Project Management

Context Analysis

last edited by: erin decaprio on Oct 2, 2006 5:55 PM login/register to edit this page

Contents
1 Applications
2 Procedures
3 Instructions
4 Example

A technique used to scope a process or an activity within a process. For the process or activity, examine the inputs (starting points), outputs (results or ending conditions), interfaces to other processes or activities, and external agents such as customers, regulators, suppliers, etc.

Applications

To define the scope of a process that is being considered for redesign. This technique can also be used to initiate continuous improvement efforts.

Procedures

  1. Identify the candidate process and produce an initial definition or description.
  2. Consider possible starting points or triggers and identify any inputs required by the process.
  3. Consider possible ending conditions, results, or outputs produced.
  4. Check to see that interfaces to other processes have been included.
  5. Add any external agents which may be relevant.
  6. Confirm process scope and refine the process definition.

Instructions

Typically, in process redesign scenarios, processes are examined that are under-performing in some way or where there are known problems highlighted by management. For example, it may be known that customers complain about the length of time required to receive a claim check from an insurance carrier. This may lead one to conclude that the claims processing or claims management set of activities could be possible candidates for redesign. To determine the context for the process to be redesigned, examine possible starting points. In the example above, an accident may have occurred which triggered the insured to submit a claim. It may be helpful to identify specific inputs required by the process in order to begin execution and/or identifying providers (suppliers) of the inputs. Identify other possible starting points and reach consensus on process beginning.

Alternately, one can begin the scoping by asking questions such as, "What is required to begin this process?" or "What starts this process off?" or "Where does the information come from?" In the example above, it will be important to differentiate whether the claim or the accident was the true starting point. If it is the accident, then the context of the process may include more activities than just "receive claim." The difference will be reflected in where the boundary is drawn between closely associated processes and/or activities.

To determine the ending boundary of the process, identify the main outputs, products, or end results of process completion. Identifying possible receivers (customers) of these outputs will also help determine where the process ends and where the boundary should be drawn. Next, check to ensure that the inputs and the outputs are relatively consistent and makes sense. For example, if the claim being received by the insurance carrier is the primary input, then the output or ending result must include the processing and adjudication of the claim and a response (rejection or payment) back to the insured.

Determining interfaces to other processes can also aid in proper process scoping. Customers, suppliers, regulators, and other "external agents" can be added to complete the description of process scope. Once all factors have been examined, the process description is completed. A context diagram can be drawn to highlight and support the analysis. The following example is one representation. Other activity modeling techniques, such as decomposition and dependency analysis, can be used to supplement the scoping, either as starting points (if available) or as confirmation of the final result (see Activity Modeling, Decomposition, and/or Dependency Analysis). Traditional data flow context diagrams can also be used.

Example

Context Diagram


last edited by: erin decaprio on Oct 2, 2006 5:55 PM login/register to edit this page


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