the way you do business, and
making all employees more effective. The rest of this white paper will focus on who should take
responsibility for a process, and how they might go about documenting it.

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

What are the key business processes by major


functional area?
Each major functional area in an organization (Human Resources, Finance, Accounting,
Sales and so on) has at least one or more key business processes that are important to
a company’s success. It is crucial for organizations to document and understand these
processes in detail in order to maintain the highest level of effectiveness.
This section describes some of the key business processes associated with each of the
business functions listed below. For each function, the key business processes are
summarized along with the typical stakeholders and the typical type of diagram(s) used
to describe the business process.

Key Functional Areas


Planning
Human Resources
Facilities Management
Finance & Accounting
Quality Assurance and Process Improvement
Sales & Marketing
Information Technology
Customer Care
Operations
Manufacturing
Product Development and Research

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

Planning

• Most companies will develop, modify and implement strategic and operational
plans on an annual (or more frequent) basis.
• As part of this process, companies will develop and clarify mission and
positioning statements, identify key strategic initiatives (and related goals and
objectives), develop supporting tactics with associated milestones, and assign
responsibility to those individuals and teams accountable for achieving the
results.
• The planning process typically involves tactics such as brainstorming, creating
mind maps, defining project plans, and developing calendars.
• Describing the specific planning (and related) processes for your organization
is critical to ensuring all stakeholders and employees understand the process
and that they are committed to completing and executing on the process.

Planning-related Business Processes


• Planning Process
• Project Approval Process

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

Process Details
Planning Process
Description of the Business Process
• The planning business process describes the overall strategic and operational planning
process for your organization, including roles, responsibilities and approvals.
• An effective planning process is critical to the success for any business, and
documenting the process helps ensure organizational alignment and commitment to
executing the process.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Chief Financial Officer, Chief Executive Office, Chief Operating Officer, and/or head of
the planning committee
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Management and other individuals directly involved in the planning process
• All employees
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart

Project Approval Process


Description of the Business Process
• The Project Approval business process describes the process of identifying, prioritizing,
and approving projects (or key initiatives) that a company will commit to focusing on for
the year. The Project Approval process is often a subset of the overall planning
process.
• A Project Approval Process ensures all stakeholders understand the process of
approving projects, and documenting the process helps avoid confusion related to
project approvals.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Chief Operating Officer, and/or head of the planning committee
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Management and other individuals directly involved in the planning process
• Any employee who is directly or indirectly involved in one or more projects.
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

Human Resources

• With hundreds of constantly changing policies, human resource management is


a critical business component. This year in California alone there were 23 new
laws put into effect that require changes in an office environment.
• According to Hewitt Associates, nearly 50% of HR staff’s time is now spent on
administration, increasing staffing requirements.
• The HR cost of each employee has raised an average of 6% each of the last 5
years, with no signs of slowing down. Each rise in cost magnifies the
importance of efficiency in HR.
• Employees who clearly understand the vision of the company are more
productive. Clear documentation is an essential step in communicating the
company’s vision.

HR Related Business Processes


• Hiring
• Pre-Employment Testing
• Payroll and Compensation
• Annual Performance Review
• Holiday Scheduling
• Recruitment
• Event Planning
• Grievances
• Workplace conduct
• Training

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

Process descriptions
Hiring
Description of the Business Process
• One of the key steps for any company is the practice of adding new employees to fulfill
needs, or replacing employees that have left the company.
• The Hiring business process includes steps like employee screening, recruitment and
interviewing.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Human resources administrator, department head, manager
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• C-level and other top tier associates
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart

Pre-Employment Testing
Description of the Business Process
• Key to maximizing hiring efforts, pre-employment testing helps ensure the candidates
are compatible with your company’s culture and vision.
• The use of pre-employment testing also uncovers possible clashes of personality that
may occur, especially when hiring management.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Human Resources administrators.
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Consultants and testing service providers.
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Venn diagrams and matrixes.

Payroll
Description of the Business Process
• Filling taxes, completing paychecks, calculating personal time accrued and used, as well
as compensation adjustments are all part of the payroll business process.
• Using business graphics to document payroll will make it easier to train new and current
staff on accounting practices. It will also smooth the process of an audit and process
improvements.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Human resource administrators, payroll officer, accountants
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• CFO, Accounting service.
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart, Gantt Chart

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

Annual Performance Review


Description of the Business Process
• To simplify employee assessment, many companies have implemented programs for
annual performance reviews. These reviews include feedback on an employee’s
successes, areas needing improvement and establishing new objectives. These
reviews often also include salary adjustments.
• The documentation of the review process keeps employees informed on how they
have been assessed, what is expected of them, and reduces the time needed to
perform the review.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Employee’s superior, department head, office manager, human resource administrator.

Other Stakeholders of the Business Process


• C-level executives, VPs, and company presidents
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart

Holiday Scheduling
Description of the Business Process
• Giving employees holiday and personal time has become common practice for
employers.
• It is essential to document both how to request a personal day and the schedule of
when employee’s are out of the office. Conflicting or poorly communicated scheduling
will result in reduced productivity and improper staffing.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Human Resources, Department head
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Team members, and interdependent departments
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart, Gantt chart, Matrix

Recruitment
Description of the Business Process
• Recruitment is the process finding job candidates, and finding prospects that will add
needed expertise to the company.
• Recruiting can be costly and time consuming, wasting valuable company resources.
Documenting and optimizing this practice will maximize the return on investment.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Human resources
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Team leaders, Department heads
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

Event Planning
Description of the Business Process
• Companies increasingly understand the value of special events. Trade Shows,
banquets and company picnics all require planning and communication.
• Careful use of business graphics will ensure maximum ROI for any special event.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Human resources, event planner
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Event planning service
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart, Gantt chart, calendar

Grievances
Description of the Business Process
• Employee filed grievances are a fact of life for businesses. Providing a clear and
understandable process for dealing with a grievance will minimize negative effects.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Human Resources
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Department heads and team leaders.
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart

Workplace conduct
Description of the Business Process
• Workplace conduct is an often ignored business practice. Defining and communicating
a common workplace conduct will benefit a company’s bottom line.
• Workplace conduct can include safety, work schedule, and computer usage policies.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Human Resources, C-Level executives, and Department heads
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• IT and Finance
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

Training
Description of the Business Process
• Every objective set out in a company requires some form of training. Whether training
a new employee on the vision of the company, or implementing the last six sigma
initiative, business graphics get employees up to speed much faster than boring text
documents.
• A single page process Flowchart can convey as much information as 5 pages of plain
text.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Trainers, department heads, team leaders
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Human resources
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

Facilities Management

• Every day a variety of processes are executed to maintain and improve the
operations of a facility. Everything from lighting and temperature to the fire
escape plan is the responsibility of the facility management team.
• Energy is the largest single cost for any facility. Establishing clear energy
saving practices can have as much as a 20% reduction in operating cost
annually.
• Recent studies show that proper climate control and lighting can increase
productivity 6%-16%.

Related Business Processes


• Work Place Safety
• Maintenance Requests
• Energy Usage Control
• Space Allocation (Planning)
• Preventative Maintenance
• Environmental Control
• Cleaning
• Security

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
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Process Details
Work Place Safety
Description of the Business Process
• With OSHA and ANSI standards to comply to, keeping employees up to speed is a key
business issue. While there are government supplied documents, a well designed
Flowchart explains and provides quick reference to ensure compliance.
• A business graphic like a flowchart will increase productivity by reducing the amount of
time needed training.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Facility manager, office manager, shift supervisors
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Controller and human resources
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart

Maintenance Requests
Description of the Business Process
• Employees not involved in maintenance may not know how to word a request for
service. Missing information require additional communications between maintenance
workers and requestors.
• Creating and documenting a process for requesting maintenance will reduce the back
and forth communication time, and allow service people to respond quickly and
effectively to requests.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Facility Manager
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Service providers, repair staff
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart

Energy Usage Control


Description of the Business Process
• As energy costs have risen over the years, so has the importance of establishing good
best practices in energy usage
• Outlining the decision process of when to use energy conservation measures will lower
operating costs and reduce time needed for training.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Facility Manager, office manager
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Human resources and finance personnel
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart, Gantt chart

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

Space Planning
Description of the Business Process
• The proper use of space in an office building is key to productivity.
• Establishing common practices for the allocation of space helps personal understand
where they can find what they need. Training of new employees is also made more
efficient by the use of business graphics in space planning.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Office and Facility managers
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Human resources
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart

Preventative Maintenance
Description of the Business Process
• Preventative maintenance can save a company thousands of dollars. A key to the
success of a preventative initiative is proper decision making and ROI analysis.
• A simple cause and effect diagram can quickly and easily help any manager make the
right call on spending department funds.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Facility manager
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Office manager and human resources
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Cause & Effect diagram, flowcharts

Environmental Control
Description of the Business Process
• Temperature and air quality has a documented effect on the productivity of personal.
Keeping an office too hot or cold reduces the ability to concentrate and poor air quality
increases the chance of personal becoming ill.
• A business graphic like a matrix can communicate proper temperatures and acceptable
air quality data.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• HVAC operators and facility managers
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Office manager and human resources
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Matrix and Flowchart

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

Finance & Accounting

• Every year, at every company, goals are set and the task of allocating money to
achieve these goals falls on CFO’s and finance departments.
• Companies spend months perfecting their financial processes. The use of a
simple flowchart will ensure new hires (and those in need of a refresher) are up
to speed on the company’s objectives.
• Shareholders, investors and employees all need to be well informed about the
company’s financial status. Easily understandable charts and graphs are an
indispensible tool for delivering the information they need.
• Detailed flowcharts help clearly communicate the information locked away in
complex spreadsheets. This gives decision makers the power to successfully
plan for the coming year.

