In prior posts I introduced the Context Diagram and the Event List. In this and the upcoming series of posts, I will define some techniques you can use to discover events and complete the Event List and Context Diagram.
The very first place to start defining events is the Context Diagram. Every input arrow on the diagram represents an event to which your “business” must respond. Recall that our definition of your “business” is the boundary of the business area under study. Inside of the business bubble in the Context Diagram, you have control over the business processes and data flows. Outside the boundary, you can negotiate the interfaces with the Suppliers and Customers but have little or no control over their business processes.
Let’s examine an example of how the Context Diagram can provide events. For this example, let us say the Supplier is an Employee and the input arrow is “Travel Expense Details”.
Our first column on the Event List is “When this happens”. In this example, you would state “Travel Expense Report Submitted”.
The second and third columns are “This Source” and “Gives us This”. In this example, the Source is “Employee”, and “Gives us This” is “Travel Expense Details”.
The fourth column is “Then we do this”. These are the labels of the business processes your “business” will execute upon receipt of the “Travel Expense Details”. You might have a list of processes that looks like this:
- Verify expenses comply with business policy
- Approve/Reject Expenses
The fifth column is “Which creates this”. These are the outputs of each business process. The outputs of the first process listed above might be “Valid Expenses” and “Invalid Expenses”. The outputs of the second process listed above might be “Approved Expenses” and “Rejected Expenses”.
The sixth column is “… and we give it to …”. These are the recipients of the outputs listed in the fifth column. In this case the recipient of the Valid and Invalid Expenses could be “Employee’s Manager”. The recipient of “Rejected Expenses” would be the Employee while the recipient of “Approved Expenses” could be the Travel Expense Data Repository.
Be sure to keep implementation details out of this analysis. You don’t want solutions to be constrained by using specifics such as “email:, “reports”, “database”, etc.
In the next post, I will continue the discussion of Event Discovery and show how, once you have a few events listed, you can use these events to discover more events and get the complete scope of the project.
Note: My Kindle book “Project Management For The Real World”, is available at