Mapping processes

Last year I was given access to the central repository at work for diagramming processes. Unfortunately at the time I also got slightly busy and it was just before we went on leave for the year, several months later, that I would get time to again look at things. External consultants had prepared our original diagrams in 2015, prior to adopting a formal standard for process diagramming, thus all the original diagrams are now needing updating – just 140 diagrams that is.

Today I took a diagram that had been prepared by a member of our own team to reflect whether a category of output would be accepted, sent for review, or rejected. His process was simple and effective when not in the EPC standard as it was able to use decision shapes. When I went to re-diagram this process to the EPC standard it became more than twice its previous size as I was forced to rely upon XOR or AND logic and events. Whilst I am very much the EPC virgin, and am yet to see if my efforts on this one are correct, I think the resulting diagram is actually quite easy to read and follow (excluding knowledge of XOR for non-techies!).

I was particularly stoked with the updates applied today to Visio and Orbus iServer, previously when diagramming and trying to used connectors I don’t know what the heck they’d done but they just refused to play ball, but following today’s upgrade all is FINALLY going smoothly.


What a week

It has been a busy week in this party of one.

Last week I was told I would be working on refreshing the Research Ethics manuals that are currently under review. My part involves redesigning and making these manuals look fresh, they’ve licensed similar manuals from another university and wanted to use these as a basis for improving our own. The source documents are particularly wordy, especially the comment insert boxes which I think are over-the-top wordy. I sent through an initial design for the first document on day one just hoping for some feedback, little did I expect glowing feedback and no requests for changes, does this ever happen?

The most challenging issue I have with these documents, apparently there will be 46 in total, is that they will all interlink, and will be PDF’d. I did an initial test after creating the second document the following day, queue alarm bells, it just didn’t work within Microsoft Word, the links were trying to call the word documents and in specific locations. Perhaps it is my lack of knowledge within this area, I don’t typically need to do such things. Another annoyance was how the footer was behaving, on some pages text would but up against, on others there would be a decent gap, it was bugging me on so many levels.

I decided today I would move to InDesign and see how this application handled interlinking, I knew for sure I was not going to have the footer issues. It took me hours to get my document in, build the hyperlinks up, and get the commentary boxes in place; it is certainly nowhere near as fast to get the document to the same state as it was in Word, but the look is far better for the extra effort. I now need to prepare the second document to allow me to check linking between the two and InDesign performs – CROSSING FINGERS!

I met this afternoon with representatives of our IT department to discuss process mapping I’d been working on recently within our department. I’ve worked within Visio for a few years, however I’ve always done so without any formal training, they will be training me to work to their formal EPC specifications and storing the diagrams within their server. All is still created within Visio, however to a formal structure with naming conventions to maintain consistency across diagrams. Some of the diagrams we have outside of their system are highly detailed and difficult to read when scaled to fit an A3 page, I noticed they mentioned breaking down but it will be interesting to see how they go about this – will be appreciated by all the ability to read once more.

Been a bit of tiring week too, worked a 14 hour day Wednesday between work, then working at home for one of the schools on their website… utterly exhausted after that one, slept like a log. I am grateful for the weekend now and chance of a sleep-in. Thank heavens is winter and sun not rising early right now! Enjoy the weekend, I shall, not raining – woot!

Flowcharting with Visio

On Thursday afternoon I had one of the managers suggest we may need to amend our out-of-process workflow , of course this is something my supervisor would be responsible for, but he’s away in the UK till late January. I only knew of the workflow, just none of the details. 

To familiarise myself I thought I’d map the workflow in Visio as I had recently done for a few other workflows. As I set pen to paper I quickly came to understand this OOP workflow was not as small at the others I’d done, it was particularly involved and would have connectors running all over the place. 

Monday morning I sat down to begin diagramming and finalising what I’d started. I’m by no means a Visio expert, far from it, but can make a reasonable-enough diagram. As I began laying things out and this beast grew and grew I truly came to appreciate the application, the ability to move my process boxes around for better flow is so much better than pencil and eraser haha. 

One thing that I really have come to appreciate is the need to learn more about diagramming and even Visio so as to produce higher quality diagrams. What I generated today works but has so many overlaying lines due to complexity I wonder if more experienced diagrammers might produce something far better. 

For now at least I have something that allows me, and others to follow the processes from start to finish depending on how things are awarded and approved, or not.