This video shows examples of functional flow diagrams and describes a step-by-step process to create the diagram.
- So, where do you start? The answer always starts with the external entity whose relationship you are looking to analyze. In nearly all cases, it is the customer that initiates the process based on their needs, wants, or expectations. The functional flow diagram is the next level of detail. By focusing on a single external entity, you can map out what functions are required inside your organization, providing context to the relationship that you are now analyzing.
Think of a bit like a context diagram within a context diagram. Rather than providing context to the organization itself, you are now providing context to the interaction between these two entities. Choose the external entity and interaction that you want to focus on in the functional flow diagram. In this case, we will choose the customer making a purchase. Have a think about all the potential stakeholders of functional areas within your organization, their involvement throughout the intimate process you are analyzing.
With all of the potential stakeholders listed, you're now in a great position to work with them in validating their involvement. The best way to achieve this is to run high-level process workshops with subject matter experts from the areas that you believe are impacted, especially if you are not. It's a great way to whiteboard each function from end to end. These stakeholders will be able to tell you if their respective areas are involved or not. We will now walk through an example of how to create a functional flow diagram.
Firstly, we start with drawing an oval, and labeling inside the oval with the narrative, customer. The customer initiates a purchase request against the merchant selling the process. You will note that we do not map what was purchased, though only capture that a purchase has been requested. The merchant then needs to determine if the customer has authority to make the purchase by sending a request for approval to the authorizations department. The decisions on the request for approval is returned to the merchant, and the merchant sends a charge receipt to the customer.
The authorization department also sends the purchase information onto the billing department. The billing department is required to send a bill to the customer. The customer makes the purchase payment which was received by the billing department, and a statement is sent to the customer. The customer happily leaves the merchant with their newly purchased goods. So, the core of creating a functional flow diagram is one, draw a circle to represent each functional area.
Secondly, connect the areas with arrows to illustrate their relationships, and thirdly, label the arrows to identify what is exchanged in the two areas. Remember, at no time does the functional flow diagram mention anything about how the merchant requests approval, or how the billing department issues a receipt. These steps are captured in a process flow chart at a later stage. Then lastly, be sure to check back in with the stakeholders that represented each of the functional areas and validate your functional flow diagram.
They'll be delighted to see that their area has been captured correctly, and you'll be prepared for more detailed analysis.
- Using common modeling tools
- Determining when to use a particular modeling diagram
- Avoiding the pitfalls associated with each diagram
- Creating diagrams
- Leveraging key stakeholders