IT Solutions That Make A Difference

The Original FDD Processes

They say necessity is the mother of invention and in a way that is how these processes came about. On a large solution development project, I had a group of people on the side working on processes. This activity was running in parallel with other project startup activities. The group wasn't making much useful progress, but it kept a bunch of people off the critical path for a while until, eventually, their results (or lack thereof) would become "the biggest fire to fight" (more on this management situation in a future article).

Thus, when the time came, in one short sitting I wrote the first FDD processes (note: the name FDD didn't exist at this time - it was suggested by Peter Coad much later - after the working system had been explained to him). There were a few key inputs at this stage in terms of the shape of the process templates.

One was the ETVX (Entry, Tasks, Verification, eXit) template introduced to me by M. A. Rajashima (Raj to his friends) who was working for me on that project. I could immediately see how to use this simple and clear structure to describe what it was I wanted people to do.

Another was the work of Edward Tufte in the magnificent book "Envisioning Information". Particularly the New Jersey Transit Northeastern Corridor Timetable from Chapter 3 - Layering and Separation, and the Metro-North Commuter Railroad New York <-> New Haven Timetable from Chapter 6 - Narratives of Space and Time.

These inputs led to the structure of the FDD process templates. They follow an ETVX style of outline and the Tasks are described underneath table headings for the Task name, the Roles involved in that task, and whether the Task is Optional or Required. This layout and the use of colour for layering and separation was inspired by the Tufte work. It makes it easy to see the Outline and then the detail. Also, you can run your eye down the table headings to easily see if your Role is involved or not.

It was very important for me to have something clear and concise and USEFUL. That is, it had to as much as possible tell you what to do. In fact, following ETVX, it had to tell you what had to be done before you could start, what you had to do, how you verified what you had done, and what you had to deliver out of it. Another important goal I had was that each of the processes should fit on one page, two pages at the maximum.

I added the narrative at the start, where it is explained in simple English exactly what it is that is going on in this process and then tried to describe each Task in the same way.

I don't have the very first version of the processes but I do have a set that is close. From these you can more easily see the spirit of the processes. You should also note that these were written specifically for one project. Hence, they are tuned specifically (for example, by toolset) for that project.

I strongly recommend you do the same fine-tuning regarding your own tools, etc. (from the latest set of processes of course!).

Notes on the original processes:

  • These are presented exactly as they were at the time. No text has been edited. The files have been edited to remove links to an internal (intranet) server used on that project and have had html changes made accordingly (e.g. external stylesheets).
  • This particular project had requirements in the form of use cases. These came from a previously failed project attempt. That is, I inherited them.
  • KMS stands for Knowledge Management System- an Intranet-based tool we use on all our Solution Development projects.

Thanks are also due to Herman Veluwenkamp who published these processes for me and the colour scheme is his design.

Jeff De Luca

Click here to view the original FDD processes.

Related Information
 - The Latest FDD Processes [go]

 - Visit the FDD Community website [go]