Related Business Processes


• Budget
• General Ledger
• Contracts
• Capital Expenditure & Asset Control
• Accounts Payable
• Accounts Receivable
• Collections and Recovery
• Financial Statements & Reports
• Auditing/Controls

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

• Treasury & Investments


• Inventory Management
• Regulatory Filling (SEC)
• Financial Decision Making
• Cost Accounting
• Payroll
• Records Management
• Invoicing

Sample Processes
Budget
Description of the Business Process
• Budgeting is a key business process effecting every department. While CFO’s and
accountants have powerful forecasting and analytical tools, they often lack a means of
communicating their data with company personnel.
• The use of Gantt charts to associate objectives with a budget is preferred, for its ability
to show the relationship clearly. Each department can be handed a Gantt chart with
the relevant information, keeping all personnel on target.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• CFO and Controller
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Office Manager, department heads and team leaders
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Gantt chart

General Ledger
Description of the Business Process
• In organizations where more than one person handles the general ledger, it is vital to
document the process of updating and checking the general ledger. Inconsistencies in
handling the ledger will cost a company in time and money, and can result in legal
activity if not corrected.
• Documenting each step in an easy to read, graphical manner will ensure every
employee working with the ledger makes all necessary steps.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Finance, CFO, Human resources
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• C-level executives
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

Contracts
Description of the Business Process
• Contracts involve countless negotiations, submissions and counter submissions.
When more than one person is involved with drafting the contract, documenting what
has been done, and decisions that have been made will ensure the contract covers all
areas desired.
• Cause and effect diagrams are also used to aid in deciding what should be written into
the contract.[changed font size to 10 point]
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• CFO
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Marketing, IT, Human resources
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart, cause and effect diagram

Capital Expenditure and Asset Control


Description of the Business Process
• CFO’s have highly specialized tools for monitoring and adjusting capital expenditure,
but often have difficulty communicating this information to personnel.
• Business graphics such as a Flowchart, Gantt chart, and matrixes ease the distribution
of important spending data. Flowcharts are also key in explaining the important
question of “where did the money go.”
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• CFO, Controller
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Marketing, IT, Office Managers, and Business development
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart, Gantt chart, Matrix

Accounts Payable
Description of the Business Process
• Accounts payable involves several business processes such as reconciliation, expense
administration, and internal controls. Accounts payable is highly susceptible to abuse
such as embezzlement.
• Complete documentation of accounts payable processes will aid in the elimination of
abuse, by creating a Flowchart explain all steps taken during paying vendors, auditing
the process is a fast and effective procedure.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Accounting
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Human Resources
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

Accounts Receivable
Description of the Business Process
• The process of billing customers that owe business money is normally handled by a
different individual than accounts payable. Requesting payment on a service rendered
or product delivered should be considered part of the customer care experience.
• Creating a business graphic for accounts receivable will increase the efficiency of this
process by visually showing where you can save time.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Accounts Receivable, Accounting
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• CFO
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart

Collection and Recovery


Description of the Business Process
• Related to accounts receivable, sometimes invoices are left unpaid beyond the agreed
time. This account is then in default and is transferred to personal specializing in
collections.
• This is an important transition for any business. Careful documentation is important to
ensure the handling of these accounts occurs properly. It is important to convey the
importance of settling debts in a timely manner, and transferring the customer back into
a good standing status.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Collections, Accounting
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• CFO
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart

Financial Statements & Reports


Description of the Business Process
• Complex spreadsheets and tables are no longer acceptable as reports. Busy
executives need easily readable documents that still deliver the information they need.
• Business graphics like a flowchart can show the flow of money, while Gantt charts can
show growth and relationships between categories.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• CFO, Accountants
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Marketing
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart, Gantt chart

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

Auditing/Controls
Description of the Business Process
• The review of internal processes is rarely seen as a function needing process
improvement. However, documenting the steps in an audit will both increase the
accuracy of the audit as well as reduce the time needed to perform the audit.
• Auditing should be documented as a series of steps in a Flowchart, allowing anyone to
easily understand what is involved in the audit.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• CFO, External Auditing Service
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• C-Level executives
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart

Treasury & Investments


Description of the Business Process
• The process of managing a company’s treasury is crucial. Without properly
communicating the status of the treasury, it becomes far too easy for moving into the
red.
• A Flowchart can be used to document the process of requesting funds, checking the
status of the treasury.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Treasurer, CFO
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Accounting and human resources
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart

Inventory Management
Description of the Business Process
• Inventory is the process of counting and documenting the assets and commodities a
company has on hand. Accuracy is paramount when performing an inventory.
• Improperly performed inventories can result in out of stocks, delivery delays, and poor
customer care. Producing a clearly defined process using a Flowchart and matrix will
help ensure accurate counts and dissemination of inventory information.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Shipping manager, Office manager
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• CFO, Facility manager
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart, matrix,

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

Regulatory Filling (SEC)


Description of the Business Process
• Public companies are required by the securities exchange commission to file financial
reports.
• These fillings require input from each department, and can be very time consuming.
To reduce the time needed to collect data, and improve the accuracy of that data.
• Scheduling the deadlines for fillings through the use of a Gantt charts prevents
penalties in late filling, as well as keeping CFOs on track while they prepare them.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• CFO
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Department Managers
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart

Financial Decision Making


Description of the Business Process
• The process of making decisions based on company values and business objectives.
Financial decision making is directly tied to budgeting.
• The rationale for making good, sound financial decision needs to be communicated to
every employee. Using business graphics like decision flow diagrams show
employees how to make sound decisions.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• CFO
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Department heads
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Cause & Effect, decision flow diagram

Cost Accounting
Description of the Business Process
• Cost accounting follows the guidelines set out in GAAP. It involves the tracking,
recording and analyzing the cost of operating a business.
• Poor cost accounting practices will cost a business thousands by making poor use of
available data, or not producing the data needed to make sound financial decisions.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• CFO, Accounting
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Office Manager, Marketing and IT
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

Payroll
Description of the Business Process
• Payroll is the process of producing paychecks for employees which include tax
deductions, bonuses, and regular wages.
• With the high cost of mistakes during an audit, documenting the payroll process will
both improve the efficiency of the process and reduce the number of mistakes.
Training of new finance personal is made smoother by clear documentation of
company practices.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Accounting
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Human Resources
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart

Records Management
Description of the Business Process
• In the age of information, records management has become an increasingly important
business process. Archiving, storing, and retrieving company and employee records
fall under the umbrella of records management.
• Documenting the process of records management is the first step in improving on the
process. The more efficiently a company is able to archive, store and retrieve, the
more efficiently the personal depending on the records can function.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Office Manager, Controller
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Human resources, IT
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart, matrix

Invoicing
Description of the Business Process
• Invoicing is the process of sending out invoices to customers who have purchases or
intend to purchase goods or services from a business.
• Poor invoicing processes will leave a company unpaid for goods delivered or a service
rendered. By effectively invoicing, businesses will get paid sooner, reducing the need
for a collections action.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Accounts Receivable
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Accounting, CFO
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

Quality Assurance and Process Improvement

• Quality assurance is a key step in any productive business. It is estimated that


companies could save up to $2 million annually by improving their QA
processes
• Small and Medium businesses face special challenges when trying to
implement Six Sigma and ISO standards for their processes.
• A recent study from the national institute of standards and technology estimate
that poor software testing costs the US economy $22.2 billion annually.
• Without proper documentation, consistent and proper product testing is
impossible.

Related Business Processes


• PDCA/DMAIC
• Failure Testing
• TQC/TQM
• Six Sigma
• Customer Survey
• Standard Operating Procedures
• Work Flow
• Data Validation and verification
• Project Plan
• Peer Review

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
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Sample Processes
PDCA/DMAIC
Description of the Business Process
• PDCA and DMAIC are the fundamental cycles in quality control. PDCA stands for
Plan, Do, Check, Act, and in Six Sigma this cycle is known as DMAIC; Define,
Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control.
• Documenting your QA process feels automatic, but documenting your QA process in
such a way that anyone in your company can understand and utilize the process
requires special tools. A business graphic like a Flowchart is perfect for documenting
the PDCA and DMAIC processes.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• QA
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Department heads
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process flow diagram

Failure Testing
Description of the Business Process
• The testing of a product to establish points of failure.
• A crucial step in any quality assurance cycle, improper failure testing can cost a
company hundreds of thousands if a product fails in the hands of consumer. Lengthy
lawsuits ending in settlements both cost the company monetarily and can ruin their
reputation with consumers.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• QA
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Tech Support
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process flow diagram

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

TQC\TQM
Description of the Business Process
• TQM (total quality management) is an operational value that an entire company
adheres to. It is defined by having a central business value of quality, and making
decisions based on the desire for quality.
• While a company-wide commitment may require spending up front, the payoff over
time will be increased productivity, brand awareness, reduced waste, and the ability to
charge more for a high quality product.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• QA
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Department heads
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process flow diagram, work flow diagram

Six Sigma
Description of the Business Process
• One of the most respected business process improvement methodologies, Six Sigma
is based on 2 cycles, DMAIC and DMADV
• Six Sigma aims to reduce defects, and to maximize the efficiency of a process.
Recently it has also been applied to product design.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• QA, Department heads
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Managers
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Work flow diagram, process flow diagram, entity relationship diagrams

Customer Survey
Description of the Business Process
• Contacting customers with questions about their satisfaction with a product and
requesting any information about problems or issues is customer surveying.
• Even the very best QA teams cannot test every possible aspect of a product or service.
Surveying just 5 customers will uncover issues and design flaws that can then be
improved upon. Surveying customers also provides valuable feedback on a
customer’s experience.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• QA, Product development
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Department heads
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Cause and effect diagram, Matrix

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)


Description of the Business Process
• Standard operating procedures are a set of processes and instructions that define the
way an activity is carried out. To put it a different way, they are the way to get
something done.
• Often, a single person will become the expert in a business process for a company. If
this person is not available, that process will likely not be completed, or completed in an
insufficient manner. Having that person document how they perform the process will
allow anyone, in their absence, to perform the process to the same standard.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Department heads
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• C-Level executives
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process flow diagram

Workflow
Description of the Business Process
• Workflow is the structure of business processes, and who performs them.
• Without documentation of workflow, processes can be skipped, and a company
becomes very reliable on the expertise of individuals. Posting a workflow graphic
increases the efficiency by spreading the expertise of one employee to many or all
employees in a company.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Managers
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• QA
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Work flow diagram

Data Validation & Verification


Description of the Business Process
• Modern businesses produce a huge amount of internal data, from QA to web analytics,
to financial reports. Testing this data for accuracy and trustworthiness is data validation.
• Making business decisions based on bad data is a costly practice. The more accurate a
business’s data is, the better equipped they are to make sound decisions. Sound
business decisions help the bottom line of any company.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• QA, IT
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Marketing, Accounting, Product Development
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Entity relationship diagrams, Matrix

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
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Project Plan
Description of the Business Process
• Administering tasks, tracking activities and establishing milestones is all part of project
planning.
• The modern business climate is one that requires constant collaboration between
departments to meet business objectives. Proper documentation of a project plan is key
to efficiently keeping employees in on track with an initiative that involve several
departments.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Managers
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Department heads
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Gantt chart

Peer Review
Description of the Business Process
• Allowing experts not involved in an activity to review the activity is the process of peer
review.
• It is impossible for those directly involved in an activity to catch every mistake. Allowing
for peer review is the most cost effective way to ensure high quality work, and adds the
perceived value peer reviewing offers.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Activity Owner
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• QA
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• SWOT diagram

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
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Sales & Marketing

• It is widely accepted that marketing is the largest expenditure for a business.


