Data Flow Diagrams - Simply Put!
4.2 (258 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
1,851 students enrolled

Data Flow Diagrams - Simply Put!

Process Modeling Techniques for Requirements Elicitation and Workflow Analysis
4.2 (258 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
1,851 students enrolled
Last updated 3/2019
English [Auto-generated]
Current price: $12.99 Original price: $34.99 Discount: 63% off
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This course includes
  • 1.5 hours on-demand video
  • 1 article
  • 3 downloadable resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • 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
  • No technical background required
  • Need to express functional requirements
  • Desire to understand one or more workflows / business processes
  • Interest in the field of business analysis
  • No additional materials are required
  • The course has no prerequisites

Learn about Data Flow Diagrams (DFDs), Context-level DFDs, and Rigorous Physical Process Models (RPPM), what they are, why they are important, and who can use them.

Use Data Flow Diagrams to Visualize Workflows

Getting from someone's explanations of how they do their job to usable and accurate workflow descriptions can be a daunting proposition. Understanding current workflows, however, is critical to defining a future IT solution. Just as critical is understanding how data is created and consumed throughout the workflow.

To truly understand problems inherent in a business process or workflow, you need to help the practitioners visualize what they do. Visualization lets them identify better ways of working that remove current restrictions.

Data Flow Diagrams are phenomenal tools for visualization. Working with business experts, you can help them identify problems and inefficiencies they don’t even know they have. These are not people problems; they are process problems. Understanding when and how to create and use Data Flow Diagrams will help you discover and capture the requirements for improving the use of information technology.

Why Should You Take this Course?

In this 90 minute video course, 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 DFDs are powerful 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.

“Data Flow Diagrams – Simply Put!” uses a concrete business scenario to present a simple, easy-to-learn approach for creating and using Data Flow Diagrams depicting workflow and data manipulation from interviews with Subject Matter Experts.

You will learn how to create a Context-Level Data Flow Diagram and explode relevant process(es) to reveal the nitty-gritty detail (i.e., individual process and data specifications) that developers need to create IT solutions that the business community needs.

The 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?

Regardless of your job title or role, if you are tasked with communicating a workflow or functional requirements to others, this course is for you.

Who this course is for:
  • Business Analysts
  • Subject Matter Experts
  • Agile Product Owners
  • Project Leaders and Managers
  • Line Managers
  • Systems Analysts
  • Software Testers
  • Business Architects
  • AND "anyone wearing the business analysis hat"
Course content
Expand all 19 lectures 01:41:08
+ Introducing Data Flow Diagrams (DFDs) for the Business
3 lectures 11:47

Co-author Tom Hathaway presents an overview including the scope and purpose of the course "Data Flow Diagrams Simply Put!" and introduces the learning objectives. He also explains why he and his co-author Angela Hathaway are uniquely qualified for delivering this content.

Preview 05:01

A Data Flow Diagram (DFD) is a phenomenal tool for presenting and analyzing business processes by studying how business data is created, consumed, stored, and transported. This lecture describes the purpose and use of business Data Flow Diagrams (DFDs). At the end of this lecture you will understand how DFDs are an excellent tool for identifying Stakeholder, Functional, and Data Requirements.

Preview 04:18

Use a Data Flow Diagram to represent the current workflow and easily recognize disconnects. Comparing an "as-is" DFD with a proposed "to-be" DFD facilitates Gap Analysis. You can create a DFD for many reasons but the main purpose is to have a visual representation of a business process or workflow.

Preview 02:28
+ Modeling the Flow of Material and Data
2 lectures 08:41

A Rigorous Physical Process Model (RPPM) is an easy-to-learn first step into the world of Data Flow Diagramming, Business Process Analysis, and Workflow Analysis. This lecture will address what a Rigorous Physical Process Model is, what it represents, and why you need one.We introduce the simple technique of identifying stakeholders based on sample interview notes from a project sponsor.

Introducing Rigorous Physical Process Models to identify Stakeholders

Creating a Rigorous Physical Process Model is a step by step process based on the analysis of any information you have available (e.g. interview results, procedure manuals, help- facilities, etc). We present this simple concept using the interview notes with identified stakeholders from the previous lecture. The end result will be an easy-to-read RPPM that follows the natural top-to-bottom, left-to-right flow of English-speaking readers.

