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High-qualily models vs. low-quality models

Any business analyst who uses a computer can create a process flow. They have the tools. They know what a process flow is. So creating a process flow must be simple, right? Most people think they can do a passable job of creating visual models themselves, without training or assistance. While they typically are able to create them, the result is often a low-quality model.

We’ve all been on the receiving end of this. Someone will tell us that our new project has already had some models completed, so that should make our job easier. Then we see the models and they confuse us even more. They have inconsistent use of symbols, they contain different levels of information all on the same page, and they even have completely different types of information on the same model. Sometimes you will need to completely start from scratch and create a new model. Other times, you can use the existing model as a ‘straw man’ to elicit a better model.

In short, high-quality models are much more valuable than low-quality models. In fact, sometimes low-quality models cause more confusion and explanation than would occur without any models at all. Therefore, it is critical that you demand creation of high-quality models, even if a low-quality model already exists. Some product managers are happy just to “have a process flow” without regard to the quality of the flow.  If the process flow is not achieving the benefits expected from a process flow, clarity and understanding, then you need to re-do it.

There are two ways to rectify the situation. One is to re-do the model yourself. The other is to train others how to properly create models. This can be done through research, peer review, visual models books or through business analyst training. Increasing the number of people on your team capable of producing high-quality models is the only long term way to ensure more high-quality models will be produced.

In the end, simply realize that “having a model” is not enough. You need a high-quality model if you want to experience the benefits that visual models provide.

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