Back from our information safari, its time to munge (that’s a technical term) through the end-users naratives(stories), legacy systems information (relics), and our own notes (journals) collected along the way in hopes of piecing the truth together. Not just any truth, no we need to find a version of the truth that is both universally acceptable across the enterprise and internally consistent. No one item is likely to be complete. Most represent a single instance of a small portion of the broad enterprise. Taken together we still won’t have a complete picture. We can however knit together the parts that fit, extrapolate a few more, and apply our best estimate as to what might fill in the remaining empty spaces.
Let’s do a little walk-thru of the spoils.
The largest collection may well be user stories. I love these. I have yet to meet an environment where everyone from upper management to line worker wasn’t delighted to tell stories about what they do every day. I am careful to refer to these as stories. Poetic license is expected and encouraged. We need to get the flavor of the activities, the politics, and the priorities, along with the tasks and their steps. Everything, from the monthly birthday parties to the distribution of paychecks conveys something worth getting into. If nothing else, there is also a tremendous amount of good will gained by simply giving your time and listening to others. Earn it now, you will need it later. These stories can be characterized as incomplete static and dynamic views with easily attributable sources.
Next we have the relics. When discussing the day to day goings on in an organization people tend to refer to things; phone books, manuals, memos, etc … when ever possible I ask for a access to or a copy of “it”. The good news is placed in the context provided by the source, there is a tremendous amount of information in relics. The bad news is that you are duty bound to read everything you get. It is insulting to your source to get a relic only to bury it without review … read often, read fast, take good notes. Relics frequently provide static views and doctrine. There are definitive but may well be widely ignored in the real world. It’s up to you to decide which is right.
Journals are tricky. These are your notes. Mine tend toward seemingly endless pages of nearly illegible scratching. Partial sentences interspersed with the odd doodle. Sometimes there are drawings made by the person I’m talking to in a generally futile effort to get me to understand the relationship of process A to process D. Or was that a B? The point is, you need to review, edit, and generally translate your notes often. Daily works for me. If too much time passes you will likely loose some of the original fidelity. I like to capture quotes when possible but I find a lot of my notes are really odd abuses of the Unified Modeling Language (UML).