Friday, 10 August 2007

Book Review – Process Mapping, Process Improvement and Process Management

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Process Mapping, Process Improvement and Process Management


by Dan Madison

Edition: Paperback

Price: $26.95


At first glance this would appear to be another "me too" title, and while in some ways that may be true. However there are a couple of things that set this book apart and mean that it can be of value to those experienced in process improvement as well as those new to the subject.

For anyone new to the subject I would say that reading as many books as you can, even if they appear at first glance to overlap is a good thing. You will need to find an angle and perspective that works for you and it is only through distilling the thoughts from a number of sources that you can achieve this.

From a reading perspective this book is well written and easy to digest. It is also very applicable to any type of process related improvement project and so should have broad appeal. The book proposes a 10 step method for improvement which I can't really comment on (s within the BPMG we have an eight stage approach that we suggest to people)

For me the most important part of this book is the 38 design principles that Dan lists in the appendix. These provide great value and can act as a great check list on any project to ensure you get the maximum value from a project. Checklists are something else I found useful in the book, Dan provides a great many work sheets and check lists, all of which can be put to use quickly with the aid of the clear explanations he provides. In my opinion the check lists, work sheets and design principles alone will justify the cost of purchasing the book.

Particularly useful is the section on the "lenses of analysis" - this helps the user to remind themselves of what problem they are actually trying to solve. A great way of ensuring that analysts remain focused on the business problem at hand. (Of course it may just be that I am biased, based on the fact that we teach some similar principles within BPMG courses)

It has to be said that there were a couple of things that I did not like in the book (and have already communicated these thoughts to the author personally). I did not feel that the chapters provided by the guest authors really added to the good work in earlier chapters written by Dan himself. Although the chapter on organizational issues talks of an important aspect of change and provides some useful information, I felt the style was just different. In particular the chapter on simulation is too much geared around one particular modeling tool vendor and I did not think it did the complex subject of simulation justice - I would much have preferred to have seen a tool neutral discussion on the relative merits (and costs) of undertaking simulation, and of the different approaches to simulation. Simulation is a much misunderstood topic and one which would well have benefited from a proper airing in this context.

As with all books on process that I review I suggest that the reader puts aside the particular notation suggested by an author (the issue of notation is too emotional) and instead focuses on the ideas presented and uses them to enhance whatever approach they currently use.

In summary I would suggest that this is a good book for anyone involved in any kind of process improvement project. It will provide a good introduction for those new to the discipline of analysis and design. While acting as a useful refresher for those with more experience.

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