Diagrams and models are like x-rays of the human body. They show what is beneath the skin, what is inside. X-rays tend to be a bit more accurate since they are created by a machine and the diagrams reflecting business processes or proposed changes to the business processes are created by a human being and likely have errors of omission or assumption. It is easy to create a X-ray. Nowadays it is somewhat point and shoot with the computer based technology we have. An X-ray technician has to know the equipment and how to use it effectively, and where to point for the best picture. Similarly the modeler has to know the language of the model (such as UML) which might be considered the ‘equipment” and how much and how detailed to draw the model. But in the end, the X-ray technician does not determine from the X-ray what is wrong with the patient, if anything. That is the job of the doctor. The X-ray is just a picture without the appropriate analysis. The diagram is just a picture without the appropriate analysis by the analyst. A business process model is a collection of boxes, lines, arrows, and other symbols arranged on a board, paper or screen. It is meaningless unless the business analyst applies appropriate analysis to the diagram to determine what needs to be fixed, improved, or changed.
X-rays are meaningless without the explanation of the specialist, the doctor. Similarly the UML or other diagrams that the business analyst creates are meaningless cubist abstracts without a suitable explanation by the business analyst. Where the doctor explains the dark area beside the gray area which is the pancreas, the business analyst explains what the boxes represent and who the stick figures are. The skill is in the presentation which is part of creating the X-ray, or diagram, in the first place.
There was a time when the doctor did his or her own x-rays. And that is the difference between the medical x-rays and the business analyst’s. The business analyst still does his or her own X-rays or diagrams and then analyzes them and interprets the results for the business stakeholders. There may be a day in the future when another role creates the diagrams similar to an X-ray technician and the business analyst does the analysis and interpretation. And unfortunately even today there are business analysts who perceive that their job is to diagram and that is all. While they strive to produce a diagram that is simple enough for a novice to read and understand, they still do not provide any analysis or interpretation based on their experience, knowledge, insight and intuition. They simply proffer the diagram as the outcome of their work. This is not business analysis.