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How to Write a Process Story?

Discover the art of process stories: Learn to craft clear, concise narratives that capture the essence of organizational roles and activities.
By Michael Jones
Published Jan 16, 2024

A question that we frequently receive is: What is a process story, and how do I write one? In this article, we will not only cover the 'what' and 'how', but also explain why we created Coarchy to write process stories in the way that we do.

Before we delve into writing a process story, let's first understand the underlying concepts.

A process story is a sequence of activities occurring one after the other. Each activity comprises a condition, an actor, and an action. These are three components that anyone can read, write, and understand. An activity uses a simple sentence structure: 'condition, actor, action'. This structure enables the most information to be communicated with the fewest words. Activities are arranged sequentially in time, with Activity 1 occurring before Activity 2, akin to a story the term 'process story'.

A condition, placed before the actor and action, applies the action to the actor conditionally. Conditions typically begin with words like 'if', 'every', 'for', 'until', 'when', 'after', 'as', and 'before'. While conditions are useful, they are not necessary for every activity. Often, an activity may not include a condition, implying that the action is performed by the actor consistently.

An actor is a person or thing that performs an action. Common examples of actors include job titles, company names, groups, or types of individuals such as a customer or client. An activity can involve multiple actors, as it's common for several actors to collaborate in performing an action.

Hint: When writing process stories, we usually start by noting down each action, then identifying all the actors, and finally assigning each action to an actor. This approach means that when writing a process story, you don’t need to immediately consider who is performing the action (sometimes this is not known at the outset).

Actors are essential because, in all organizations, various people perform different roles and must collaborate to achieve a goal. A process story describes these interactions. The concept of multiple actors is often overlooked in user stories. Clearly defining each actor's role in the organization ensures that, when implementing a new software system, everyone can efficiently perform their job from day one.

An action is a crucial element of an activity. It describes a step in a process. While an actor is a noun, an action is a verb, often serving as the subject. In essence, an action is the key component of the activity that specifies a necessary step. In Coarchy, each activity is formulated as a sentence. A common issue we encounter is actions forming compound sentences, such as:

Actor does action 1, and action 2.

This should be divided into two separate activities for clarity, like so:

Actor does action 1. Actor does action 2.

However, the structure of a process story is not the only critical aspect; the content is equally important. We recommend starting with our existing templates by copying a public organization from our settings.

When beginning to write a process story, it's best to start in a domain where you have expertise, and to collaborate with a colleague or consultant experienced in writing process stories. This ensures that your knowledge is effectively communicated, rather than leaving others to speculate.

Note: One quick way to identify a process story to write is by reviewing the steps of your daily work routine.

As you document these activities, you may realize there are aspects of others' roles that you are not familiar with. Rather than guessing, invite them to join Coarchy and contribute their expertise to the relevant parts of the process story.

We hope you find these tips helpful!

If you have any questions or seek further guidance check out our service offering.

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