Process DocumentationDr. Zubeeda QuraishyDept of InformaticsUniversity of Oslo, Norway
This session provides a practical approach to managing and preparing the documentation necessary for implementing any system
What is Process Documentation?The term was first used in 1978 to refer to a pilot project in Phillippines.
In this project full time social scientists stayed in project villages and made detailed observations and documented the process of user group (farmers) formation and functioning
Basic Objective of Process DocumentationTo learn from implementation experience and in the light of this modify the strategy and ultimately, policy(Mosse,1998)
(Ref:Mosse, David,1998,Process documentation research and process monitoring, in David Mosse, John Fennigton and Alan Rew (Eds) Development as Process: Concepts and Methods for working with Complexity, London: Routledge, pp 31-53).
Process Documentation ResearchProcess Documentation Research done in several countries and different context shows that it is used more in developing greater capacities for managing local resources. In fact PDR is not considered a monitoring device alone, but rather as a means to develop local communitys capability to plan and build institutions to solve the local problems in areas/sectors where programme expansions are planned.Among the different mechanisms used PD is the most intensive among them.
ProcessDefination and ImplementationOrganization Processes should aim to deliver the objectives of the organization.Process Definition initiation starts with understanding the objectives of the organization, mapping the existing processes and then working towards closing the gaps that may exist.For ex, need for a situation analysis before implementing any systems development or doing action research (FHIMS in Andhra Pradesh)
Process ImplementationA jointly approved Action Plan is defined with Priorities, Considerations and Constraints pertaining to the organization. Processes are designed to meet the organization's Objectives. Automation tools are incorporated into the processes wherever appropriate. Process Training and facilitation form a part of the mandate.
Process ImplementationThe Process Implementation follows with detailed process design, pilot implementation, refinement and stabilization. Typically, association with the collaborators would continue for a period such that all teams have institutionalized their processes.The Internal Quality Assessment and evaluation by external agencies can continue subsequently.
Why Process Documentation?Most of the process-oriented methodologies are meant to record programmes as they occur and feed the information back to managers, other researchers, policy makers to help them in understanding the working of the project better.However there are several other purposes, equally important, for which processes are sought and they are
Need for Process InformationUsed by agencies undertaking new and complex forms as part of expansion of programmes, which need understanding about stakeholder participation.
Such information is often needed to validate the approach / programme and consequent policy formation.
Use of Process InformationSuch information in the context of inter agency collaboration(ex. Govt NGO and community) can help determine the conditions necessary for effective collaboration and performance.
Process monitoring is used to construct institutional ethnography.
Process monitoring helps provide a framework for negotiating meanings, agreements, and validating approaches and resolving differences between all the component units of the programme.
Use of Process Information Anyone developing or working towards creating any software is responsible for managing, creating and maintaining software process and quality system related documentation (e.g., process/quality policies, procedures, forms, etc.)
Process Documentation IT Sector
Among many unappealing tasks(attending late night calls, last minute changes to schedule, unreasonable customer requests) of IT professionals one of them is Process Documentation.
Importance of Process DocumentationAn important aspect of any process is the documentation that accompanies it,(such as logging trouble calls, requesting system changes, or executing disaster recovery plans). Many organisations or IT companies develop excellent processes but fail to document them adequately. After an initially successful implementation of the process, many of these procedures go unused due to lack of documentation, particularly as new staff members who are unfamiliar with the process attempt to use it.
Why Actively Manage the Processes?methodical Process Management can identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies that are invisible to the organizationand it can find room for improvement even in well-refined procedures.
Proactively managing the processes can help organisation toEliminate flawsReduce the time spent on a specific tasksDecrease costsDecrease resources associated with any taskImprove efficiencyImprove overall qualityIncrease customer and employee satisfaction
Proactively managing the processes can help organisation to
Very few techniques are available to quantify the quality and value of Process Documentation.
