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Top-level Dataflow Diagram and Process Descriptions for the Current Physical Dataflow Model (slide 19)

The Top-level Dataflow Diagram, Current Physical Dataflow Model for the Feasibility Study of Acme Fashion case study, s19
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Top-level Dataflow Diagram and Process Descriptions

The DFD above shows the processes for the in-scope areas of Acme Fashion Supplies for the As-Is business system.

At this point in the investigation, the top level dfd has been produced. As the analysis progresses, each process will be decomposed to its own second level dfd.

(If you need to, review the diagram notation)

In some projects it may be that one or more top level processes do not need decomposition but, in this case, each does.

For now, until the more detailed investigation of each process can be conducted, each process is shown as not being decomposed and so deserves an EPD (elementary process description).

In the real world, these EPDs will help in preparing for sessions with the business to decompose the processes. I always try and make sure that there is some prose covering each and every dataflow. When I meet with the business that's a good way in to taking things to the next level.

Elementary Process Descriptions

Process 1, Sell Product and Take Order

The sales team raise sales orders as a result of receiving customers' purchase orders (by post twice per day), orders passed in by the travelling sales team and sales calls received or made throughout the day. As they are received they are recorded on the sales team's master sales spreadsheet (s/sheet), which is used to print out the multi-part sales order.

The multi-part sales order comprises:

  • the sales order (filed on raising in the customer master file, together with the customer's purchase order if one was received)
  • a dispatch note (batched and passed to the stock room four times a day for picking and packing)
  • a delivery note (accompanies the dispatch note and is attached to the parcel, which is then passed to the courier for delivery to the customer)

Priority is given to back-orders (as noted on the dispatch notes received from the stock room) and these are reviewed against the recent deliveries part of the stock levels report from the stock control manager (see below).

At the start of the day, the stock room pass on the previous day's returns notes and one of the sales team update the master sales s/sheet with the info before filing them in the customer master file. The stock room also pass on a list of products that are dangerously low on stock and those that have been delivered into stock the previous day. For sales orders that couldn't be completely filled, the dispatch notes for them are passed back, too, so the sales team can inform the customer and give priority to filling them when new stock arrives.

Again at the start of the day, the Accounts department send through a list of customers nearing their credit limit. Sales staff check this as they are raising orders to make sure that each customer stays within their limit.

At the end of the day the sales team leader prepares a sales and returns report that is passed to the accounts department. It contains deatils of the sales orders for that day and the details of yesterday's returns, by customer. It includes the order / returns value, taking into account any returns not fit for stock.

An absolute must: get copies of forms / reports actually used (they'll be included in the appendix to the final Feasibility Report). They'll help tremendously and when reviewing them with users it gives you another opportunity to clarify and confirm your understanding of the data and related processes.

I stress that they must have actually been used because you'll often find hand written notes / messages on them that can be very illuminating.

Sometimes users don't tell you things because it is so blindingly obvious to them that they don't realise you don't know.

Every month, or sooner if requested, the sales team leader prepares a customer sales report from the master sales s/sheet for the marketing department. The sales report includes:

  • a summary of the best and poorest moving stock
  • on a customer by customer basis, the value of and the products purchased.

Marketing keep sales operations updated with planned campaigns including any product pricing changes, offers and special discounts.

On a monthly basis, or sometimes more frequently, the sales team leader emailshots all customers with a friendly note and details of any offers etc. A primary purpose is to shift slow moving or discontinued stock.

Every new customer is credit checked by the accounts department before being allowed to place an order. If their application included an order, the order is put on hold until accounts have completed the checking. Once complete, accounts pass on the customer's details and credit limit to sales operations (accounts will have created a new file in the customer master file), together with the order if included with their application. Major exception - if declined, sales make the call to the customer to explain.

Only include major exceptions to the norm if a standard process exists for the exception.

Process 2, Fill and Dispatch Order

The two-part dispatch and delivery note forms that are received from the Sales Team drive the dispatch process. A Goods Out member of staff collects stock from the shelves for a customer's parcel and ticks off the items on the dispatch note as s/he goes.

When the parcel is complete, the delivery note is attached. Completed parcels are put in the goods out area for collection by the courier, who calls to collect four times a day.

The dispatch note is used to update the stock master file with the new stock levels; the number filled on each order line is subtracted from the present stock level to give the new. The dispatch note is then put on a stick pin. Once or twice a day the are handed over to stock control.

Process 3, Control Stock

This area is responsible for maintaining stock at their pre-determined levels. It must take into account targets for marketing campaigns, including any new and discontinued products (notified by the marketing department).

The stock manager is the one primarily who does this, although some cover is provided by other members of the stock team (i.e. Goods In and Out staff).

The stock manager examines stock levels on the stock master file for those that are below or nearing their minimum stock holding level. For those that are, he raises a purchase order, perhaps phoning the preferred supplier first on important orders, to confirm the order can be met. If not, he will raise the order with one of the alternatives.

Note that this conflicts with what is said in Problems / Requirements List, ref PRL4

This will need to be pursued with Pylem Hye.

He updates the stock master file record with the purchase order number to show that it is on order. If a supplier subsequently puts an ordered product on back order, then the expected delivery date is filled in.

During the day, Goods In pass over delivery notes from suppliers and returns notes from customers. The stock manager uses this information to update stock holding levels on the stock master file. For each filled order line, the purchase order number against the product on the master file is cleared.

The stock manager is given every dispatch note once the order has been filled. If any stock level anomalies arise these can be checked. Otherwise they are filed in the customer master file. The only exception to this is if an order line couldn't be filled. These dispatch notes are passed back to sales operations so the customer can be notified.

At the start of the day, yesterday's returns notes are passed back to sales operations, together with a report showing items dangerously low on stock.

Process 4, Receive Goods Into Stock

Returns from customers and purchases from suppliers are received first thing in the morning and then, intermittently, throughout the day.

Goods In check the items into stock and update the stock levels on the stock master file. The returns and delivery notes are passed to the stock control manager two or three times a day. If returned items are not fit for stock this is marked on the returns note.

Process 5, Plan and Execute Advertising Campaign

The marketing department carry out marketing campaigns on monthly, seasonal or ad-hoc bases. Campaigns are to:

  1. introduce and push new product ranges
  2. shift product about to be withdrawn
  3. target specific customers with offers and discounts
  4. move poorly performing product

They use the sales reports provided by sales operations to target the customers for 2 and 3, above. 1 and 4 tend to go to the whole customer base.

Marketing keep a mailing list database in Excel of all customers and manually select those that are to be included in a mailshot (they use MS Word for this).

Mailshots by marketing presently are all paper-based as some or all of brochures, vouchers and product catalogues accompany the mailshot.

From time to time they trawl through the entire customer master file to bring their s/sheet up to date.

When a campaign is planned and during its execution marketing keep the stock manager updated with targets and expected sales volumes (so that demand can be met from stock).

When a new product range is planned, marketing investigate suppliers, negotiate purchase prices and write marketing copy (including product name and description). They then pass these to the stock manager so that they can be entered on the stock master file.

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