Rarely do I get excited about books on workflow modeling. I have a few good books on the subject, all of which provide solid approaches and most of which are well written. This book stands out because it goes beyond merely "solid" or "well written" by giving one of the most comprehensive approaches to workflow modeling I've had the pleasure of reading.
First, like most books on the topic, none of the components of the approach are new. What makes the approach refreshing is the way the authors take standard techniques and tie them together into a coherent process. Second, this book can be used as a workbook during a workflow modeling project, and is well suited to this because of the numerous checklists and diagrams that will prove invaluable every step of the way. Finally, this is the first book of its kind that incorporates use cases, making it invaluable to project teams that have standardized on UML (Unified Modeling Language)or wish to integrate an object-oriented approach into a workflow modeling project. If you're not familiar with use cases I strongly recommend Writing Effective Use Cases by Alistar Cockburn (the best book on the subject in my opinion); UML Distilled by Fowler and Scott is an excellent introduction to that subject if it's new to you.
The approach is straightforward: frame the process and define its scope, understand the existing process (if there is one), design the "to-be" process and develop use case scenarios. I wish to offer one caveat at this point: if you are reengineering a process that is seriously broken you might consider skipping the "as-is" process. Understanding the existing process is useful if your goal is incremental improvement. Reengineering efforts usually radically transform existing processes, making efforts to understand them both moot and wasted.
Some of the highlights of this book include the authors' clear definitions and way of decomposing complex systems into discrete steps and components. For example, they use a five tier view of processes that ensures you have a complete view of all issues and factors. The views are: (1) mission, strategy and goals (I personally extend goals further into Goal-Question-Metric), (2)business processes, (3) presentation, (4) application logic and (5) data. Note that the last three align nicely to a 3-tier client/server architecture. This observation clearly shows how coherent the authors' approach is and how it can foster alignment of technology to business requirements.
I also like how the authors clarify the key issues in process design by pointing out six enablers that you need to account for during the analysis and design phase: (1)workflow, (2) technology, (3) human resources, (4) motivations and measurements, (5) policies and rules and (6) environmental constraints (facilities, external process capabilities, etc.). There is one minor point of disagreement I have between their workflow modeling technique and the one I use. The authors use swimlane diagrams (also called Rummler-Brache diagrams), while I use deployment diagrams. The difference? Swimlane diagrams do not capture phases or cycles. I always place workflows into the context of Entry Criteria-Task-Validation-Exit Criteria (ETVX), which is nearly identical to the TQM Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle. I insist on ETVX because it allows me to spot missing validation points in an existing workflow, and ensures that I clearly define entry and exit criteria, as well as validation points in a "to-be" workflow. Of course I am stating personal preferences - following the authors' approach verbatim will definitely result in a workflow design that is not only "bulletproof", but will align information systems and business process almost perfectly.
This book is a gem. It's readable, full of ideas and, with the incorporation of use cases into the approach, completely up-to-date with respect to IS/IT methodologies. If you want a fresh, modern approach to workflow design this book is the only one that will provide it.