All the insights and information collected after the one-on-one interviews as part of the Assessment process will enable an Agile Coach to create a Process Map which renders a clear understanding of the process as a workflow diagram, something like in the image below.
How to create a Process Map
There are many digital tools available to help you create process maps, but if you want to really understand how it’s done you need to make use of the plain old sticky notes. Start by jotting down the main activities performed by individuals in different roles at the start, middle and the end of an iteration. Name the activity and write down the role that uses it. Avoid going to much in detail as you don’t want lot’s of sticky notes at the beginning.
Use a whiteboard or a clean wall and arrange the sticky notes in the order they were created. Once they are arranged don’t forget to draw the lines connecting the sticky notes to one another showing some kind of relationship between them. Be creative and make loops on the activities which are repeated over time. When you are done you’ll see the team’s usual iteration as a visual timeline. If there are gaps, fill them by breaking the stickies into more detailed activities.
You will now need more information about the Whats and Hows of the Inputs and Outputs of the iterations. What is it that goes in during an iteration and What is it that comes out as a result? Typically it is the User Stories or information about the Requirements and Defects Managements that goes in and what comes out is a Potential Increment or information about the Product Release and Deployment. We also need to take customer support and feedback into account which form the beginning and the end of an iteration and can alter the decisions taken by the team. Customer Support is needed in the beginning while selecting user stories for the iteration and Feedback is needed during the Product Demo.
Nonetheless, even after doing all this hard work it is highly unlikely that your process map is even close to being perfect. This happens because of the empirical nature of the IT projects according to which it is not possible to make an upfront plan without the knowledge that comes from experience over time. So a mid-release Process Map will be missing some of the aspects that require time to become apparent to the team. It’s time to get your Process Map validated.
Use a camera or your phone to take a picture of the completed Process Map and remove all the sticky notes from the white board but don’t lose them. Book another group meeting with the members of the team who have knowledge about the project at a high level. Generally, this group consists of the Development Lead, Project Manager or Scrum Master, Product Manager or his proxy if he is too busy. Book the meeting for at-least an hour. Now repeat the process of creating the Process Map once again explaining each sticky note as you put them on the white board. Don’t forget to state any assumptions if you have made any. Seek their reaction at each step and ask them to validate the steps or correct them if needed. Use red colour markers to record any added details or changes. Those steps or sticky notes which do not match with the group’s knowledge are removed and replaced by new sticky notes just in time. In the end summarize the edited Process Map to catch any last moment miss outs.
Now that you are done getting your Process Map validated, it’s time to show it to the team members you interviewed earlier. This is a part of the Assessment process. Ask the team members to confirm the activities shown in the Process Map and record their reaction. This will help you get more details about certain activities.
Document a summary of the Process Map and email it to the people concerned along with it’s image. Finally post the image and the summary on the company’s wiki for rest of the interested stakeholders.