Yesterday, Mark Talaba and I had a great conversation about processes and the long term success of businesses. While I mostly focus on how things relate to each other like Shopping Cart→Items, it is extremely important to understand the process. It is the process that is key to a successful relationship with customers and with the overall success of a business.
Mark pointed out with an entire generation of knowledge workers retiring, retaining their knowledge on important processes is extremely important. What if we knew all of the power levels and data points for a power plant, but didn’t know what to do if one of these variables went wrong. Who would we call? How long would it take to clear up? What is the expected outcome? Who is to blame? How do we understand it and learn from these mistakes so it doesn’t happen again? Chances are there is a Judy or Todd at the company who will get the phone call and know what to do today. But what if they are gone. All the data in the world won’t help a team understand the process of the logic inside their heads.
Capturing this knowledge is critical to the success of any web application project. Making sure that not only the data gets stored, but also the process of how that data is captured and used. In our conversation Mark mentioned how this need was identified by Craig J. Andrews, P.E. who decided to create an application of his own based on the process diagram capabilities of Microsoft Visio. His company Global Enterprise Managers, Inc. has created GEMWorX to help businesses quickly document processes and then use this knowledge for improvement and training purposes.
The GemWorX tool does this by managing relationships and links between organizations, technologies, and requirements. These items can be used within the Visio diagram and the tool even prompts you to make sure that you are using them whenever possible. GEMWorX for the most part gets out of the way while diagram processes and charts in Visio, working behind the scenes to track how the objects are being used and track when new ones are being created. This way you can have continuity between diagrams with a shared set of objects and save time not having to recreate them in the future.
Once you have created a diagram or series of diagrams in GEMWorX you can share that with others using a set of office documents, web documents, or database reports.
While this application may or may not be a fit for every organization its message is clear. It is important not only look at how things relate, but the process that one goes about creating information in the first place, using it, and producing results. This insight can not only help improve processes today, but can be critical to understanding today’s processes tomorrow.