USA companies spent an estimated $615 billion in 2006, according to the
Blackfriars consulting group.
• Shareholders and Executives need justification for allocating marketing dollars.
• Converting customers into evangelist is the holy grail for any marketing
department.

Related Business Processes


• Defining KPIs
• Keyword Selection
• Marketing Strategy Design
• Prioritizing Initiatives
• Campaign Management
• Customer Relationship Management
• Closing a Sale
• Lead management
• SWOT analysis
• Direct Marketing
• Print Advertising
• Product Pricing
• Target Market Analysis and Sizing
• Competitive Analysis
• Public Relations and Marketing Communications
• Search Engine Optimization

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
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• Pay-Per-Click
• Mission Statement and Positioning Statement
• Marketing Objectives and Tactics
• Brand Value
• Marketing and Sales Collateral
• Conference and Tradeshow Selection Process

Process Details
Defining KPI
Description of the Business Process
• Key performance indicators (KPI) are the metrics a company establishes and track to
show the success of an initiative. Example KPIs are conversion rate, customer
acquisitions, and open rates.
• Without well defined KPI, a business has a difficult time establishing success.
Thousands of dollars are wasted on ineffective processes when no baseline of KPI is
defined.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Department Heads, Team leaders
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• C-Level Executives
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Decision Tables, Matrix

Keyword Selection
Description of the Business Process
• The first step in paid search advertising is the selection of words to bid on.
• With the average click cost raising above $2 a click, picking keywords that will not
convert can cost a company thousands of dollars a month. Conversely, by optimizing
the keyword selection process a company can maximize ROI and be more agile to
changes in a market segment.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Marketing
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Finance
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Decision trees, decision flow diagram

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
Gain Competitive Advantage by Describing your Business Processes

Marketing Strategy Design


Description of the Business Process
• Marketing strategy are the fundamental ideas that drive a marketing plan.
• When resources are limited, or time is short, having well defined marketing strategies
allows a business to focus on increasing revenue.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Marketing
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• C-level executives
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process flow diagram

Prioritizing Initiatives
Description of the Business Process
• Initiatives, or a series of actions a company wants to carry out, are assigned a factor of
importance. This factor is used to determine how resources will be allocated amongst
initiatives.
• Company resources seem to always be limited. Committing large amounts of money or
time to an initiative that is low priority or high risk is a costly mistake. With proper
documentation, a company can communicate its priorities to all personnel.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Marketing
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• C-Level executives
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Hierarchy Diagram, Decision Tree

Campaign Management
Description of the Business Process
• Campaigns are one piece of an integrated marketing communication. Campaigns can
be a series or combination of ads, emails, white papers, and blog postings with a
common message.
• Poor campaign management reduces the effectiveness of marketing efforts, and wastes
the budget defined in a marketing plan. Creating a single document with the steps to
creating a campaign, the KPI, and the theme of the campaign will align all personnel
involved with the goal of the campaign.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Marketing
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• External Advertising agency
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process flow diagram, Decision Tree

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
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Customer Relationship Management


Description of the Business Process
• Capturing, storing, analyzing and retrieving customer information make up the process
of customer relationship management.
• A CRM system will benefit all customer facing activities by creating a history of
interaction with a customer that can be accessed on demand. Because the customer
does not have to repeat their history to each employee they correspond with, the time
needed to resolve issues is reduced.
• Because customers facing personal are more informed, they can handle more customer
interactions each day, while still providing a high quality experience.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• IT
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Sales, Marketing, Customer Support
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process flow diagram

Closing a Sale
Description of the Business Process
• Closing a sale is moving a lead from prospect to customer by completing a transaction
where they purchase the company’s product or service.
• Seems obvious, but a company must close a sale to collect money for its products. The
more effectively a company can close a sale, the better ROI for its marketing efforts.
Documenting and improving this process is much easier with a business graphics like a
process Flowchart.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Sales, Business Development
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Marketing, Customer Support
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process flow diagram

Lead Management
Description of the Business Process
• A lead can be defined by a name, email, phone number, or address that can be used to
close a sale. Leads can be purchased or collected by a company.
• Leads are so valuable to a company, mishandling them will incur major costs.
Documenting the steps of lead management (generation, grading, distribution, retention,
nurturing) keeps a sales team on point and aligned with company goals.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Business Development
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Marketing
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process

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• Process flow diagram

SWOT Analysis
Description of the Business Process
• A tool for analyzing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in business
initiatives.
• SWOT analysis is a simple diagram that allows decision makers to visualize important
data before moving forward with an initiative.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Marketing, Business Development
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Product Development
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• SWOT Diagram

Direct Marketing
Description of the Business Process
• Marketing efforts that involve contacting a customer or lead directly with targeted
marketing materials.
• Because direct marketing requires contacting customers, customizing the experience for
them is key. The more personalized marketing is, the more loyal a customer will
become, ultimately becoming an evangelist for the company.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Marketing
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Business Development, Sales
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process flow diagram

Print Advertising
Description of the Business Process
• Print Advertising is any ad printed in a magazine, book, newspaper or journal.
• Because of the nature of print ads, making informed decisions on ad placement is
essential to getting any ROI. Establishing a set of guidelines to help marketers to
decide what publications ads should be placed in.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Marketing
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Business Development
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Decision tree

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
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Product Pricing
Description of the Business Process
• Researching and establishing the price point for a product. Involves market research,
analysis of competing products and demand forecasting.
• Improper pricing will do 2 things; price product out of market and/or reduce the
perceived value of a product. By creating a series of business graphics a company can
ensure market research, company objectives, and competitive analyses are in
alignment.
• This same series of graphics can also be used to keep personnel informed.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Product Development, Business Development
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Marketing
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process flow diagram, Venn Diagram

Target Market Analysis and Sizing


Description of the Business Process
• The process for sizing markets, analyzing market penetration, and selecting target
markets.
• If the proposed market does not have sufficient size to make a profit, it should not be
entered. The only way for a business to establish the market size is through careful
research and analysis. Good documentation is important for the dissemination of
information to personnel involved in marketing and product development.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Business Development
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Marketing, Product Development
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process flow diagram

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Competitive Analysis
Description of the Business Process
• Analyzing any products or services that occupy the target market for feature
comparisons, strengths, and deficiencies.
• Correctly defining the competition for a product or service allows marketing to better
position it, product development to better differentiate, and sales to better sell to the
market.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Business Development
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Marketing, Product development, Sales
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• SWOT, Cause & Effect, Matrix

Public Relations and Marketing Communications


Description of the Business Process
• Processes for developing/approving a case study, for writing and issuing a press
release, for pitching an article, obtaining a review, etc.
• Marketing often goes unchecked, to control spending of marketing dollar proper
documentation of the process of choosing reviewers and disseminating company
information on the wire.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• PR, Marketing
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Business Development
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process flow diagram

Search Engine Optimization


Description of the Business Process
• Process for optimizing organic search effectiveness through the collection of reciprocal
links, good quality content, and timely updating.
• Search engine optimization is a company wide effort, from copy writers to IT.
Establishing a common document with the processes of good SEO will help personnel
not trained in SEO align with the company objective. Organic search listings are viewed
as more relevant than paid search listing, and can be used to increase the ROI on paid
search campaigns.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Copywriters, Marketing, IT
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Department Heads
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process flow diagram

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
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Pay-Per-Click
Description of the Business Process
• Process for bidding on key terms, for maximizing profitability and visibility on search
engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN.
• While organic search is largely uncontrollable, paid search can be optimized
consistently. Because paid search offers such a high level of control it is important to
document the entire paid search process. Not documenting, and optimizing, the
process a company will over spend on keywords, and not place ads that have a proper
call to action.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Marketing
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Finance
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process Flow Diagram, Decision Tree

Mission Statement & Positioning Statement


Description of the Business Process
• Process for creating a mission statement and positioning statement for a business.
• Establishing a company mission statement is key to aligning all employees to a common
vision. Employees that understand a company’s objectives are 16% more productive on
average.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• C-Level executives
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Department heads
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Decision Flow Diagram, Decision Tree

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
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Marketing Objectives and Tactics


Description of the Business Process
• Process for identifying and prioritizing marketing objectives and tactics.
• By documenting the process of defining a marketing objective, a company can more
easily justify its marketing practices, and establish areas for improvement. The more
well defined a marketing objective is, the more smoothly the objective can be executed.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Marketing
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Department heads
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process Flow Diagram

Brand Values
Description of the Business Process
• The process for determining and documenting brand values for a company.
• Customers and employees feel more connected to a company when they understand
the company’s values. Customers who agree with your company or brands values will
be far more loyal, and more likely to evangelize about the company to others.
• Google and Apple Inc. are example companies that have succeeded in establishing a
strong brand value.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Marketing
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• C-Level executives
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Decision Tree, Process Flow Diagram

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Marketing & Sales Collateral


Description of the Business Process
• The process for creating and developing sales collateral.
• Deciding what type of collateral a company wants to give out, it is important to align all
content with company values and marketing objectives. By documenting the process of
developing collateral, all personnel can do regular checks to ensure they are on point.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Marketing, Sales
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Art Department
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process flow diagram

Conference & Trade Show Selection


Description of the Business Process
• The process for selecting and attending tradeshows/conferences.
• Trade shows and conferences can very beneficial for a company. It is an opportunity to
meet many prospects quickly. With thousands of tradeshows each year, selecting the
right trade show can be difficult.
• A decision tree will help streamline the process of selecting the events that will prove
maximum ROI and exposure.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Business development
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Marketing, Sales
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process Flow Diagram, Decision Tree

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Information Technology

• The volume of information available in a business environment has continued to


grow at an incredible rate.
• As the volume of information grows, the need for well defined IT
• It is estimated by In-Stat/MDR that enterprises in the US will spend nearly $256
billion on IT related products.
• Poor Communication between mainstream employees and IT causes both
financial and time costs

