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13 questions you should ask your client during BPM Requirements meeting

Submitted by swetaanand on Sun, 2011-10-16 14:21

For workflow based projects Business requirements discussions normally span across multiple meetings where you ask more and more about Client's AS-IS and TO-BE processes. Some questions could help you determine if the chosen BPMS can achieve expected functionality. Given below are some questions that can help you get what you are looking for:


1. What is the process and what does it achieve?

This question will help you get introduces to the process. Asking what it achieves will help you get the reason why this process exists. It will also help you understand how critical is this process for business.


2. How does the current process (AS-IS) work?

This will be more detailed analysis possibly accompanied with a flowchart. If one does not exist, this is a good time to pick up a pen and start drawing.


3. Who are the participants in the process and what are their roles?

This will get you the roles and responsibilities. This will also help you in assigning performers to various steps. Also find out how would you find out (logically) who are the people who will be in this role. Most probably client will have LDAP or some other System from where you can lookup. There is also a possibility that you might need to lookup some other application or maintain the rules with you.


4. Which business units participate in the process?

This will help you understand who all will be the stakeholders and how complex it will be to design the process. The general rule is that if there are more units, the more complex the process will be and the more effort you (and client project team) will spend bringing everyone to a common accepted stage.


5. What will be the TO-BE Processes?

Now you start asking questions about what needs to be built. Ask them what they envision as the ideal process and then start drilling into finer details.


6. How does the process start and end?

This is very important. Sometimes you will realise that people are not sure how the process should end. They know just their part of the process. Also, make sure you ask the question whether the process can be reopened. This is essential because not all BPMS allow this.


7. What information flows from one person to another?

This will help you determine what the screen and data fields should be. Sometimes you could be dealing with complex sets of data. Do ask questions. If the data needs to be pulled from somewhere, do ask about the integration capabilities of that system or try to get a contact who can give you that details.


8. Which systems will this process interact with?

Find out what level of integrations are you looking for. Most of the business process will be integrated with some or the other systems. Sometimes integrations could lead to complex processes, screens and routing.


9. Are there any business rules associated with the process?

Ask what business rules are there. Also ask how often do they change. This will help you determine if rules should be embedded into the process or put in as a separate component.


10. What are your reporting requirements?

Your data layouts, your process routing could depend upon what reporting requirements are there. If user needs reports business unit wise or region wise, you will need to incorporate those fields into your workflow.


11. What existing forms/reports and documents do you have?

Get all the documents you can. This will help you in the overall project implementation.


12. What are your implementation timelines and constraints?

Determine what are the timelines and constraints (if any). Its possible that the client asks you the question “when can I have this?”. Be sure you keep it open. Unless your implementation team has analyzed everything do not  give an estimate. Determine what constraints client has and figure out how the project can still go through.


Sweta Anand
Business Process Analyst with experience in Investment Banking, Customer Support and operations. Has done Process documentation and standardization for several organizations
Ron Wand's picture

13 questions you should ask your client during BPM Requirements

Sweta....Good article and good insights.....
What do you mean by LDAP? Do you mean, Lightweight Directory Access Protocol? Why?
What do you mean by this in Numeral 6: "Also, make sure you ask the question that can the process be reopened. This is essential because not all BPMS allow this."
Thanks for those insights

swetaanand's picture

Good Question

Hi Ron,
Yes LDAP for Light Weight Directory Access protocol. Several companies use LDAP for managing their User Access and group management. Role mappings like "Account Openers", "New York Trade Support group" etc could be defined as groups in your firmwide directory and your application can look it up from there. Sometime organizations could have complex mappings like only these 4 people are authorized to open an account for MNO Company. In such cases your lookup logic becomes more complicated and make your process efforts higher
For 6, Imagine  case of Customer issue resolution which got addressed and the case closed. The customer calls up after 2 weeks saying the issue is still there. Now what will you do - reopen the original case or would you create a new case. Some BPMS tools do not allow reopening of CLOSED cases. You might leave the case open in some  RESOLVED case for a couple of week before closing it completely. Making this requirement clear in the begining can be very helpful.
Hope these answer your questions. Comments are welcome.

Anindita's picture

Some more questions

Few comments I have here:
Firstly we must be clear from the client why they want a process improvement. This does not mean that they are correct but it is a good indicator. Most of the time the reason revolves around cost and multiple handling or even accountability. Linking cost to the process will determine benefits.
We must understand how accountability is identified at each point of the process and that there are sufficient reports available
Most important not to go into solution mode until a complete analysis is complete but fine to look out for quick wins to get a buy-in from the client

sudarsan maddur's picture

13 quetions you should ask your client during BPM

Excellent article.
Can you please clarify the following;
1 ) How to incorporate the project scope, in the BPM questionnaire ? 
2 ) What documents to share with the stakeholders before interviewing them ?

Balajimnp's picture

Sweta - BPM questions

Hi Sweta
Good thinking, I would like to ask a question
As per my understanding workflow was subset of the BPM.
You are  concentrating the implementaion of BPM, But i would like to suggest "what is value
they are expect after the implementation of BPM"
am i right Sweta.

swetaanand's picture

Its definitely a question

Hi, The question "what is value they are expect after the implementation of BPM" is definitely one of the right questions. However, this is something which should be asked way before starting the requirements. The focus of this article is mainly on implementation. And Yes Workflow is a part of BPM. The article deals with process which in simple terms could be called a workflow. However the Business process might involve more moving parts.

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