The activity of modeling a business process usually predicates a need to change processes or identify issues to be corrected. This transformation may or may not require IT involvement, although that is common driver for the need to model a business process. Change management programmes are desired to put the processes into practice. more

When a business analyst ...sketches the flowchart of a business process as a cluster of boxes linked by arrows ... and asks the software team to make it run, Business Process Modeling ... comes to the rescue. Essential Business Process Modeling

Business Process Modeling

Definition: Process Modeling is the development of efficient, repeatable business processes (often through the use of computer-based process modelling applications) that align with the overall business strategy of an enterprise.

What is a Business Process?

To understand process modelling it is vital to first understand the purpose of a business process.


Business Process Modeling

Every enterprise has an overarching goal or primary objective. In commercial enterprises that goal is usually to generate profits from the sale of goods and services. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to coordinate the activities of a number of departments and staff using the most efficient methods possible.

A business process is simply a set of instructions by which a department or staff member can perform their function as efficiently as possible. These instructions should be fixed and repeatable so as to allow staff members to become more efficient with experience.

Applications of Process Modeling

The challenge faced by any enterprise is in developing efficient, repeatable processes that can be applied to the business effectively (example: help desk software). To aid in this development process, process modeling software can offer a number of software tools to help visualize current business processes, identify bottlenecks and possible improvements.

Process Modeling software tools (from vendors such as ProcessModel Inc.) operate in a variety of ways, depending on the package. However, despite cosmetic differences in methods of visualization and presentation, all BPM tools have the same basic aims:

Description of Current Processes

BPM software allows enterprises to visually map their current business processes, allowing them a comprehensive overview of what actually happens. This allows users to look at a process from an objective point of view and enables them to identify areas of concern and possible methods of improvement.

Definition of Desired Processes

Perhaps most importantly, BPM tools can be used to identify methods of optimizing processes. By enabling an objective birds-eye view of the process it becomes possible to develop methods of achieving greater process efficiency.

BPM tools can also offer guidance on methods by which a process could become more automated. By identifying processes that could be entrusted to computers, overall efficiency and process speed could be improved.

Benefits of BPM Software

BPM software offers a wide range of benefits to enterprises implementing it, including:

Process Improvement

Clearly, the primary benefit of any process modeling software will be the improvement in process efficiency that it allows. By offering an objective view of any business process, BPM software allows planners to effectively identify best practices and plan for their implementation.

Process Simplification

BPM tools can help identify redundancies and excessive complexity in a business process. Ideally, any alteration to a business process will make that process less complex (i.e. remove or modify redundant and inefficient steps) . While reduced complexity will naturally make that process faster, it will also reduce the time required to train new staff to understand and follow it.

Perhaps the simplest example of how simplification can aid a process is in the fast food industry. Since fast food restaurants typically suffer from a high rate of staff turnover it is vital to simplify processes in order to minimize training time.

Process Impact Predictions

In addition to providing the means to design improved processes, BPM software can also offer the capacity to answer various ‘what if?’ questions, allowing planners to predict the impact of process modifications. Since business processes are usually inter-linked with at least one other process in the enterprise, this prediction capacity can be an important tool to determine whether alterations will have either a positive or negative knock on effect to other processes.

Additionally, this prediction capacity allows planners to focus their efforts on mitigating/exploiting the knock on effect of process alterations, perhaps leading to a domino effect of process improvements throughout the enterprise.

Quantitative Costing Predictions

BPM software can also offer an insight into the predicted costs of process modifications. If a process is to make better use of available IT systems, what will be the cost of maintaining those systems? If new staff must be retained to eradicate a bottleneck in a process, will the increased output of the process outweigh the additional labour costs?

Further information can be found at the website of the Business Process Management Initiative (BPMI).