Point of Beginning

The Data Czar: Diagramming Your Processes

June 23, 2009
Once you have a thorough understanding of your user data needs, the next step is to begin mapping the major workflow process in your organization from beginning to end. To build efficient and timeless processes, data must flow smoothly from process to process and do so from a single source.



All systems-including geographic information systems-contain individual interrelated processes. The smallest functionality affects the process itself and, as a result, the entire system. Once you have a thorough understanding of your user data needs, the next step is to begin mapping the major workflow process in your organization from beginning to end. A typical surveying and mapping firm can use the acronym STAMP as a starting point:
  • Survey – Capture raw data.
  • Transform – Convert the raw data to features.
  • Analyze – Look for relationships in the data.
  • Map – Display the data.
  • Print – Create a hardcopy of map of the data.
(To me, this is a perfect acronym for GIS. It embraces the core processes involved in the system’s creation and also confers an authoritative certification.)

Begin by drawing a circle around each of the five interior processes. Use direction arrows in between each to indicate the flow of data.

Next, look for other processes that are related to these initial five. Draw circles around each of them as well. Connect these circles to your initial five and indicate the flow of data from one circle to the next by arrows. This stage is purely conceptual, and all software and hardware requirements should be ignored. A diagram such as this one is priceless-it indicates how your organization works and how each process is dependent on the other.

In any system, when you touch one process, all the related processes are affected. As you build out your conceptual diagram, the relationships that appear will help in assigning the appropriate resources.

Remember: To build efficient and timeless processes within your organization, data must flow smoothly from process to process and do so from a single source. If we build better systems from the start, the reality of true integration of data and the relationships that lie within will be awakened.


What do you think? Please post your comments below.

Other posts in this blog:
The Data Czar: Getting Over the Ownership Mentality
The Data Czar: Breaking Down User Data Needs

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