Using a Process Reference Model for Defining Software Requirements

Using a Process Reference Model for Defining Software Requirements

Today’s global companies face an unprecedented amount of change. Technology has blurred the lines between business segments, allowing ambitious companies to enter new industries with game-changing offers. And in the wake of the recent recession, emerging-market multinationals have gained strength, market share, and sophistication, presenting an increasing threat to incumbent players. However, recent advances in business process management (BPM) software, tools, approaches, and process reference models have made these goals more achievable. These changes have allowed organizations to become more responsive and improve core business processes as conditions change, using standardized, industry- and function-specific best practices. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of using a process reference model for defining requirements.

APQC PCFThere are a number of process reference models available, including: Accenture, APQC’s Process Classification Framework (PCF), SAP, Supply Chain Council, the Telecommunications Management Forum, and the Value Chain Group. The Process Classification Framework (PCF) developed by APQC in 1992, is a widely used business tool. This open source framework is commonly referenced in business books, incorporated into numerous consulting methodologies for process improvement and re-engineering, and has been translated into many languages, including Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, Polish, and Portuguese.

In business process design, frameworks and reference models help support process analysis, design, and modeling activities. Starting with a process framework or reference model can significantly accelerate these activities, providing analysis professionals with a sturdy foundation on which to build.

A framework helps organizations in three key areas: benchmarking, content management, and business process definition. The cost of not using a process framework is the additional time it takes the process design team to develop their own process model and obtain process consensus from the project stakeholders.

Benchmarking and process measurement activities are generally too costly to undertake without the use of a process framework or reference model. Using a process framework or reference model as a common language reduces the effort required for benchmarking activities. Internally, organizations need a common way to describe the work they do so that it can be consistently and repeatedly measured. Externally, organizations normalize their internal processes against the process framework or reference model, and depend on the objective, standard definitions in the framework to enable the comparison of processes across organizational boundaries.

Content management activities rely on common taxonomies. Using a process framework or reference model as the basis for a content management taxonomy helps knowledge managers quickly build consensus among various stakeholders, even when the structure of the reference model doesn’t precisely map to existing enterprise process models. The process framework or reference model acts as an interface between the way the content is organized and the way work is performed.

A uniform process model organized under a process reference model makes business modeling and systems designing much easier. For example, SAP implementations and configuration options are almost always determined using the SAP process reference model. Process reference models have also been used by several organizations to define ITIL application services in aligning IT services with business processes. Business analysts and process improvement teams should seriously consider using a process classification framework.

Enfocus Solutions Inc. knows the benefit and payback of using a process reference model for content management. Enfocus Solutions’ primary product, Enfocus Requirement Suite™, is a powerful tool, knowledgebase, and framework that helps organizations define requirements. One component of the suite is the Requirement Coach™, a collection of materials logically and sequentially organized to parallel activities in the Enfocus Requirement Suite. To guide the analyst and project manager toward success, the Requirement Coach includes thousands of example requirements, stakeholder elicitation questions, various practice aids, and benchmarking tools, plus extensive online training videos from industry expert Karl Wiegers. The ‘Coach’ also uses APQC’s Process Classification Framework as the taxonomy to organize the example requirements, stakeholder elicitation questions, and best practice guides by business process. Championship teams most often succeed because they have a strong coach. You can boost your project team’s quest for success with the Requirement Coach on your roster.

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