Related Business Processes


• Deployment of New Software
• Client System Upgrades
• Request Management
• Sever Back up
• Server Maintenance
• Solution Implementation
• System Design
• Employee Training
• Project Evaluation
• Disaster Recovery Procedures
• Reporting

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Process Details
Deployment of New Software
Description of the Business Process
• The process of making software available for use in a network environment.
• In complex corporate network environments, following recommended procedures before
and during deployment of software reduces downtime and system malfunctions.
• A network administrator can spend an entire day just bringing employees back online
after a system change. Documenting and communicating with all staff will minimize
downtime.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• IT
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Department heads
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process flow diagram

Client System Upgrades


Description of the Business Process
• Changing the hardware or software of an individual computer.
• A poorly performing system will slow productivity, but unnecessary upgrading can cause
system instability.
• Establishing a process for upgrading a client system will ensure near 100% uptime, and
improve productivity for the employee.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• IT
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• System User
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Decision flow diagram

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Request Management
Description of the Business Process
• The process of collecting, organizing, prioritizing and assigning IT service requests.
• Without an efficient request management process, a companies IT department will be
buried under low priority request.
• By documenting and communicating to all personnel the process of placing a request,
and establishing a decision matrix to prioritize what requests are handled first, an IT
department can operate at maximum efficiency.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• IT
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Human Resources
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process flow diagram, Decision tables

Server Back-up
Description of the Business Process
• The copying and archiving of information produced by a server.
• Backing up a server often requires downtime or reduced performance of the server,
creating the need for proper timing and support before a back up is started.
• Producing a document outlining the steps involved in a back-up will educated all
personnel on when a server will not be available, and why it will not be available,
reducing complications of improperly saved data.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• IT
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Department heads
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Work Flow Diagram

Server Maintenance
Description of the Business Process
• The process of taking a server off-line to apply software patches or hardware changes.
• Because most employees depend heavily on servers, especially exchange and file
servers, it is important to properly inform all employees of when maintenance will occur,
and what to expect to expect during that time.
• A process flow diagram including dates and times will effectively keep all employees
aware of IT activities.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• IT
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Human Resources
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process Flow Diagram

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Solution Implementation
Description of the Business Process
• The deployment, integration and training for employees of a new software package.
• Documenting the process of new solution implementation using best practices like
ITIL® will reduce redundancy and speed the entire process.
• Documenting the implementation process will also ease proving compliance with
SARBOX and PCI when needed.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• IT
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Client System User
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process Flow Diagram

System Design
Description of the Business Process
• Once the decision to create a new custom system has been made, the process of
architecture and specification takes place.
• Documenting the process of system design is beneficial for later communicating why a
system was designed the way it was. It can also speed future designs tasks by
providing a common groundwork a company can use.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• IT
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• System Requestor
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process Flow Diagram, Decision Tree

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Employee Training
Description of the Business Process
• The process of teaching employees about new or updated software as well as
requested functionality.
• Documenting the process of training will ensure each employee trained receives the
proper skills, and reduces the need for retraining and ongoing support.
• Once the documentation has been optimized and proven effective, IT can then
leverage the documentation as a training tool, instead of valuable man hours.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• IT
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Support
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process Flow Diagram, Data Structure Diagram

Project Evaluation
Description of the Business Process
• The defining and prioritizing of a project to determine what resources should be
committed to it.
• Documenting the project evaluation process allows non-IT personnel to understand
how IT resources are allocated. As the process is improved, the type of request
becomes easier to evaluate, and the evaluation occurs faster.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• IT
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Department Heads
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process Flow Diagram

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Disaster Recovery
Description of the Business Process
• The process of bringing systems back online and recovering data after a disaster.
• When a disaster occurs, a company is already reeling. Having a well documented
process for getting back online will reduce loss of revenue due to downtime, and stress
on a company’s infrastructure.
• The disaster recovery process should include information such as where data is
backed-up, how power can be delivered, and how to bring a system back online.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• IT
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Facilities Management
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process flow, work flow diagram

Reporting
Description of the Business Process
• The process of producing requested data for employees.
• Good documentation of the how IT reports data allows personnel requesting a report to
include all relevant details with the request. This ensures delivery of accurate reports,
and reduces the need to rerun a report.
• Productivity is increased by reducing the time needed to produce a single report.
Systems can be designed to provide common reports automatically, further reducing
man hours needed.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• IT
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Human Resources
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process Flow Diagram

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Customer Care

• Customer facing activities are one of the most challenging and constantly
changing areas in business.
• Accurate documentation through the use of Flowcharts, cause and effect
diagrams and Gantt charts is crucial for consistent success with customer care.
• In this web 2.0 era, a single poorly handled customer could post a negative
comment on a blog read by 40,000 people a day. Conversely, properly
handling that customer could generate 40,000 new prospects for your
company.
• Accurate descriptions of customer care processes are fundamental in training
all customer facing staff, and maintain a consistent customer experience.

Related Business Processes


• Tech Support
• Customer Training
• Customer Relationship Management
• Incoming Call Routing
• Incoming Email Handling
• Conflict Resolution
• Product Repair

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Process Details
Tech Support
Description of the Business Process
• Resolving problems customers are having with a product or service offered by a
company.
• Documenting how to resolve a problem presented by a customer will ensure
consistent, high quality service.
• When common problems surface, support can then feed both the problem, and the
document resolution to development, speeding the integration of fixes.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Tech Support Agents
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Customer Service Representatives, Human Resources
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process Flow Diagrams

Customer Training
Description of the Business Process
• Teaching a customer how to use a product or service.
• Training without documents will take 4-5 times as long as training a customer with the
aid of clear, easily understandable documentation.
• A single business graphic showing how to use a company’s product is as effective as
10 pages of text while taking less time to read.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Tech Support, Customer Service
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Marketing
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process Flow Diagram

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Customer Relationship Management


Description of the Business Process
• Capturing, storing, analyzing and retrieving customer information make up the process
of customer relationship management.
• A CRM system will benefit all customer facing activities by creating a history of
interaction with a customer that can be accessed on demand. Because the customer
does not have to repeat their history to each employee they correspond with, the time
needed to resolve issues is reduced.
• Because customer facing personal are more informed, they can handle more customer
interactions each day, while still providing a high quality experience.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• IT
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Sales, Marketing, Customer Support
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process flow diagram

Incoming Call Routing


Description of the Business Process
• When a customer calls a company, the transferring of their call from a main phone line to the
person best equipped to help them.
• The commonly used PBX systems are often very complicated in how incoming calls are routed.
By visually documenting the various routes a customer can be put on, IT and customer support
are able to improve the call routing.
• In company’s where a PBX style system is not in place, documenting how incoming calls are
handled will allow smooth transfers, and proper escalation of a call, minimizing a customer’s
time spend on hold.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• IT, Operators
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Customer Service, Tech support
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Work Flow Diagram

Incoming Email Handling


Description of the Business Process
• The process of delivering email to the intended recipient, and filtering SPAM.
• When email is not delivered properly, or an excess of SPAM is being delivered, having a well
documented delivery process will make tracking the breakdown much faster.
• Documenting how email is handled will also allow a company to maximize the efficiency of its
Exchange server.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• IT
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• All customer facing personnel
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process Flow Diagram, Decision Tree

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Conflict Resolution
Description of the Business Process
• Resolving problems when normal customer service or tech support breaks down and escalates
to a conflict.
• When conflicts occur it becomes paramount to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
• When a company has clearly documented the actions to take when a conflict arises, the time
needed to find a resolution is reduced because the next step is already defined for the
employee.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Customer Service, Tech Support
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Human Resources
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process Flow Diagram

Product Repair
Description of the Business Process
• Applying repairs or replacing a product which is not functioning properly.
• Making timely and effective repairs to products that are malfunctioning is paramount for any
company. When repairs are not done improperly, or take much too long, the company will
develop a reputation of poor quality.
• Clear documentation of product repairs will ensure a quick turn around and proper repair,
keeping customers satisfied.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Tech Support
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Manufacturing
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process Flow Diagram

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Operations

• In a 2004 study done by the Georgia Institute of technology, they found an


announcement of supply chain disruption would cause an average decrease in
operating income of 107%.
• The study also found that it could take as much as 2 years for a company to
recover from a supply chain disruption.
• Announcement of a shipping delay or production issue can cause a 9% drop in
stock price. Over a 6 month period the drop in stock price can amount to 20%.
• Proper planning and documentation through the use of Flowcharts and work
flow diagrams will aid in preventing supply chain, production, and shipping
issues.

Related Business Processes


• Shipping
• Inventory
• Supply Chain Management
• Purchasing\Procurement
• Staffing
• Safety
• Production

Process Details
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Shipping
Description of the Business Process
• The process of moving goods from supplier to consumer.
• Documenting the process of shipping helps a company uncover inefficiencies in the process,
and moved forward with streamlining.
• A fast, effective shipping procedure will keep customers satisfied, and reduce service calls
regarding shipping.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Shipping
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Manufacturing
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process Flow Diagram

Inventory
Description of the Business Process
• Inventory is the process of counting and documenting the assets and commodities a company
has on hand. Accuracy is paramount when performing an inventory.
• Improperly performed inventories can result in out of stocks, delivery delays, and poor customer
care. Producing a clearly defined process using a Flowchart and matrix will help ensure
accurate counts and dissemination of inventory information.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Shipping manager, Office manager
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• CFO, Facility manager
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Flowchart, matrix

Supply Chain Management


Description of the Business Process
• Coordinating, Monitoring and improving all aspects of moving a product or service from supplier
to consumer. This includes activities from manufacturing to delivery.
• Because supply chain management involves many teams, and many processes, the lack of
documenting each properly can cause serious delays in delivery.
• Using process and work flow diagrams, each process in the supply chain can be visualized and
improved, reducing overhead and reducing the time between production and customer delivery.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Manufacturing, Shipping
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• IT
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process Flow Diagram, Work Flow Diagram

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Purchasing and Procurement


Description of the Business Process
• A company acquiring the materials needed to carry out day to day operations and
manufacturing.
• One way a company can reduce operating costs is to optimize how it purchases items.
• By accurately documenting and sharing with all personnel the purchasing process a company
can reduce accidently repeat purchases, choose the best vendor to purchase from, and reduce
the number of man hours needed for inventory.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Office Manager
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Department heads, Accounting
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process Flow Diagram

Staffing
Description of the Business Process
• The scheduling of employees and hiring additional employees to ensure a business operates
efficiently.
• When a company is improperly staffed, productivity is lost. On average companies experience a
drop of 8% in productivity for every understaffed day of operation.
• To prevent any loss of revenue or productivity, companies should document and share
employee schedules with a Gantt chart.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Operations
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Human Resources
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Gantt chart

Safety
Description of the Business Process
• All process involved in keeping a company compliant with federal and state regulations.
• Not following government safety standards will cause fines and restrictions to be applied by
regulators.
• Proper documentation of all company safety practices is the first step for any company to ensure
compliance. Compliance also maximizes the safety of a workplace, minimizing the occurrence
of accidents.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Operations
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Human Resources
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process flow diagram

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Production
Description of the Business Process
• The process of creating the product or service that has been defined by a company.
• Not documenting the processes involved in producing a product will lead to inefficient practices,
higher waste, poor quality and loss of potential revenue.
• A series of Flowcharts depicting each step during production allows for review and improvement
of each process, greatly reducing waste and potential increasing revenue.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Production Manager
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Manufacturing
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process flow diagram

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Manufacturing

• Logistics in manufacturing represents nearly a trillion dollars each year for


American businesses.
• One electronics manufacturer that applied lean and six sigma realized a 70%
reduction in the time needed from order to delivery of finished goods.
• In the biotech and pharmaceutical industries, the application of six sigma and
lean process improvements have reduced the cost of unplanned events by 90%
on average.