Importance of Evaluating the Quality of Process DocumentationIn IT sectors and in other organisations where the use of processes is essentialThe purpose of evaluating the quality of content is important:a.) to show to what degree the material is suitable for use.b) to show how important the documentation is to the support of the process and how important the process is to the support of the business. The quality of the content of documentation is evaluated with 10 common characteristics of usability:
Characteristics Denoting Quality Attributes of Process Documentation
Ownership. This characteristic rates the degree to which the three key ownership rolesprocess owner, documentation custodian, and technical writerare clearly identified, understood, and supported. For some processes, the same individual may have all three roles.
(Contd..) Characteristics Denoting Quality Attributes of Process Documentation Readability :This characteristic rates the clarity and simplicity of the written documentation . The above characteristic especially looks at how well the level of the material matches the skill and experience level of the audience.
(Contd..) Characteristics ...
Accuracy. This characteristic rates the technical accuracy of the material.
(Contd..) Characteristics .
Format: rates the overall organization of the material; how easy it is to follow; how well it keeps a consistent level of technical depth; and to what degree it documents and describes an actual process rather than merely duplicating tables, spreadsheets, and metrics.
(Contd..) Characteristics ...
Accessibility : rates the ease or difficulty of accessibility.
Currency : rates to what degree the current version of the documentation is up to date and the frequency with which it's kept current.
(Contd..) Characteristics ...
Ease of update : rates the relative ease or difficulty with which the documentation can be updated, including revision dates and distribution of new versions.
(Contd..) Characteristics.Effectiveness: rates the overall usability of the documentation, including the use of appropriate examples, graphics, color coding, use on multiple platforms, and compliance with existing standards (if available).Accountability: rates to what degree the documentation is being read, understood, and effectively used; all appropriate users are identified and held accountable for proper use of the documentation.
The value of the documentation to the environment for which it was intended is evaluated using five common characteristicsCriticality of the process: Describes how critical is the process described by this documentation to the success of the organisation or business of the company.Frequency of use: Describes how frequently the documentation is used or referenced.Number of users: Describes the approximate number of personnel who will likely want or need to use this documentation.
The value of the documentation to the environment for which it was intended is evaluated using five common characteristicsVariety of users: This characteristic describes the variety of different functional areas or skill levels of personnel who will likely use this documentation.
Impact of non-use: Describes the level of adverse impact that's likely to occur if the documentation is not used properly.
Different Approaches to Understand ProcessField-level activitiesMeetingsNegotiationsDecision-takenPlanningImplementation of decisionsResolution of differences
Methodology for Documenting the ProcessUse of existing documentary materialRecordsStructured interviewsCase studiesReconstruction of eventsField-diaries of project staffVideo-and audio recordingsNewspaper clippingsSoftware developmentParticipant observation of users**None of the above methods are new in themselves in the social science methodology, but what is new is the use to which they are put. (Refer PD of HISP implemented in India)
In essence Process documentation means and involvesContinuous information gathering over a period of the programme / project.
Orientation to the present-What is happening right now.
Monitoring which is action oriented in the sense that it is directed towards participants who are in a position to read and take immediate action.
In essence Process documentation means and involves
The monitoring is inductive and open-ended thus broadening the frame of reference. Thus, the process information completely breaks away from the general image of development projects / programmes as closed, static, predictable and controllable tech-rational systems(Mosse,1998:11).
Learn how to design, write and organize your documentation to best suit your organisation or work
various documentation structures and access medium can be used.
How to pay particular attention to managing and controlling the outcome of your documentation efforts (the documentation authorities, distribution, amendments, identification,...).
Ideas that evolve from the documentation and maintaining its alignment with changing needs should be paid attention.
Points to note in Developing a Process DocumenatationDevelop an action plan to manage the creation of a policy and process documentation system that effectively prescribes action and expedites efforts Design a documentation structure suited to your business needs and organizational size. Analyze the potential of process documentation verses training material.
Points to note in Developing a Process DocumenatationLearn various ways to organize and express your organisations goals or companys expectations; for example, your company's quality policy statement (re: ISO 9001), operational policies.(The ISO organization was established by European countries as a way to certify the quality control systems of companies across international boundaries) Examine the merits of various structures and styles to compose/access both policy and process documentation (e.g., procedures and their job aids). Discover the key criteria to keeping it simple.