How many levels of detail do you need?

The most important thing to consider is that you have enough information to reach a common understanding among the team. Different scenarios will require different levels of detail so there is no one size fits all approach.

Read on for guidance on reaching the right level.

What are levels of detail?

Skore app supports process deconstruction, or hierarchical process mapping, in which steps in a process can be deconstructed into more detail. That is to say a higher level step, such as ‘Hire new employee’ can be broken down into the individual steps required to hire a new employee. We start describing how something is done rather than what is being done.

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Activities are broken down into more detailed activities

Why create levels of detail?

Better for Software

First and foremost it addresses one of the main problems of using software to map process. The purpose of a visualization is to understand and communicate a complex process. Software makes it easier to update, share and analyze processes. However large processes that span the walls of your meeting room do not sit well on a computer screen, either there is not enough room or the text is too small resulting in less understanding, not more.

By breaking processes down into ‘chunks’ allows the user to capture a complete process on a page.

Better Focus

As a result of this ‘chunking’ teams can focus on specific areas of the process without losing the context of the whole. An integrated hierarchical model, such as Skore app, means the team can always keep track of adjacent activities and therefore understand the possible impact on them. They can always move up and down in the model to understand where they are.

Better Alignment

Defining processes is important for horizontal alignment and breaking down barriers between teams and silos. However it’s not always clear how these are related to Objectives and KPIs that are handed down from management. It’s often the case that these targets and measures put teams in competition with each other rather than working together. By breaking down the process from top to bottom it’s easier to see how these KPIs align and easier to ensure handovers are smooth.

So, when to create more levels of detail?

When there is too much information on one page for everyone to understand it quickly. The team that created it should be able to explain it without any trouble. Anyone else should be able to read an individual page and be able to understand it with little or no help.

It can be hard to know at the time you create it but you’ll soon learn what works and what doesn’t and improve later. Look out for very low level tasks appearing alongside big activities such as “define 5-year strategy” and then “fax strategy to stakeholders after approval”. The chances are this second step is one of the details in the first one.

You can also consider the different audiences. Some activities naturally speak to certain audiences, C-level execs will be more interested in the big activities compared to details on how to log a new customer in the CRM.

How many level of details?

There’s no hard and fast rules here, it all comes down to the right level of understanding. Do you and your team understand enough to make the next decision? In that case you probably have enough levels. If not then keep digging until you get there.

We’ve found that 3 levels is typical but it again depends on the circumstances. In creative areas such as Innovation and Design fewer levels are required. In highly regulated areas more levels are required to ensure controls and quality are adequate.

3 things to remember

  • There is no “right level of detail” but only a  right level of understanding
  • Create more details when it makes sense
  • Rule of thumb : a “sub process” is necessary when you have interactions between various people

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