Is There Life after Requirements? Part 1.
Tools that Support Business Process Improvement
So you have a requirements plan. You have elicited functional, non-functional, and quality of service requirements. You have validated and verified them, and your stakeholders are satisfied. Now what?
I like to think of the requirements part of a business analysis project as the analysis function; that is, to answer the questions “What do we have and what do we need?” The next step is to evaluate and answer the question “Is it any good, and what improvements can be made to the process?”
The overall process may look something like this.
NEED > REQUIREMENTS > AS IS > ANALYSIS > EVALUATION > TO BE
> COMMUNICATE > IMPLEMENT
Business process improvement is based on a model-oriented approach that requires a robust set of tools for a consistent and thorough application.
Relationship of Tools and Techniques
Commercial modeling and analysis tools are usually designed to be as general-purpose as possible to gain the widest possible base of users. The tools typically focus on specific modeling techniques; but in some cases, the tools may not enforce the modeling syntax and procedures. Enforcement of the appropriated modeling syntax and procedures of these techniques must be a basic requirement for consideration of individual tools.
Note that the same technique can play various roles within the entire improvement program. A repository capability is generally required to integrate the myriad techniques and tools within the context of an overall methodological approach. An example would be a standard requirements document and a list of organization-accepted models.
Tool support for AS-IS modeling needs to facilitate data gathering and synthesis of the model. Once built, the model must be analyzable to identify improvement opportunities. As a minimum, tool support for TO-BE modeling must allow easy modification and reorganization of the AS-IS model to generate the TO-BE model. Ultimately, TO-BE modeling support should allow modeling teams to easily incorporate “best practice” templates. Deriving the TO-BE process model from the AS-IS is a difficult task that must be supported by other techniques.
Business rules define the fundamental structure for business management and are relatively stable when compared to processes. Many different business processes can use the same set of business rules. A change in business rules, however, can facilitate a significant modification of the associated business process. Current business rules, reflected by an AS-IS model, can help define and clarify the basic nature of a business process, independent of the current organization and resources. New business rules, depicted by a TO-BE model, define fundamental changes that can lead to significant streamlining of a business process. At a minimum, a modeling tool must support rigorous definition of business rules and facilitate easy modification.
Basic Tool Functions
Within an emerging, business process improvement effort, support tools should satisfy the following requirements.
- Model Management. Versioning, keeping straight the different versions, and configuration control of models are required to keep track of various iterations of AS-IS and TO-BE models and the interrelationship between the functional focus of various teams.
- Model Authoring. Both graphical and natural language facilities are required for the rapid and effective creation of models. Unlike mere drawing tools, modeling semantics and rules must be enforced by the supporting software.
- Model Analysis and Validation. An advanced set of functions are needed to validate models for logical consistency and completeness. Once validated, these models must support the analysis to help discover opportunities to improve the overall effectiveness of the business processes.
- Model Integration and Mapping. A total enterprise-wide, broad, multiple-organization process model cannot and should not be created as the result of a single project. Instead, specific views should be created and validated and then integrated on an evolutionary basis to create a comprehensive, enterprise-wide definition.
- Model Presentation. A comprehensive set of graphing and textual reporting tools are required to facilitate effective presentation of modeling results at both technical and managerial levels. These reporting capabilities should include the ability to generate English-like statements of complex business rules.
- Model Transformation. Modeling results need to be fed directly to a variety of tools and other implementation environments through the use of model transformation functions and custom interfaces. Possible transformation capabilities might include the ability to automatically generate relational database structures to support heuristic prototyping of conceptual business rules.
Tool Integration Strategy
No single modeling tool is currently capable of performing all the types of modeling and analysis needed for business analysis, and new types of analyses will continue to evolve as the business analysis discipline matures. Therefore, an open-tool architecture that allows multiple tools to share model definitions through common languages is required.
