Introducing Data Flow Diagrams (DFDs) for the Business

Lesson 1.1 of the eCourse “Data Flow Diagrams — Simply Put!” View the full course overview and outline at
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DESCRIPTION (lesson 1.1)
In this course, co-author and instructor Tom Hathaway presents an overview including the scope and purpose of the course “Data Flow Diagrams – Simply Put!” and introduces the learning objectives.

In this course you will learn process modeling techniques for Requirements Elicitation and Workflow Analysis. Understand and create Data Flow Diagrams (DFDs), Context-level DFDs, and Rigorous Physical Process Models (RPPM). Learn what they are, why they are important, and who can use them.

Getting from someone’s explanations of how they do their job to usable and accurate workflow descriptions can be a daunting proposition. This course uses a concrete business scenario to present a simple, easy-to-learn approach for creating these diagrams from an interview with a Subject Matter Expert (SME). You will learn how to create a Rigorous Physical Process Model, evolve it to a Context-Level Data Flow Diagram, and explode the context-level process(es) and data to reveal the nitty-gritty detail (individual process specifications and detailed data specifications) that developers need.

In the course, we will present the Who, the What, the When, the Where, the Why, and the How of creating pictures of business processes or workflows. If you are ever responsible for analyzing workflows to identify disconnects or discrepancies, data flow diagramming will help you tremendously. It is a fairly simple idea, it gives you a lot of information on how to look at business processes in a different way.

In addition, you will learn the benefits of process visualization for the business community, for the one wearing the BA hat, for those tasked with developing the solution, and ultimately for the entire organization. You will also discover how powerful DFDs are as tools for recognizing and eliminating two of the major problems that haunt IT projects, namely Scope Creep and Project Overruns caused by late project change requests.

This course answers the following questions:
• What is a Data Flow Diagram (DFD)?
• What is a Rigorous Physical Process Model?
• What is a Context-Level DFD?
• Why should I use Data Flow Diagrams?
• What symbols can I use on each type of diagram?
• How can I drill down into a process?
• How can I show internal processes and flows that produce the results?
• What does balancing a Data Flow Diagram mean and what is the business value?
• What is the most efficient approach to balancing a DFD?
• What business value do process specifications offer?
• How can I express detailed specifications for processes and data?
• What is “metadata” and why do you need it?
• What does a fully balanced DFD look like?
• What value does a DFD fragment provide?

The course covers the following learning objectives:

• Document existing business processes and workflows in Data Flow Diagrams (DFD) to initiate business process analysis
• Defend the need for Data Flow Diagrams, Context Diagrams, and Rigorous Physical Process Models
• Use the right symbols for each type of diagram to ensure a common interpretation by all parties
• Explode a high level Data Flow Diagram to its lower level details to reveal underlying processes and procedures
• Balance DFD’s to identify missing processes and reduce late project change requests
• Use Horizontal Balancing to discover missing data and minimize redundancies
• Document process specifications for functional primitives to guide the solution providers
• Express metadata to reveal informational details that developers need to build the solution

The authors of this course, Tom and Angela Hathaway, have authored numerous courses and delivered them to students around the world. Based on their experience, they feel very strongly that these techniques that they use in their business analysis endeavors should be available to anyone, anytime, anywhere on the planet.

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If you are tasked with defining the user requirements for an IT Solution, find more business analysis training in the Business Analysis Learning Store at

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