Related Business Processes


• Lean
• Six Sigma
• Quality Assurance
• Assembly

Process Details
Lean
Description of the Business Process
• A style of management that places high priority on reducing waste. The 7 areas of waste Lean
focuses on are: Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Waiting time, over production, processing,
defective products
• Lean requires extensive documentation, making it easier to discover the activities producing
waste. Using business graphics like process flow diagrams further eases this process.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Operations Manager, Manufacturing
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process

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• Department Heads
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process Flow Diagram, Work Flow Diagram

Six Sigma
Description of the Business Process
• A popular method of improving processes to reduce defects in products and services.
• Using business graphics like work flow and a process flow diagram in conjunction with Six
Sigma methodologies maximizes the ROI for a company improving their processes.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• QA
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Department heads
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process Flow Diagram

Quality Assurance
Description of the Business Process
• The process of establishing a baseline for quality and testing that all products meet this baseline.
• In the software industry, poor QA practices cost companies $22 billion annually.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• QA
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Manufacturing
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process Flow Diagram

Production
Description of the Business Process
• The process of creating the product or service that has been defined by a company.
• Not documenting the processes involved in producing a product will lead to inefficient practices,
higher waste, poor quality and loss of potential revenue.
• A series of Flowcharts depicting each step during production allows for review and improvement
of each process, greatly reducing waste and potential increasing revenue.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Production Manager
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Manufacturing
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process Flow Diagram

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Product Development

• The first stages of product development are often referred to as the “fuzzy front
end”.
• These beginning stages can use as much as 50% of the time allocated for
development, often causing delays such as those experienced by Microsoft and
the release of its latest OS Vista®
• Announcement of a shipping delay or production issue can cause a 9% drop in
stock price. Over a 6 month period the drop in stock price can amount to 20%.

Related Business Processes


• Market Research
• Competitive Analysis
• Development

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Process Details
Market Research
Description of the Business Process
• Defining the market a product will be sold to, including establishing number of prospective
customers, projected revenue, and market saturation.
• Documenting and optimizing the processes will reduce the amount of time needed to do
research.
• Over time a company will develop a well defined process for market research and a library of
data that can be used to further reduce the time and personnel needed to define a new market
opportunity.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Business Development
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Marketing, Product Development
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process Flow Diagram

Competitive Analysis
Description of the Business Process
• Identifying and analyzing competitors for a company’s products or services.
• Improper competitive analysis can result in commercial failure or lawsuits.
• Establishing and documenting a process for analyzing competitors gives better information to
marketers and developers, enabling them to better target a product or service. The more
targeted, the more likely it will be a success.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Business Development
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Product Development, Marketing
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process Flow Diagram

Development
Description of the Business Process
• If planning is 50% of the product cycle, Development is the other 50%. Development is
changing a perceived need into a solution.
• Documenting the process of development is crucial. By documenting each step and all activities
that follow, such QA and manufacturing are better able to occur efficiently.
• Future improvements to the process can also be made once an initial process has been
documented.
Typical Owner(s) of the Business Process
• Developers
Other Stakeholders of the Business Process
• Marketing
Type of Business Graphic Typically Used to Describe the Business Process
• Process Flow Diagram

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Best Practices in Describing Business Processes

This section of the white paper describes the best practices associated with the various types of diagrams
that you can use for process improvement. For each diagram type, we discuss what it is, when to use, how to
use it, and provide an example of the typical use of the diagram.
Describing Business Processes
Activity Diagram
Binary Decision Diagram
Block (Function) Diagram
Causal Loop Diagram
Data Flow Diagram
Data Structure Diagram
Decision Tables
Decision Trees
Entity Relationship Diagram
Hierarchy Diagram
Influence Diagram
Mind Map (Concept Map)
Onion Diagram
Process Flow Diagram
Structograms (Nassi-Shneiderman)
State Diagram
Swim Lane Diagram
System Context Diagram
Use Case Diagram
Warnier/Orr Diagram
Work Flow Diagram

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Describing Business Processes


“What is it?”
A business process is an action, or series or actions that work together to transform an inputted item
into an output that is more usable or valuable. Describing the process is creating a visual or outline
that represents each step in the activity and how it is linked to the next step.
“When do I use it?”
You already do. Business processes are everywhere, and used every day. Anytime you perform an
activity or series of activities you should document it. By documenting the activity you provide
yourself and fellow team members with a record of what has been done that can be referenced in the
future. Not having to reinvent the wheel each time you begin a process will improve productivity.
“How do I use it?”
• Identify the process. Define the start point and finish point for the process to be examined.
• Order intermediate steps. Place each step (or activity) in the order they are executed.
• Indicate critical steps. Label steps that are critical to the success of the process.
• Connect the steps. Once the steps are placed in order, use lines or arrows to connect them,
showing the flow from one step to the next.
• Verify accuracy. Consult with all stakeholders to verify accuracy.
“What does one look like?”

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Activity Diagram
“What is it?”
An activity diagram is part of UML, or unified modeling language. They describe a series of related
activities. Each diagram contains 4 elements: Swimlanes, Action States, Action Flows, and Object
Flows.
“When do I use it?”
When you need to show a high level flow of control between objects, an activity diagram is an
effective tool. Its strengths are showing object relationships, overall flow of control, and activities of
classes.
“How do I use it?”
• Establish swimlanes. Start with three vertical lines. Each column represents a group of
responsibilities that belong to the overall activity you are documenting. You don’t have to worry
about what goes in the columns just yet, but it is good to start with the framework.
• Add a start point. A small filled circle represents a start point, and should be placed in the top-
left corner of the first column. Every activity diagram needs to have a start point.
• Add activities. An activity is represented by a rounded rectangle. You might hear them
referred to as activity states. Add them to your diagram labeling them as you add them with a
description of the activity.
• Decisions. In an activity diagram, a small diamond shape represents a decision. When an
activity requires a decision to move on to the next activity, add a diamond between the two
activities.
• Need a Guard? In UML, guards are a statement written next to a decision diamond that must
be true before moving next to the next activity. These are not necessary, but are useful when a
specific answer, such as “Yes 3 labels are printed”, is needed before moving forward.
• Organize and align. Once you have added all the activities, organize them in order of
occurrence, and align the activities in the swimlanes. Keeping things lined up will make the
activity diagram easier to read and modify later.
• End the process. A small filled circle that has a double border represents an end point. Once
all your activities have been written down place an end point just after the last activity.
“What does one look like?”

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Binary Decision Diagram


“What is it?”
A binary decision diagram (BDD) is a visual representation of the data structure used in a Boolean
function. BDD consist of variables, branches, sub-branches and terminals. BDD are unique for a
Boolean function.
“When do I use it?”
A BDD is useful when you need to reduce a binary decision tree into a more compact data structure,
and remove redundant items. They are also useful when you need to check functional equivalence,
and other Boolean logic mapping.
“How do I use it?”
• Define Boolean Function. Choose the Boolean function or binary decision tree you wish to
build a BDD around. Remember the goal is to visualize the data structure.
• Variables and Branches. If you are starting with only a Boolean function, the first step is to
write a variable, for example x1 that will stand for the starting point. Branch from this first
variable to the second possible variable (called a child). A true value is represented by a solid
line; a false is represented by a dotted line. Repeat this for every possible variable.
• Add your terminals. After the last level of variables has been added, you need to add
terminals. Terminals are nothing more than a 1 or a 0 typed inside a square. The terminals
serve the same purpose as the lines, but indicate the end of a path. Every path must end with a
terminal.
• Identify and remove redundancies. Following a branch and its sub-branches look for
redundant paths. For example, both x2 always leads to x3 which ends in a 1 terminal. When a
redundancy is found, each child variable can be removed and a straight line drawn from the
parent variable to the terminal. Repeat this process until each path is unique, and all
redundancies have been removed.
• Verify accuracy. Consult with all stakeholders to verify accuracy.
“What does one look like?”

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Block (Function) Diagram


Description – “What is it?”
A block diagram is a specialized, high-level flowchart. It utilizes a structured form to present a high-
level overview of major process steps, key process participants and relationships with internal and
external interfaces.
Typical Uses – “When do I use it?”
A block diagram is used to describe and improve existing processes, and to design new processes.
A block diagram provides a quick, high-level view of the work and rapidly identifies process points of
interest. Because of its high-level perspective, it may not offer the level of detail required for more
comprehensive planning or analysis. Team members who construct a block diagram must have a
clear understanding of how the process operates.
Best Practices – “How do I use it?”
• Identify the process. Define the start point and finish point for the process to be examined.
• Identify the key process participants. Identify all key individuals or work groups that
participate in the process.
• Outline and label the diagram. Create a large box to contain the process actions. Subdivide
the box into vertical columns, with one column for each of the key process components. Label
the key participants.
• Indicate input and output. Label the input that activates the process, and label that output that
ends the process.
• Identify each major step of the process. For each step, describe the activity and locate the
box in the appropriate column of the individual or work group that performs the activity. Connect
boxes to show to sequence of events.
• Verify accuracy. Consult with all stakeholders to verify accuracy.
Example – “What does one look like?”