Business rules define the fundamental structure for business management and are relatively stable when compared to processes. Many different business processes can use the same set of business rules. A change in business rules, however, can facilitate a significant modification of the associated business process. Current business rules, reflected by an AS-IS model, can help define and clarify the basic nature of a business process independent of the current organization and resources. New business rules, depicted by a TO-BE model, define fundamental changes that can lead to significant streamlining of a business process. At a minimum, a modeling tool must support rigorous definition of business rules and facilitate easy modification.
In this age of automation, we have a tendency to become so involved in the designing and programming of the ultimate system that we tend to forget the art of “Work Simplification.” This is a serious omission, because work simplification is the foundation of the systems and business analysis concepts.
What Is Work Simplification?
Work simplification is the organized application of common sense to eliminate waste of any kind, such as time, energy, space, and imagination, through simpler or better ways of doing work.
Elimination of waste implies getting results, not merely talking about it. Results come from better methods only when they are enthusiastically employed by the people concerned. Work simplification never overlooks the importance of acceptance of the new method by the people who will use it. The leaders in scientific management have long recognized the importance of enthusiastic cooperation. They developed and installed better methods only to return shortly to find that the people on the job have reverted to old methods. These leaders recognized the problem involved the most difficult and highest type of selling – the selling of an idea. People buy what they want rather than what is good for them or what they need. The first and most important problem is to get the individuals involved into the act. Participation built on understanding stimulates interest, initiative, and imagination and results in enthusiastic cooperation.
Work simplification is not a speed-up program. It does not mean asking anyone to work harder or faster. It is an attempt to “work smarter – not harder.” If it were a speed-up, we might commit the error of speeding up all parts of a job, both the necessary and unnecessary. The stimulating thing about this course is that it recognizes that no one knows the details of a job better than the person doing the job. If we can help maintain an open mind, think objectively about work, and systematically apply some of the simple tools of analysis, the worker will do a better job and be a better team member.
A Brief History
People from the earliest days have been inventors and builders of machines. The Chinese invented a method of block printing to replace slow hand lettering. Around 1450, the first crude printing press was invented using movable type, and productivity increased again.
The 18th century changes from hand labor to machine came so fast that this period is called the Industrial Revolution.
In 1764, the spinning jenny superseded the manually operated spinning wheel.
Then came the loom in 1785 and the steam engine with motor power in 1787.
The great-grandfather of our modern lathe was introduced in 1784, and the milling machine in 1808.
The invention of the electric motor in 1837 opened up new fields for machines to replace hand labor.
All through the 19th century, more and more machines were developed to take over the jobs done by hand. Writers called this period the “period of invention and mechanization,” lasting from 1785 to 1885, about 100 years.
Now let’s look at the next period, which was a continuation of the mechanization but with something new added.
In 1885, Frederick W. Taylor introduced what was later called “scientific management” when his scientific studies of fatigue in the steel pits increased productivity 400%. In the same year, Taylor introduced time studies and, later, wage incentives. On many jobs, productivity doubled. His research in the art of cutting materials revolutionized machine shop production.
Mr. Taylor was followed by the Gilbreths, Frank and Lillian. The Gilbreths introduced a more refined technique; scientific management but with some new angles: motion analysis and motion study. As a contractor, Frank Gilbreth developed methods and materials in the brick-laying portion of the contracting business in the possibility of laying 350 bricks per hour compared to 120 per hour with the old method. Gilbreth was really applying another form of scientific management, the principle of motion economy. Consider this the second phase of the industrial development of improved productivity, namely the “Period of the Expert.” This period extended from 1885 to about 1935 and, of course, in reality, still continues.
The period 1910-1940, characterized by greater industrial development and increased capacity, saw the spectacular rise of the efficiency expert who flashed his stop watch here and there and ultimately doomed himself to failure. He left a psychological scar on the labor force of America. It was apparent that people could not be pushed, predicted, and calibrated by using the same approach to them as one would use on a piece of machinery.
