Improving Business Processes with draw.io

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2017-08-30T12:55:29+00:00 April 20th, 2017|draw.io|

There are many workflows in every company and in every industry that can be optimized. It is easier to see areas where a process can be improved when you illustrate the existing process with a diagram.

We understand things better and faster in diagram form, so it makes sense to use diagrams when trying to find problems with business processes and procedures.

It is important for everyone to have access to diagramming tools – everyone can help to optimize the processes that they use or must follow in their day-to-day work.

draw.io - BPMN swimlane diagram for the current translation process

A BPMN diagram for the current translation process, created in draw.io. View this diagram in draw.io.

Optimizing our translation process

Since joining //SEIBERT/MEDIA, I’ve wanted to improve upon the existing translation process. It’s a difficult task to do in text – people don’t want to read through instructions. I am not a graphic artist, but I do have access to draw.io within the company’s Confluence intranet. I thought that this was an excellent chance to get more familiar with draw.io and make my case for improving the translation process – two birds with one stone!

I chose a BPMN diagram, as there were two separate process flows – one for the original language and the other for the target language. This type of diagram illustrated the two workflows more clearly than a flow chart.

Use a draw.io template as an example

draw.io made this easy because it had existing templates, which I could modify quickly to finish my diagrams.

Create a new draw.io diagram: When editing a page in Confluence, insert the draw.io macro, or simply type {draw and press Enter. Select the Business category under draw.io Templates to see BPMN and other diagrams commonly used to illustrate processes.

draw.io - Business diagram templates

I chose a BpmnS template, because I had two clearly defined processes I wanted to illustrate, and I wanted to be able to visibly highlight the steps that we could optimize.

Select the type of diagram you want to use, and click Copy. A new copy of the diagram will be opened in the editor.

The symbol library in draw.io makes it easy

For BPMN diagrams, there are three categories of shapes that are useful in the symbol library in the left-hand panel. Read our getting started guide for more information on using shapes and modifying diagrams.

drawio - BPMN swimlane diagram and shape library

In draw.io, the BPMN shapes are arranged into three categories in the symbol library.

Highlight with the format panel

Once I had finished modifying the template to represent the existing translation process, I used the format panel on the right-hand side to highlight the steps that we could remove or optimize.

draw.io - Format panel options

The format panel options in draw.io change depending on what is selected.

It was clear to see that most of the steps that weren’t needed, or needed to be modified were at the beginning of the process. Some of these could be integrated into the workflow for creating content in the original language, instead of the translator constantly checking if there is new content that needed to be translated somewhere.

drawio - BPMN diagram of the translation process with optimizable steps highlighted

Optimizable steps are highlighted in the BPMN diagram of the existing translation process. View this diagram in draw.io.

Use multi-page diagrams

To keep these three diagrams together, I used a multi-page diagram. That means, if I want to update the process again, I don’t have to open and edit three separate files. Plus, everyone can print the three diagrams from the one file, instead of printing each individually.

I wanted to make this as painless as possible for my boss to say they loved the proposed new translation process!

drawio - Use multi-page diagrams to keep related diagrams together

Use multi-page diagrams to keep related diagrams together in draw.io.

To add extra pages to a diagram, use the tabs and the plus symbol (+) at the bottom of the draw.io editor.

I’ve added notification steps to speed up the translation process, and to make sure new content isn’t overlooked. The proposed improved translation process looks much simpler and shorter!

drawio - BPMN swimlane diagram of the improved translation process

A BPMN diagram of the improved translation process (proposed!) View this diagram in draw.io.

Now when someone hovers over the diagram in the Confluence page, they can step through each page of the diagram easily, and without having to open draw.io’s editor.

draw.io - Viewing multi-page diagrams in Confluence

Use the arrows to step through the pages in a multi-page diagram in Confluence.

Many types of diagrams can be used to document processes

BPMN diagrams are just one of many different templates that can be used to document processes and workflows. Here is a selection of templates in draw.io that can be used to help you improve your business and software development processes:

  • BPMN (Business Process Model and Notation)
  • Flowcharts
  • Workflows
  • Gantt charts
  • UML activity diagrams

Need some help?

Do you want help getting started? We’ve written a guide for draw.io and diagramming beginners with plenty of screenshots, easy instructions and videos to get you up and running in no time. These introductory draw.io cheat sheets are great to keep by your side too! We also have a growing collection of user documentation catering to all levels of experience.

To create the BPMN diagram of the translation process, I found the tutorial and examples by Camunda invaluable, because I had no prior experience with this notation.

You can view the full diagram to improve our translation process in draw.io online.

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