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Causal Loop Diagram


“What is it?”
A causal loop diagram is a simple way to visualize how interrelated variables affect one another.
Bank accounts are a common application for CLDs for their ability to show the affect of interest,
withdrawals, deposits and taxes on the account.
“When do I use it?”
A causal loop diagram is helpful when you have a system or process that has multiple variables
which interact, causing changes to the system. Another way to look at is having a puzzle with pieces
(variables) that change. Each time a piece changes; the image the puzzle depicts changes slightly.
A causal loop diagram helps monitor and predict how changing one piece might affect the rest of the
puzzle.
“How do I use it?”
• Identify. Define what system or process you want to map, and then place a rectangle with a
brief description or title for your process in the center of your page.
• Add variables. Identify and add all the variables that are involved in the system or process,
don’t worry if you can’t think of them all, you can always add more later.
• Connect the pieces. In a CLD, solid lines with an arrowhead at the end are called links, and
represent a relationship between two variables. Once you have defined your variables, add
links between variables that are related. There is no limit on the number of links to and from a
variable.
• Label variables and links. One important aspect of a CLD is how variables are related. The
links show that there is a relationship, but it tells you nothing about the relationship. CLD have a
specific set of labels that help describe each relationship. When an increase in one variable
causes an increase (or improvement) in another variable place an S on their link. The S
denotes same. Conversely if an increase in one causes a decrease in another, then an O, for
opposite, is placed on their link. Do this for each link in your CLD.
• Verify accuracy. Consult with all stakeholders to verify accuracy.
“What does one look like?”

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Cause & Effect (Ishikawa) Diagram


“What is it?”
Originally developed by Kaoru Ishikawa to visualize the causes of a specific event, it has become
know by several names: Cause and Effect, Fishbone, or Ishikawa diagram. It is one of the 7 basic
Quality control tools, and has become commonly used to determine components needed for a
desired outcome.
“When do I use it?”
Anytime you would like to examine why something happened or might happen a cause and effect
diagram is very helpful. It can also be helpful to show relationships between contributing factors.
“How do I use it?”
• Identify the process or event. Define the process to be examined.
• Draw the backbone. Once you identify the process, draw a straight line on your page, and on
the right side, draw a rectangle at the end. Write a brief description of the process in the
rectangle.
• Add a spine. Draw a line that starts on the backbone and extend it out, away from the
backbone at an angle. Think about a fish skeleton, because your diagram will look much like
that when you are done. Either perpendicular or parallel to the spine, write a description of a
cause or effect. Continue to add spines and a cause or effect until you have documented all the
factors you want to diagram.
• Analyze. Once your diagram is done, all that is left to do is analyze and make improvements.
“What does one look like?”

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Data Flow Diagram


“What is it?”
A data flow diagram is used to display the flow of data in an information system. There are 2 types of
notation used in DFD, Yourdon & Coad or Gane & Sarson. They differ in what shapes are used to
describe a process and data store. A data flow diagram includes 4 components: terminators/external
entities, processes, data stores, data flows.
“When do I use it?”
When you need to document the flow of data within a currently used system, or a system that you
are trying to build, you will find a DFD very useful. Data flow diagrams are helpful for both software
engineers and operations personnel because they do not require technical knowledge to create.
“How do I use it?”
• Identify the process. Define the start and end point for the process to be examined.
• Add a process. Once you have established your starting point, add a process. In a DFD
processes are represented by circles with labels in the center. Draw the circle after the start
point with a little space between the two.
• Draw a flow line. Connect the start point and first process with a solid line, ending in an
arrowhead. The arrowhead should point from the start point toward the first the process,
indicating the direction the information is flowing in.
• Repeat. Continue to add processes and data flow lines until all of the systems processes have
been added. One thing to note, when adding data flow lines, start the line at the process that is
sending information out, and end the line with the process that is receiving the information.
• Datastores & files. Some processes produce files (like a word document) or store information.
Think of them as a place that information is remembered, so it can be accessed by others at
different times. These are called datastores and are noted by two horizontal & parallel lines.
When a process leads to a file, add a data store along the data flow line between two
processes.
• Verify accuracy. Consult with all stakeholders to verify accuracy.
“What does one look like?”

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Data Structure Diagram


Description – “What is it?”
A data structure diagram is used to visualize conceptual data models and high level programming
schema. There are 2 components to a DSD, rectangles and arrows. A rectangle represents an
entity, and an arrow represents a relationship. They look similar to an org chart.
Typical Uses – “When do I use it?”
When designing a complex system it is often necessary to look at a more general view of the system.
DSD are helpful in this situation because they are easy to create, and focus on a “high-level” view of
the system. They are related to hierarchy diagrams, so they are also helpful for viewing the
hierarchy of a system. DSD are not helpful when a detailed look at individual processes is needed.
Best Practices – “How do I use it?”
• Identify the process. Define the start point for the process to be examined.
• Add an entity. Draw a square below the start point. In this square write a description of what
this square represents. If it is the 1st process, label it process 1 for example.
• Add a relationship. Draw a straight, solid line from the start point to the first entity.
• Add other processes. Once you have the start and first entity drawn, continue to add other
entities and connecting them with straight lines. Things that are directly connected to the start
should all be drawn on the same level (or hierarchy). If the entity needs to go through the start
and then a step it should be drawn on a lower level. Follow with this logic create the hierarchy
of your data structure.
• Verify accuracy. Consult with all stakeholders to verify accuracy.
Example – “What does one look like?”

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Decision Tables
Description – “What is it?”
In the simplest of terms, a decision table is a non-complicated way to display complicated logic.
They consist of a table that is divided into 4 quadrants: conditions, condition alternatives, actions,
action entries.
Typical Uses – “When do I use it?”
When complicated logic or decisions are present, a decision table helps visualize all possible
outcomes. They can be also useful for tasks like trouble shooting technical problems. Developers
use decision tables to visualize the logic and making changes to their code, while still satisfying all
conditions
Best Practices – “How do I use it?”
• Draw a table. Draw a table with the 4 quadrants mentioned above. Label the first cell of the
table “condition” and the cell below that “actions”.
• Identify conditions. In the second cell list every possible condition, keeping each on a
separate line. The number of conditions will be equal to the number of rows when you are done.
• Identify the actions. Do the same in the cell to the right of actions. List all possible actions,
each on its own line. Think of an action something that can happen that might have an effect on
one or more of the conditions.
• Add a column. Once you have your conditions and actions, add a column to the right side of
your table, dividing it into half.
• Make a grid. Under each condition and action draw a horizontal line that extends across the
new column. In the new column draw vertical lines to create a grid in the last column. The
number of vertical lines you need to draw varies, but can be figured out by with the help of a
calculator. That is the number of lines you need to draw.

• Fill the grid. Fill each grid cell in the conditions area with an alternative (like yes or no). Again,
a little calculation can help us figure out how to fill the squares. Start with the first condition.
Take the number of columns and divide it by the number of alternatives. Let’s say the result of
this is 4 (8 / 2). Fill 4 grid cells with one alternative, and the remaining cells in that row with the
other alternative. For the next condition, take the number a single alternative from the previous
condition and divide it by the number of alternatives. In our example this would be 2 (4 / 2). Fill
two grid cells with one of the alternatives, and 2 with the other alternative. Fill the rest of this
row following this pattern.
• Repeat. Continue with this above process until the table is filled in
• Mark off actions. In the actions section, place an X in each grid cell that matches the action to
the conditions.
• Verify accuracy. Consult with all stakeholders to verify accuracy.
Example – “What does one look like?”

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Decision Trees
Description – “What is it?”
A decision tree can be either a predictive tool or a descriptive tool, depending on its application. In
either instance they are constructed the same way and are always used to visualize all possible
outcomes and decision points that occur chronologically. Decision trees have three main parts,
nodes, branch nodes, and leaf nodes. In more less technical jargon, a node is a starting point, a
branch node is a question needing an answer, and a leaf node is a possible answer (which can lead
to another question).
Typical Uses – “When do I use it?”
Most commonly decision trees are used in the financial world for things like loan approval, portfolio
management, and spending. Another common usage is product development, when examining the
viability of a new product, or new market for a current product.
Best Practices – “How do I use it?”
• Start your tree. Draw a rectangle near the left edge of your page; this is your first node. In this
rectangle write the first question or a criterion that leads to a decision.
• Add branches. For every possible alternative draw a separate line that begins at your node
and moves away toward the right of your page. Using a loan approval process as an example,
the first node may have been “Income”, and the associated branches might be <$50K, $51K -
$100K, >$101K.
• Add some leaves. The bulk of your decision tree will be leaf nodes, which is a fancy way of
saying questions or criteria that occur after the initial node. At the end of each branch add a leaf
node. Fill each of these leaf nodes with another question or criteria.
• Add more branches. Repeat the process of adding a branch for each possible alternative
leading from a leaf. Label each branch just as before.
• Complete the tree. Continue adding leaves and branches (rectangles and lines) until every
question or a criterion has been resolved and you arrive at the outcome.
• Terminate a branch. When you arrive at an outcome, add a small triangle to the end of the
branch. Just after the triangle you can write down the results of that branch in plain text.
• Verify accuracy. Consult with all stakeholders to verify accuracy.
Example – “What does one look like?”

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Entity Relationship Diagram


Description – “What is it?”
An entity relationship diagram (ERD) is the graphical representation of all data stored in a system
and their relationships. Another way to put it is the picture of how the information a system produces
is connected. There are three main pieces to a ERD:
• Entities, which are represented by rectangles

• Relationships, which are represented by diamond shapes

• Connecting lines, sold lines that connect an entity to a relationship.


An ERD looks very much like a Flowchart.
Typical Uses – “When do I use it?”
When documenting a system or process, looking at the system in multiple ways increases the
understanding of that system. ERD diagrams are commonly used in conjunction with a data flow
diagram to display the contents of a datastore. They are very helpful when needing to visualize how
data is connected in a general way, and when constructing a relational database.
Best Practices – “How do I use it?”
• Identify the entities. The first step in making an ERD is to identify all of the entities you will
use. An entity is nothing more than a rectangle with a description of something that your system
stores information about. This could be a customer, a manager, an invoice, a schedule, etc.
Draw a rectangle for each entity you can think of on your page. Keep them spaced out a bit.
• Identify relationships. Look at two entities, are they related? If so draw a solid line connecting
the two entities.
• Describe the relationship. How are the entities related? Draw a diamond between the two
entities on the line you just added. In the diamond write a brief description of how they are
related.
• Complete the diagram. Continue to connect the entities with lines, and adding diamonds to
describe each relationship until all relationships have been described. Each of your entities may
not have any relationships, some may have multiple relationships. That is ok.
• Verify accuracy. Consult with all stakeholders to verify accuracy.
Example – “What does one look like?”