Clerical and Administrative
There is somewhat of a parallel in the administrative and clerical fields to the industrial developments. Starting in 1885, with the invention of the typewriter, there was a transition period from the quill pen and male secretary to the typewriter and the female secretary. There was a transition from bookkeepers at roll top desks to folks at calculating machines. We moved from manual sorting to IBM, with the latest electronic machines capable of sorting six digit numbers at the rate of 10,000 cards per hour. And today, on a computer, we can sort half a million characters per hour and print 1,500 lines of type per minute. Compare this with the manual method of 300 and 500 cards per hour. We have adopted many other mechanical ways making it possible to increase productivity by mechanization. In the office we have been, for the most part, strictly “expertizing.” We had the efficiency expert who tried to do a good job. However, most times he didn’t even have the support of management.
Approach to Work Simplification
The basic approach to achieve our objectives of doing a better job, with less effort and time at the lowest possible cost is to:
- Eliminate the unnecessary parts of a process
- Combine and rearrange the rest of the process
- Simplify the necessary part of the process
The sequence cannot be changed, because it incorporates fundamentals of mental discipline we must follow in order to acquire and keep our objectivity. If we are to have an open mind to review a job, the first question is whether or not it is necessary. If it isn’t, stop right there. Too often effort is made to combine, rearrange, or simplify jobs that should not exist.
A method-minded member is usually a good employee and their method-mindedness is usually contagious so that other employees will also be method-minded. Such people are of great aid to procedures personnel. The objectives and benefits of work simplification can be more easily and readily obtained through the participation of as many employees as possible; it cannot be achieved satisfactorily merely by a particular group assigned to study such matters.
Obstacles to Work Simplification
If the objectives of work simplification are not new, and it is obvious that everyone should wish to find simpler and better ways of doing work, why don’t we get more action? The best improvements in the manner of office work performance may produce discouraging results because of employee attitudes and reactions. This has been summarized in four words, “employee resistance to change.”
There are four definite reasons why we resist change.
- Change disrupts work habits.
- Change disrupts complacency.
- Change implies criticism.
- Change affects security.
1. Work Habits
How do you feel when you try to change a habit? The same is true with work habits. Work habits are very difficult to change. It has been said that habit is a cable. We weave a cable piece every day until we cannot break it. Habits are a curse, in a sense, because they take control of us and, in effect, force us to resist change. We want to avoid the situation where an improved routine is put in place over someone’s “dead body.”
Complacency is the “Leave me alone, don’t change it” attitude. It is easy to acquire.
One of the main obstacles we find in industry is the resistance to change. Changing methods, apparatus, equipment, systems, forms, routines, and even people, meets resistance. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that there always is and always will be change. Resistance to change is not new; history is full of classic examples of people who assumed that certain things were good just as they were. Here are a few examples involving names you will recognize are,
Commodore Vanderbilt, when approached by George Westinghouse about an air brake, replied, “I have no time to listen to fools who want to blow air on wheels to stop trains.”
Bankers told Arthur Pitney that his proposition to print postage on envelopes was impossible. “Can’t you understand that allowing private individuals to print postage directly on envelopes amounts to allowing them to print United States currency?”
Chauncey Depew admitted late in life that he advised his nephew not to invest $5,000 in Ford Company stock because “nothing has yet to come along to best the horse.”
In the industrial field, one man stands out as a pioneer in breaking down resistance to change; that man is Mr. Charles Kettering. Kettering had many troubles; one was painting automobiles. Back in 1922, General Motors and other automobile manufacturers had trouble delivering enough cars. The warehouses were full of unfinished cars because they couldn’t paint them fast enough. Kettering called in some paint experts. They sat down and began to tell him why it took 33 days to paint a Cadillac and 22 days to paint a Buick. He told them he didn’t want to know why it takes so long, but what could be done to improve it. They spent three days discussing it and then advised him that they were sorry but nothing could be done to improve or reduce painting time. “Because,” they said, “painting time is controlled by nature: everybody knows that nature governs the time of drying and you can’t possible hurry nature.” So they went away, figuring that they had convinced Kettering.
