How to Use a Process Walk-through to Validate Requirements for a New System

When I began my latest consulting job, one of my first deliverables was to assist the stakeholders with a process walk through.  The purpose of the walk through was to identify gaps in the ‘to” be business process.  This was one way of determining if there were gaps because all teams were in new positions, the actual project roll out was not until for over a year and the systems requirements were still being determined.  So that means we have to move and deliver!

Walking through a process can help you find gaps

Here is how the walkthrough works.

  • Each of the departments will work independently, as they will in the new process.
  • The project manager puts together a customer package of a closed project – this is the full construction package that gives us the details we need to do our jobs as we walk this through the process.  (This would include maps, drawings, requirements, customer information, approval documents).
  • We also have the new process maps, the documentation and an idea of how we want the tools to perform.  This is difficult at this stage as the new systems do not have requirements yet and everyone is wondering what they will look like.

The first team starts out with the customer and gathers information.  As we all wait for the order to arrive in our work queue, we realize how much time is actually spent with the customer – gathering information, using tools to detail maps.  We have a conference bridge set up – and we hear ‘ customer group calling design’ and design answering.

The business analysts are looking for gaps in the process.

  • What has stopped the workflow?
  • Can we move it again?
  • What system trigger do we need?
  • Do we need the CRM system to tell us that all customer information is complete and the quote can be created?

Once the status changes to quote accepted by the customer, then the next team is engaged.  They receive their detailed package from the Customer group but once they examine it they are missing key maps of the customer site.  At this point, the run through grinds to a halt and phone conversations start and questions are recorded by the BAs.  This gap is highlighted and logged and the team moves the process on to the next team.

Conversations ebb and flow on the conference bridge.   We find that it is very easy to slip back into current process as the pressure to deliver your piece increases.  Some team members realize that the process is now in current state and try to bring everyone into the future state but it is difficult.  There are a lot of variables and no systems to work with.

The entire day works like this.  We start and stop as gaps are identified.  What really works is having the business owners discuss their handoff process between each other.  They discuss and negotiate to determine what they both need to see.  This becomes the most valuable part of the entire exercise – and what proves to bring the teams together to start understanding each other’s process and have a vested interest in the entire process.  At the end we gather together and talk about the day and what went well and what could be done better. You can feel the positive energy in the room and the beginnings of understanding.

The gaps include the lack of systems, the lack of documents and information to work with, and staying in the future state.  The most successful part of the walk through is the conversations started with each business owner as they look at the hand off documents to the next team and realize the impact they have on each other.  Do their inputs and outputs flow and match?  What would be more effective?  The greatest value is seeing the teams working together and reasoning out how the new process would and should work.  Those conversations are the gems from the day.

>>Learn About Other Requirements Validation Techniques

There are many ways to validate requirements. Read these articles for some variations:

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