Business Analyst interview question: Suppose you come work for us and you discover a business process that is undocumented. We ask you to change that. What steps would you take to document a business process?
The first step when seeking to document a business process is to gather information. I can interview stakeholders and business process users. I can also review any written documentation and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) that provide context or explain parts of the process.
The things I would seek to understand include:
- what the overall process is all about in the first place;
- what the major decision points and process flows are;
- the process’s “happy path” (the default flow of the process);
- the organization’s strategic goals and objectives that the business process meets (or should meet but doesn’t);
- what conditions lead up to the need to execute the process;
- what the state of affairs is after the process is finished;
- the exceptions and alternate paths possible under the process; and
- what is broken or doesn’t work well with the process.
The second step when you document a business process is to determine the intended audience. The intended audience will help to determine the level of detail I use for documenting the process. They can also help determine the methods to use for the documentation itself. For example, executives might want a 5-bullet list that just hits the high notes. But a system architect may need a more granular business process model using Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN).
The third step is to determine what standards to apply when you document a business process. The organization may have rules or written standards that dictate how a Business Analyst should go about the documentation process, including the tools to use. It may also have requirements around where and how to store business processes for future use. I would make sure to use those rules and standards in my own work.
The fourth step is to select and use the required tool to begin designing and laying down the process. I could document a bulleted series of steps using Excel or Word. If I am building a Business Process Model I might use a tool like Visio or whatever tool the organization requires. I would include the important decision points, process flows, and exceptions for the level of detail I selected.
The fifth step is to validate the business process documentation with stakeholders and process users. I would walk through each step of the documentation, including exceptions and conditions. Since the first version of the documentation probably won’t be 100% correct, I would take the feedback and improve the documentation further. This step would repeat iteratively until all stakeholders and process users are satisfied that the documentation is complete and accurate.
Once complete, I would store the documentation in the appropriate repository. When necessary I would add documentation regarding how the process needs to improve in the future. I would use this documentation as the basis for future requirements to enhance the business process.
How would you answer an interview question about how to document a business process? Leave your thoughts in the comments!