A few days later, Kettering was in New York and walking up Fifth Avenue. He saw a small pin tray in a store window. This tray was painted with a peculiar kind of lacquer. His curiosity aroused, Kettering found the name of the manufacturer and visited him at a small plant in Newark, New Jersey. He asked if he could purchase a gallon of the lacquer. The fellow said, “Why in the world do you want a gallon? I haven’t used that much since I first started to make it. This stuff is still in the experimental stage.” Mr. Kettering informed him that he would like to paint an automobile with it. The manufacturer said, “Mister, you can’t possibly do that. You see, this stuff dries too fast. You can’t do anything about it, you just can’t slow it down.” So, one expert said you can’t do anything about the process because it takes nature just so long to dry paint, and the other said you can’t do anything about the process because the paint dries too fast. This was the beginning of the quick-drying lacquers that are used today.
Fear of criticism is a rugged obstacle. When you change a method, you are, in effect, criticizing the person who installed it. It is natural for someone to ask, “Why should I accept so-and-so’s idea? He is just trying to make a fool out of me. The boss will think I am a fool because I didn’t think of the idea first.”
Again, participation helps. If we can get people to participate, to take part in solving their problems, the barrier of criticism automatically disappears. The same individuals who resented intrusion will offer unreserved cooperation when they are let in on the problem at the start, and hence, become members of the team.
The fourth and final obstacle is fear of job security. Let’s face it. Every time there is a proposed change in an office, the employees get momentary jitters. What will this change do to my job? Fear of the unknown contributes to the employees’ resistance to change.
We must realize that increased productivity per person leads to increased job security. Better service or lower prices increase the market volume and create more work. Obviously, there are more people today who are engaged in the automobile and allied industries than there were in the carriage-making industry when it became defunct.
Every time the customer pays more than the most scientific methods of production and distribution require, there will be less buying than there might have been. This, in turn, results in less employment and a further shrinkage of the consumer’s dollar.
A company’s, division’s, agency’s, or office’s very existence depends largely upon the quality of the work performed by its employees. Every employee must continually look for a better way to improve that quality. When an organization’s functions fail to improve, it may be eliminated or forced out of existence by other units, which have, as part of their objectives, the constant review and upgrading of their functions. No strike, war, or disaster can so completely destroy a person’s job as that. It is not a matter of whether we wish to improve our operations but the security of every person in the organization who depends upon it.
In summing up, I think that we will all agree that all four obstacles can be overcome by letting the people who are involved in any methods or procedures alteration participate in the planning. When we conquer these obstacles, we will have these same people learn to laugh at complacency and poke fun at the complacent fellows who are so close-minded. Since they themselves advocate the change, we are able to alter more of their habits with little or no confusion. Criticism vanishes when a person participates, and of course, he feels more secure because he had a part in the planning and naturally will not jeopardize his own status.
Watch for Part 2 of Is There Life after Requirements? in next week’s Business Analyst Times which will be posted on Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Don’t forget to leave your comments below
Dr. Victor Teplitzky, an independent consultant, has more than 34 years’ experience in training and development, project management, organizational development, and business analysis.Dr. Teplitzky studied industrial engineering and quantitative analysis, holds an MS in organizational development and a Ph.D. in theology, and is a board-registered naturopathic doctor. He is a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI®), the National Society of Professional Engineers, and the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA). Dr. Teplitzky is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP®) by PMI and as a Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP®) by IIBA. He is also a contracting officer’s technical representative (COTR), an EAM-approved advanced environmental management system (EMS) auditor for quality and environment (ISO 14000), an ANSI-RAB accredited EMS auditor (ISO 14000), and a quality systems development and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) master. For more information about Global Knowledge courses or to register for a course, visit www.globalknowledge.com or call 1-866-925-7765
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