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Flowcharts
Description – “What is it?”
A flowchart is the visualization of a system or process. Consisting of 5 basic objects:
• Oval – start or end point

• Line – connectors that show relationships between things

• Parallelogram – input or output

• Rectangle – a process

• Diamond – a decision
A flowchart is one of the 7 fundamental tools of quality control, and the base for many business
graphics.
Typical Uses – “When do I use it?”
A Anytime you need to visualize, share, or modify information, whether about a process or not, a
flowchart is a highly efficient tool. Flowcharts are also very effective for visualizing deficiencies in a
process, and making decisions.
Best Practices – “How do I use it?”
• Start your chart. Define the start point the process or system to be visualized.
• Add a line. Draw a line from the bottom of the start point (oval) extending down a bit.
• Add a process. Draw a rectangle and write a brief description of the first process at the end of
your line.
• Add a line. Draw a line from the bottom of the process (rectangle) extending down a bit.
• Indicate input and output. If the process generates an output, or needs an input to move on to
the next process, add a parallelogram. Label the parallelogram with the output or input.
• Continue the process. Moving down your page, continue to add rectangles and
parallelograms until you have documented everything you want to.
• Verify accuracy. Consult with all stakeholders to verify accuracy.
Example – “What does one look like?”

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Hierarchy Diagram
Description – “What is it?”
A hierarchy diagram is a type of data structure diagram. They are used to visualize conceptual data
models and the hierarchy of a system. There are 2 components to a hierarchy diagram, rectangles
and arrows. A rectangle represents an entity, and an arrow represents a relationship. They look
similar to an org chart.
Typical Uses – “When do I use it?”
When designing a complex system it is often necessary to look at a more general view of the system.
DSD are helpful in this situation because they are easy to create, and focus on a “high-level” view of
the system. They are related to hierarchy diagrams, so they are also helpful for viewing the
hierarchy of a system. DSD are not helpful when a detailed look at individual processes is needed.
Best Practices – “How do I use it?”
• Identify the process. Define the start point for the process to be examined.
• Add an entity. Draw a square below the start point. In this square write a description of what
this square represents. If it is the 1st process, label it process 1 for example.
• Add a relationship. Draw a straight, solid line from the start point to the first entity.
• Add other processes. Once you have the start and first entity drawn, continue to add other
entities and connecting them with straight lines. Things that are directly connected to the start
should all be drawn on the same level (or hierarchy). If the entity needs to go through the start
and then a step it should be drawn on a lower level. Follow with this logic create the hierarchy
of your data structure.
• Verify accuracy. Consult with all stakeholders to verify accuracy.
Example – “What does one look like?”

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
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Influence Diagram
Description – “What is it?”
A close cousin of the decision trees and often used in conjunction, influence diagrams are a
summary of information contained in a decision tree. They involve 4 variable types for notation: a
decision (a rectangle), chance (an oval), objective (a hexagon), and general (a rounded rectangle).
Influence diagrams also use solid lines to denote influence.
Typical Uses – “When do I use it?”
When you have a very complex decision tree and need either explain it to someone, or present it, an
influence diagram is very helpful.
Best Practices – “How do I use it?”
• Start your tree. Draw a rectangle near the left edge of your page; this is your first node. In this
rectangle write the first question or a criterion that leads to a decision.
• Add branches. For every possible alternative draw a separate line that begins at your node
and moves away toward the right of your page. Using a loan approval process as an example,
the first node may have been “Income”, and the associated branches might be <$50K, $51K -
$100K, >$101K.
• Add some leaves. The bulk of your decision tree will be leaf nodes, which is a fancy way of
saying questions or criteria that occur after the initial node. At the end of each branch add a leaf
node. Fill each of these leaf nodes with another question or criteria.
• Add more branches. Repeat the process of adding a branch for each possible alternative
leading from a leaf. Label each branch just as before.
• Complete the tree. Continue adding leaves and branches (rectangles and lines) until every
question or a criterion has been resolved and you arrive at the outcome.
• Terminate a branch. When you arrive at an outcome, add a small triangle to the end of the
branch. Just after the triangle you can write down the results of that branch in plain text.
• Verify accuracy. Consult with all stakeholders to verify accuracy.
Example – “What does one look like?”

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Mind Map (Concept Map)


Description – “What is it?”
In its simplest form, a mind map is the product of brainstorming on paper. They consist of a central
idea (normally represented by a large circle), a group related ideas (smaller circles), and lines
connecting them all together. They are sometimes referred to as concept or cognitive maps.
Typical Uses – “When do I use it?”
Minds maps are encourage a more creative approach to problems, so they are helpful when very
complex issues arise and need a solution that is not immediately apparent. Mind maps are also
good when collaborating on projects with team members because they lend coherence to ideas that
might seem otherwise unrelated.
Best Practices – “How do I use it?”
• The central idea. Define the central or main idea for your mind map. Start by drawing a large
circle in the center of your page, leaving plenty of room on all sides. Next, write the central idea
or problem in the circle.
• Brainstorm. Think. Every time a thought about your central idea comes to mind, write it down
on the page, and draw a smaller circle around it.
• Connect the thoughts. As you brainstorm add lines to connect circles that are related. If the
idea is directly related to the central idea, connect them with a line. If the idea is related to a sub
idea, then draw a line between them.
• Analyze. Once you have brainstormed for a while, analyze the mind map. You find new ideas
come to mind, you mind the answer you were looking for. Either way it is important to stop and
look at the map.
Example – “What does one look like?”

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Onion Diagram
Description – “What is it?”
An onion diagram is a very simple diagram used to display dependencies in a visual way. It is begins
with a small circle and adds slightly larger circles until each “layer” has been diagrammed. In an
onion diagram a layer is a dependency.
Typical Uses – “When do I use it?”
Using an onion diagram is effective when you need to quickly visualize how pieces of a process
depend on each other. They can also show how things are related, based on their dependencies.
Best Practices – “How do I use it?”
• Identify inner circle. Define the start of your process and draw a small circle. Label this circle
with a brief description. This circle should represent something that must occur in a process
before anything else does.
• Add concentric circles. Draw a slightly larger circle around the previous circle to represent the
next step in the process, and label it. Repeat this for each process until you have included
every step in the process.
• Verify accuracy. Consult with all stakeholders to verify accuracy.
Example – “What does one look like?”

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Process Flow Diagram


Description – “What is it?”
Very similar to a Flowchart, a process flow diagram is most often used to document the flow of
activities. They use the same components as a Flowchart:
• Oval – start or end point

• Line – connectors that show relationships between things

• Parallelogram – input or output

• Rectangle – a process

• Diamond – a decision
Typical Uses – “When do I use it?”
Anytime you need to visualize, share, or modify information about a process, a process flow diagram
is a highly efficient tool. Process flow diagrams are also very effective for visualizing deficiencies in a
process, and making decisions.
Best Practices – “How do I use it?”
• Start your chart. Define the start point the process or system to be visualized.
• Add a line. Draw a line from the bottom of the start point (oval) extending down a bit.
• Add a process. Draw a rectangle and write a brief description of the first process at the end of
your line.
• Add a line. Draw a line from the bottom of the process (rectangle) extending down a bit.
• Indicate input and output. If the process generates an output, or needs an input to move on to
the next process, add a parallelogram. Label the parallelogram with the output or input.
• Continue the process. Moving down your page, continue to add rectangles and
parallelograms until you have documented everything you want to.
• Verify accuracy. Consult with all stakeholders to verify accuracy.
Example – “What does one look like?”

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Structograms (Nassi-Shneiderman)
Description – “What is it?”
Structograms are a type of flowchart used to visualize structured programming. They are more
commonly referred to as Nassi-Shneiderman diagrams, named after their creators. The main
purpose of a Nassi-Shneiderman diagram is to create a logical structure (a blueprint) for the
program.
Typical Uses – “When do I use it?”
If you would normally use a flowchart, but need a bit more structure, then a Nassi-Shneiderman
diagram is your best tool.
Best Practices – “How do I use it?”
• Identify the process. Define the start point and finish point for the process to be examined.
• Identify the key process participants. Identify all key individuals or work groups that
participate in the process.
• Outline and label the diagram. Create a large box to contain the process actions. Subdivide
the box into vertical columns, with one column for each of the key process components. Label
the key participants.
• Indicate input and output. Label the input that activates the process, and label that output that
ends the process.
• Identify each major step of the process. For each step, describe the activity and locate the
box in the appropriate column of the individual or work group that performs the activity. Connect
boxes to show to sequence of events.
• Verify accuracy. Consult with all stakeholders to verify accuracy.
Example – “What does one look like?”

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State Diagram
Description – “What is it?”
A state diagram is a graphical representation of the relationships between states. When working with
software, a state diagram based on standardized UML notation is used. You can also use state
diagrams to show how things behave in a system.
Typical Uses – “When do I use it?”
State diagrams can be used to document how things act in a system or process by visualizing
several examples. State diagrams are should not be used when you only need to know general
information. They offer a great deal of information about how things behave.
Best Practices – “How do I use it?”
• Establish swimlanes. Start with three vertical lines. Each column represents a group of
responsibilities that belong to the overall activity you are documenting. You don’t have to worry
about what goes in the columns just yet, but it is good to start with the framework.
• Add a start point. A small filled circle represents a start point, and should be placed in the top-
left corner of the first column. Every activity diagram needs to have a start point.
• Add states. A state is represented by a rounded rectangle. You might hear them referred to as
activity states. Add them to your diagram labeling them as you add them with a description of
the activity.
• Decisions. In an activity diagram, a small diamond shape represents a decision. When an
activity requires a decision to move on to the next activity, add a diamond between the two
activities.
• Organize and align. Once you have added all the activities, organize them in order of
occurrence, and align the activities in the swimlanes. Keeping things lined up will make the
activity diagram easier to read and modify later.
• End the process. A small filled circle that has a double border represents an end point. Once
all your activities have been written down place an end point just after the last activity.
• Establish swimlanes. Start with three vertical lines. Each column represents a group of
responsibilities that belong to the overall activity you are documenting. You don’t have to worry
about what goes in the columns just yet, but it is good to start with the framework.
Example – “What does one look like?”

