What is business process modeling and how can it make your company more productive?

Summer Kay September 10, 2018 BPM

business process modeling

In this first post in a new series, we explain how business process modeling techniques give you the knowledge to improve performance across your enterprise.

Optimize Your Process

Business process modeling is the act of creating a visual display of your enterprise’s processes. This includes activities and the people or groups responsible for carrying them out. Data generated from or entered into the process, and the documents produced are also components. With this information, executives can identify less-productive areas and develop a plan to improve their performance. As written in a previous blog post, business process mapping techniques, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.”
Companies use a standardized set of elements provided by the business process modeling notation to model processes. As BPM.com noted in a 2016 white paper, there are four basic types of elements:

  • Events, indicated by circles. These can include the start and endpoints of an activity.
  • Activities, drawn as rectangles and comprise multiple steps, such as forms and output documents.
  • Gateways, identifiable by diamonds. These indicate the various paths an activity can take.
  • Sequence flows, marked as arrows (solid, dotted, and so on).

Business Process Modeling Tools

There are several types of process modeling tools that can be used to map any workflow with the goal of process improvement.

  • SIPOC Diagrams, Six Sigma tool used to identify all relevant elements of a process improvement project before work begins.
  • BPMN Process Maps, like the UML flowcharting technique, BPMN standard notation helps all business stakeholders readily understand processes and collaboration points
  • UML Diagrams, Unified Modeling Language visually represents a system along with the main actors, roles, actions, artifacts, class to better understand, alter, maintain and document information about the system.
  • Value Stream Mapping, An enterprise technique often using paper and pencil, helps participants understand the flow of materials and information as a product or service makes its way through the value stream
  • IPO Model, functional graph that identifies inputs, outputs and required processes essential to transforming the inputs and outputs.

Consider an example from SmallBusiness.com:

“… when reviewing a business process flow chart, a company’s senior management team may recognize that departments that offer incentive programs, such as employee of the week, are more productive than those that do not. As a result, they may choose to provide incentives to employees company-wide.”

Understanding, streamlining and automating processes results in more efficient and more profitable businesses. Through the use of process mapping, information is readily available for important decision making.  By graphically depicting workflows, the organization gains transparency in the various workflows throughout the business. Having this information at the ready creates a strong foundation for business agility and speeds the go-to-market efforts for new products and services.  

Next in the Series

In this blog series, each post will dive deeper into how process modeling works. This series will discuss how process modeling helps set reasonable benchmarks for performance.  It will also discuss how modeling can illustrate to what degree a process needs to be changed.

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