The Zen approach to designing a business system.

Part 5: Use Cases/Business Scenarios

Julie, the owner of the bakery Cakes-&-Kisses (which makes yummy cakes for weddings and special occasions we discussed in our previous posts in this series) is all excited on making her business more efficient using Zoho Creator, the online cloud-based database and business application making software.

So far, we have managed to list some entities for Julie and also worked out how they relate to each other. We also ironed out some common issues. Such a diagram is technically called a ‘Schema Diagram’ or an ‘ER Diagram’ (if I may use that one geeky term!). ‘ER’ stands for ‘entity-relationship’. In this kind of diagram, we list the entities and their relationships.

Click here to download a higher resolution copy for your reference.

Coming up with the ER diagram for your business is vital before you start implementing any system to automate your business process/workflow.

Okay. So far, so good. Now, in this blogpost, let’s take a step back from the ER Diagram and get into a new business automation tool called ‘Flow Diagram’. To explain simply, a flow diagram just depicts the process flow in your business.

Let’s try to chart out what happens in Julie’s bakery. Every order has to go through several departments before the cake is ready.

When the customer places an Order, the Order Status is initially set to ‘New Order’. The application needs to check if the Order involves more than one cake. If yes, we need to separate them so they could be tracked separately. This is because each cake’s preparation might progress at a differing pace within different departments in the bakery. So, here we introduce a new concept called ‘Job’. No, this is not a technical term like ER Diagram! This is just our own imagination of splitting an Order into various Jobs, one for each cake, so we can track them separately. Here’s what our flow diagram will look like for the Bakery’s Point of Sale process.

You can view/download the full-sized image here.

So once the jobs are generated, the Baking Department gets to see the list of all jobs for which baking is to be done. In Zoho Creator’s terminology, such a list of jobs is termed as a ‘Report’. A report is a set of data that is stored in the database. In this case, Zoho Creator is the cloud-based database. Any report is a way to see a specific set of data in the database. In our example here, we are talking about the list of jobs for which cake-baking is to be done. Based on priority, urgency and due date, the report would list all the pending jobs for the Baking Department. Now, when the person starts takes up a Job, he marks that Job as ‘Started’, and as ‘Done’ once complete. The application knows which department has to take it up next and notifies that department accordingly. Here, for this bakery, after Baking Department completes a Job, next is the Filling Department’s work to do the cake filling. After this, the Icing Department comes into picture, & finally the Decoration Department. Here’s how the typical workflow process diagram will look like for such a bakery:

You can view/download the full-sized image here.

The above process flow diagram depicts the flow for Baking and Filling Departments. The same is applicable for the other departments as well.

Now, once the cake is ready, next is order delivery. So before the order is delivered, what is it that we need to check for? Keep thinking until the next post.

This is a guest post by Priya.Sri, a Zoho expert. Passionate about the ways in which software and automation help achieve in the real world, and in making businesses more productive, she publishes articles about best practices for businesses. She has been designing and implementing custom business workflows/apps for small and medium businesses for four years, and brings with her a rich experience of about 15 years in the software industry. For more information, contact