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Swim Lane Diagram


Description – “What is it?”
Essentially a swim lane diagram is a flowchart, and they can be used to display the same kind of
information. What makes a swim lane diagram unique is that the flowchart objects are kept in lanes,
grouping them together. These lanes help visualize stages, employees, departments, etc.
Typical Uses – “When do I use it?”
Say you have a process that you want to document. A flowchart will work great, but you want to
easily see what department is working on a group of tasks. You should use a swim lane diagram.
The lanes will allow you to group process together by department
Best Practices – “How do I use it?”
• Identify your lanes. Draw vertical lines, equally spaced apart on your page. The number of
lines you draw depends on the number of groups you want. Each group should have its own
lane when you are done.
• Start your chart. Define the start point the process or system to be visualized.
• Start your chart. Define the start point the process or system to be visualized.
• Add a line. Draw a line from the bottom of the start point (oval) extending down a bit.
• Add a process. Draw a rectangle and write a brief description of the first process at the end of
your line.
• Add a line. Draw a line from the bottom of the process (rectangle) extending down a bit.
• Indicate input and output. If the process generates an output, or needs an input to move on to
the next process, add a parallelogram. Label the parallelogram with the output or input.
• Verify accuracy. Consult with all stakeholders to verify accuracy.
Example – “What does one look like?”

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Best Practices in Business Graphics | A White Paper Series
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System Context Diagram


Description – “What is it?”
A system context diagram is a visual representation of a very general system description. They are
part of the data flow diagram family, and use the same notation.
Typical Uses – “When do I use it?”
System context diagrams are normally used either before a project begins, or very early on in the
project. They give a very broad and general view of a system or project and allow more accurate
planning to occur. System context diagrams are read by all stakeholders and t should be written in
as simple language as possible, to allow the stakeholders to understand the diagram.
Best Practices – “How do I use it?”
• Identify the process. Define the start and end point for the process to be examined.
• Add a process. Once you have established your starting point, add a process. In a DFD
processes are represented by circles with labels in the center. Draw the circle after the start
point with a little space between the two.
• Draw a flow line. Connect the start point and first process with a solid line, ending in an
arrowhead. The arrowhead should point from the start point toward the first the process,
indicating the direction the information is flowing in.
• Repeat. Continue to add processes and data flow lines until all of the systems processes have
been added. One thing to note, when adding data flow lines, start the line at the process that is
sending information out, and end the line with the process that is receiving the information.
• Datastores & files. Some processes produce files (like a word document) or store information.
Think of them as a place that information is remembered, so it can be accessed by others at
different times. These are called datastores and are noted by two horizontal & parallel lines.
When a process leads to a file, add a data store along the data flow line between two
processes.
• Verify accuracy. Consult with all stakeholders to verify accuracy.
Example – “What does one look like?”

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Use Case Diagram


Description – “What is it?”
A use case diagram is used to provide a general description of a system by combining two key
elements:
• Actors – the users of a system

• Use cases – what the system does for or too the user
Use case diagrams are very general and resemble other UML diagrams like DFD and DSD.
Typical Uses – “When do I use it?”
Use case diagrams are should be used when a displaying or sharing all the details of several use
cases is over kill, but a summary of several use cases in a simple document would work well. An
example is when a web developer might need to explain how an online purchasing system will work
to a client. A general overview of sample events will give the client the information they need to feel
comfortable.
Best Practices – “How do I use it?”
• Identify the process. Define the start point and finish point for the process to be examined.
• Add your actors. Draw a stick figure for each possible type of user. Place them vertically, and
space them evenly to keep your diagram clean and simple.
• Add your system. Draw a large rectangle that will represent your system as a whole. The
actors should not be in this rectangle, but rather just outside of it.
• Add your use cases. Inside of the rectangle, draw a circle for each use case, and write a brief
description of each use case in the circle.
• Add associations. Draw a solid line from an actor to a use case. This is an association, and
depicts that that type of user will use the system in a manner that matches the use case.
• Verify accuracy. Consult with all stakeholders to verify accuracy.
Example – “What does one look like?”

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Warnier/Orr Diagram
Description – “What is it?”
Warnier/Orr diagrams are a type of flowchart focusing on a hierarchy. Just like flowcharts they
describe processes and events in the order they happen in. The distinguishing feature of a
Warnier/Orr diagram is its extensive use of brackets as notation.
Typical Uses – “When do I use it?”
When you need to describe a process or system, and need a very simple diagram, you should be
using a Warnier/Orr diagram. They are not useful for showing relationships, or responsibility.
Instead you should use a swim lane diagram.
Best Practices – “How do I use it?”
• Identify the process. Define the start point of the process you wish to describe by drawing a
large bracket. Label the bracket with a description of the first step.
• Add more brackets. Continue to add brackets, one for each step of the process, until the
entire process has been described. When you add a bracket, add it to the end of the previous
bracket. If the process splits, add a bracket to each end of the previous bracket.
• Verify accuracy. Consult with all stakeholders to verify accuracy.
• Identify the process. Define the start point of the process you wish to describe by drawing a
large bracket. Label the bracket with a description of the first step.
• Add more brackets. Continue to add brackets, one for each step of the process, until the
entire process has been described. When you add a bracket, add it to the end of the previous
bracket. If the process splits, add a bracket to each end of the previous bracket.
• Verify accuracy. Consult with all stakeholders to verify accuracy.
Example – “What does one look like?”

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Work Flow Diagram


Description – “What is it?”
A block diagram is a specialized, high-level flowchart. It utilizes a structured form to present a high-
level overview of major process steps, key process participants and relationships with internal and
external interfaces.
Typical Uses – “When do I use it?”
A block diagram is used to describe and improve existing processes, and to design new processes.
A block diagram provides a quick, high-level view of the work and rapidly identifies process points of
interest. Because of its high-level perspective, it may not offer the level of detail required for more
comprehensive planning or analysis. Team members who construct a block diagram must have a
clear understanding of how the process operates.
Best Practices – “How do I use it?”
• Start your chart. Define the start point the process or system to be visualized.
• Add a line. Draw a line from the bottom of the start point (oval) extending down a bit.
• Add a process. Draw a rectangle and write a brief description of the first process at the end of
your line.
• Add a line. Draw a line from the bottom of the process (rectangle) extending down a bit.
• Indicate input and output. If the process generates an output, or needs an input to move on to
the next process, add a parallelogram. Label the parallelogram with what the output or input is.
• Continue the process. Moving down your page, continue to add rectangles and
parallelograms until you have documented everything you want to.
• Verify accuracy. Consult with all stakeholders to verify accuracy.
Example – “What does one look like?”

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About SmartDraw

Founded in 1994, SmartDraw.com is the creator of SmartDraw, the World's Most Popular
Business Graphics Software.

SmartDraw makes it easy for anyone to create professional-quality business graphics


such as flowcharts, org charts, Gantt charts, timelines, floor plans and more in minutes -
no experience or training required. Each day more than 6000 people install SmartDraw
for the first time and more than 10 million users have downloaded SmartDraw.

SmartDraw.com is the leader in the rapidly growing Business Graphics market that is
made up of the millions of ordinary computer users who want to create attractive and
effective business graphics, but don't have the expertise to use software designed for
graphics professionals.

The key to SmartDraw's success is its unique SmartTemplate™ technology that makes
creating business graphics as easy as typing a letter with a word processor. SmartDraw
has developed hundreds of SmartTemplates for every type of business graphic. Each
SmartTemplate loads a diagram specific SmartPanel™ command set and the associated
SmartHelp™ step-by-step instructions. By using a SmartTemplate, a user becomes an
instant expert on how to make a complex diagram and with SmartDraw's gallery of
professionally designed styles, an instant graphic designer too.

For more information see our Corporate Fact Sheet.

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Index of Business Process

Planning
• Planning Process
• Project Approval Process

Human Resources
• Hiring
• Pre-Employment Testing
• Payroll and Compensation
• Annual Performance Review
• Holiday Scheduling
• Recruitment
• Event Planning
• Grievances
• Workplace conduct
• Training

Facility Management
• Work Place Safety
• Maintenance Requests
• Energy Usage Control
• Space Allocation (Planning)
• Preventative Maintenance
• Environmental Control
• Cleaning
• Security

Finance & Accounting


• Budget
• General Ledger
• Contracts
• Capital Expenditure & Asset Control
• Accounts Payable
• Accounts Receivable
• Collections and Recovery
• Financial Statements & Reports
• Auditing/Controls
• Treasury & Investments
• Inventory Management
• Regulatory Filling (SEC)
• Financial Decision Making

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• Cost Accounting
• Payroll
• Records Management
• Invoicing

Quality Assurance & Process Improvement


• PDCA/DMAIC
• Failure Testing
• TQC/TQM
• Six Sigma
• Customer Survey
• Standard Operating Procedures
• Work Flow
• Data Validation and verification
• Project Plan
• Peer Review

Sales & Marketing


• Defining KPIs
• Keyword Selection
• Marketing Strategy Design
• Prioritizing Initiatives
• Campaign Management
• Customer Relationship Management
• Closing a Sale
• Lead management
• SWOT analysis
• Direct Marketing
• Print Advertising
• Product Pricing
• Target Market Analysis and Sizing
• Competitive Analysis
• Public Relations and Marketing Communications
• Search Engine Optimization
• Pay-Per-Click
• Mission Statement and Positioning Statement
• Marketing Objectives and Tactics
• Brand Value
• Marketing and Sales Collateral
• Conference and Tradeshow Selection Process

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Information Technology
• Deployment of New Software
• Client System Upgrades
• Request Management
• Sever Back up
• Server Maintenance
• Solution Implementation
• System Design
• Employee Training
• Project Evaluation
• Disaster Recovery Procedures
• Reporting

Customer Care
• Tech Support
• Customer Training
• Customer Relationship Management
• Incoming Call Routing
• Incoming Email Handling
• Conflict Resolution
• Product Repair

Operations
• Shipping
• Inventory
• Supply Chain Management
• Purchasing\Procurement
• Staffing
• Safety
• Production

Manufacturing
• Lean
• Six Sigma
• Quality Assurance
• Assembly

Product Development
• Market Research
• Competitive Analysis
• Development

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