A notation is a set of graphical elements used for displaying the elements of a system. Simply speaking, notations define the rules we use to define the processes, operations, and events in the scheme and connect them with each other.
Some email marketing strategies remind us of scripts by David Lynch. Without explaining what correlates and how it all works, they are just incomprehensible.
For a client to understand a strategy, we design it using not only text but also schemes. And for all of the schemes to be "written" in the same language, we use notations.
How We Choose Notations
There are dozens of notations, both simple and really complex, that are used in programming, logistics, business analytics - everywhere where the process description is needed. Let's make it clear which of them suits us.
Our goal is to describe the way we implement email marketing into the existing communication system of the brand with the buyers, or, build this system from scratch, which happens less often.
The task is to build the interaction chains between the participants and show when and with which conditions we will be sending the newsletters.
Moreover, we have our own standards for notations:
- Easy to understand. Notation should be simple, or it will take too much time to understand and it will freeze the working process.
- Easy to perceive. An unprepared person who doesn't know the notation language should understand the scheme.
The notations that suit us are listed in the workflow class of business process engineering. These are the so-called workflow diagrams that display the action sequence over time.
Let's analyze the basic elements of these notations via the examples of a simple logical diagram that we all remember from ICT classes, a popular ARIS eEPC notation, and a more complex modern BPMN notation.
The List of the Basic Elements
Now let's try to describe a simple strategy in every notation.
1. A Simple Logical Diagram
The most frequently used elements in the "simple logical diagram" notation are process, solution, document, data, and arrow. Arrows either have no name at all, or the scheme maker tries to give them short and understandable names.
The scheme is really simple and user-friendly and it will do nicely to describe smaller strategies. It is also flexible and it means that you'll be able to create your own elements and combine them to your liking.
Keep in mind that if you want to implement the technique of building schemes into your company, then you have to develop an in-house standard of their usage. Otherwise, you will get lots of different schemes that are difficult to figure out.
2. ARIS eEPC
The eEPC abbreviation means extended Event-Driven Process Chain. An event "creates" an operation (function), which, as its task, "creates" the next event.
While building a scheme in the ARIS eEPC notation you need to take main rules into account:
- every function should be preceded by an event;
- every function should be ended with an event;
- only one arrow, connecting a function with its causing event or following event, can enter and leave every function.
The main disadvantage of this notation is that it doesn't reflect the participants' interactions, just like the simple logical diagram. Apart from this, it is pretty convenient and understandable both for building and reading.
Now, this notation requires more description. It is based on the BPM (Business Process Management) methodology. The scheme in the BPMN notation or BPMN simulates the participants' behavior over time.
The business processes management professionals who need to build business strategies, find flaws and modernize them , choose BPMN. This notation allows us to reflect the details and to look at them from a bird's eye view.
The BPMN language is difficult, it requires special studying. However, you don't have to use all of the elements, you can pick the ones that suit you.
Aspects of the BPMN Elements
How To Work With the BPMN
While working with the BPMN you need to uphold the standards. If you really want to learn to speak the BPMN language, you can't change the look of the graphical elements and connect them as you wish.
How To Quickly Draw a Scheme
Creating schemes is not difficult, the main thing is to understand the essence of the process, think over its implementation mechanism, and follow the scheme creation algorithm.
- Set margins. You need to display the starting and finishing events of the process on the scheme.
- Draw the main blocks. Imagine the process going flawlessly and build a chain of tasks, which will give you the result when completed.
- Add forks. Specify the scenarios. It will be easier to work this way rather than placing them from the very beginning and then getting tangled in the arrows.
- Add the missing data. Place important documents, databases, and text commentaries on the scheme if needed.
What Tools Are Used
There are lots of commercial and free tools for business process modeling nowadays. We like BizAgi Modeler and Draw.io online service if we were to speak about the free tools. They have a simple interface, integral notations and the schemes can be saved as jpg, png, and SVG images.
For us it is enough, so we don't use any commercial tools. But if you really want, you can buy Visual Paradigm. It costs between $6 to $89 a month for a subscription and the full license is from $99 to $1999. Another popular option is Microsoft Visio (from $5 to $15 a month for subscription).
The most interesting option in the commercial versions is the processes checking. When you build a scheme, the program will check whether it contains any logical mistakes.
That's it for now. We hope this article gave you some understanding of the graphic notations and the ways to use this language correctly.