Drawing an RPPM Using Identified Stakeholders and Interview Notes
+ Visualizing Project Scope
1 lecture 08:59

This lecture explains the difference between a Rigorous Physical Process Model (RPPM) and a Context-Level Data Flow Diagram (DFD). It introduces a simple yet powerful technique for converting any RPPM to a legitimate DFD and explains why this conversion is necessary.

Transforming a Rigorous Physical Process Model into a Context-Level DFD
+ How to Identify the "Right" Internal Processes for a DFD
3 lectures 11:53

An old English idiom states, "The Devil is in the details". A Context DFD presents only the big picture view of your project.This lecture introduces the concept of levelling or exploding individual processes on a Data Flow Diagram to depict increasing levels of detail and explains why this step is critical.

Representing Increasing Levels of Detail Using a DFD

Before you can explode a high-level process, you need to identify the detailed processes that you could use on a lower level Data Flow Diagram. We present a simple business analysis technique for identifying potential internal processes expressed in verb-object format (e.g. Enter Orders, Verify Credit, Ship Goods).

Identifying Candidates for Internal Processes

The technique introduced in the previous lecture can lead to an overwhelming number of candidate processes for a lower level DFD. Ideally, the ensuing diagram should contain 5-9 processes. Here, we present 2 additional simple rules designed to ferret out the "right" processes for inclusion at the next level of detail.

Selecting the Appropriate Processes to Include on the Detailed DFD
+ Drawing a Detail Level DFD
1 lecture 10:32
This lecture introduces a simple approach for exploding or drilling down into a process, explains why you should do it, how to get started, and how to draw the detailed Data Flow Diagram (DFD) with the internal processes, flows, and data stores.
Exploding or Leveling High-Level Processes on a DFD
+ Balancing the Levels Ensures Completeness
2 lectures 11:36

Ensuring that two levels of a Data Flow Diagram are balanced can be a time-consuming process. The payback for this time investment can be the discovery of missing data and processes that could endanger the project. Start by proving that all dataflows at the higher level are addressed at the lower level.

Balancing Data Flows from the Higher to the Lower Level

Once you know that the lower level diagram contains all flows form the higher level, you need to prove that all dataflows entering or leaving the lower level are addressed at the higher level. This step can verify or challenge the scope of your project.

Balancing Data Flows from the Lower to the Higher Level
+ Detailed Process and Data Specifications
2 lectures 13:13

Solution Providers need details at the Functional Primitive level that are not easily expressed using just the symbols of a DFD. This lecture introduces Decision Tables, Structured English, and Business Rules as options for documenting detailed process specifications.

Defining Functional Primitives with the Appropriate Tool or Technique

Beyond process specifications, Solution Providers also need details about the individual Data Elements that are not easily expressed using the symbols of a DFD. This lecture introduces Metadata and provides several examples using a simple spreadsheet for managing metadata.

Capturing Metadata for Critical Business Data Elements
+ Horizontal Balancing Reveals Missing Data Elements
2 lectures 12:10

By mitigating the risk of missing data, Horizontal Balancing addresses one of the most costly errors made on IT projects.But what is Horizontal Balancing?

Defining and Justifying the Value of Horizontal Balancing

This lecture demonstrates a business analysis technique for discovering data elements that are easily overlooked. We present a simulated interview with a Subject Matter Expert (SME) to explain what questions to ask and how to document and verify the results.

A Walk-through of Horizontal Balancing on a Detailed-Level DFD
+ The Business Value of Data Flow Diagrams
3 lectures 12:31

For smaller or Agile projects, developing and analyzing a completely level-balanced set of diagrams can be overkill. A DFD can still be valuable for those projects if you focus on just a single piece of the overall process and develop a Data Flow Diagram fragment.

Creating and Using DFD Fragments vs Completely Balanced DFDs

As this course demonstrated, developing and leveling Data Flow Diagrams is a very rewarding experience for all involved. We hope you enjoyed the course and that you will be able to use this phenomenal business analysis technique on future projects.

Preview 04:24
Bonus Lecture: Mastering the Learning Curve