Knowledge transfer is a particular challenge for companies on their journey, regardless of the reason for needing this transfer of knowledge. In this article, we will share our experience working with a client facing a major knowledge transfer challenge and how our technical skills came to the rescue. To address the dependency on a key person holding the majority of knowledge about business processes and interdependencies of subsystems, we used EventStorming. EventStorming is a collaborative workshop method derived from Domain Driven Design, aimed at transferring and documenting critical knowledge. Our goal is to equip you to effectively tackle the challenge of knowledge transfer, which can seem immense and like a real puzzle.
Our client faced the following challenge: their information system had been in place for over 10 years, consisting of numerous interdependent subsystems developed at different times by various individuals, including external vendors. The system had evolved over time without a long-term vision or adequate functional or technical documentation. Additionally, a key person with 10 years of experience in the company, holding a significant portion of knowledge about business processes and interdependencies of subsystems, was leaving the company.
In the face of these challenges, our objective was to transfer this knowledge, empower users, and reduce reliance on technical support.
We adopted a systematic approach comprising four key phases:
- Discovery Phase: We started with a high-level presentation of the subsystems and the product life cycle provided by the client. The team examined existing documents and engaged in discussions with the IT service manager to better understand the business model and critical business processes.
- Listening and Problem Documentation Phase: We observed the IT team resolving common issues and analyzed error histories to identify the most frequent problems. Our role was to document the solutions and facilitate communication between the IT team and the users.
- EventStorming Workshops: These workshops formed the core of our approach. They allowed collaborative exploration of complex business processes and identification of interdependencies between subsystems. These workshops encouraged participation from all stakeholders without requiring specific technical knowledge.
- Finalization and Documentation Testing: Once the workshops were completed, we compiled all the information and organized it into an interactive documentation tool. We then tested the documentation to ensure that users became autonomous in their daily tasks.
EventStorming is a collaborative methodology for discovering complex business domains. Created by Alberto Brandolini (an authority in the field) in 2012, it ensures the presence of all stakeholders to arrive at solutions. It aligns with Domain Driven Design and can be used at various stages of a project. The advantages of using EventStorming are numerous, including rapid and effective issue resolution and engaging collaboration.
In practice, EventStorming relies on the use of post-it notes to materialize the studied domain. Participants identify key events and place them chronologically on a timeline. By refining this representation, they identify the causes and effects of events, leading to a detailed view of business processes.
Alberto Brandolini, Source
Through EventStorming, we achieved significant results in our mandate. The different EventStorming sessions allowed us to visualize key business processes and associated software flows. We were able to refine flows, eliminate redundancies, and identify short, medium, and long-term improvement opportunities.
The consolidation of information into an interactive documentation tool facilitated knowledge transfer and made users of the information system more autonomous in their daily operations. Additionally, the collaborative approach of EventStorming promoted knowledge sharing among the various project stakeholders.
Knowledge transfer requires dedicated time and a neutral approach to redefine vocabulary and business processes. EventStorming proved to be an effective method for exploring and documenting complex business processes in the context of knowledge transfer. It visually represented interactions between subsystems and identified potential issues. By fostering participation from all stakeholders, these workshops created an environment conducive to knowledge sharing and continuous improvement.
A domain-driven approach with the EventStorming methodology proved to be a valuable tool for collaboratively exploring a complex business domain, facilitating knowledge transfer, and identifying improvement opportunities. By adopting this method, we enabled our client to strengthen their resilience in the face of key team member departures and focus on the continuous improvement of their information system. We encourage you to consider EventStorming for your future challenges and feel free to reach out to us for further discussions or information.