Process Modelling Preparation Guide

process modelling guide

There’s a lot more to creating a new process than just accessing your company in Pipefy and hitting the “create a new pipe” button. The process of creating a new process (as weird as it sounds) starts way before you click that button.

Let’s assume you already know all about how Pipefy works. Before you can start managing your processes inside our structure you need to understand how they work and map them.

What is process mapping?

According to the definition by SearchCIO:

Business process mapping is the visual display of the steps involved in a business process from start to finish. Process mapping draws a concise picture of the sequences of tasks needed to bring a product or service from genesis to completion. It is often depicted as a flowchart and usually moves from left to right, or sometimes top down.

The Iowa State University defines process mapping as “a workflow diagram to bring forth a clearer understanding of a process or series of parallel processes”.

There are multiple methodologies for mapping/modelling processes. The most popular, and I’m willing to bet it’s the first one that came to your mind when we first mentioned process modelling, are diagrams/flowcharts.

Even though they’re not especially effective for managing processes, flowcharts are actually pretty good when it comes to mapping and modelling them.

Understanding your existing processes

The first step for modelling a process is understanding how it currently works. Take your time to observe the activity and identify:

  • What are the execution steps?
  • Who are the people involved in it?
  • What are the tools they use to manage it (spreadsheets, SOP, flowcharts, etc.)?

Each phase of a process has a unique structure. They don’t work independently, though, so at the end of each phase there’s an activity/information handoff so the next phase can begin.

Other than just adding information to a diagram, we suggest you use a process improvement methodology called SIPOC. The acronym stands for: suppliers, input, process, outputs and customers.

process-mapping-sipoc-feed-the-dog

This methodology helps identify all relevant elements of a process before working on it. We suggest you take it a step further: instead of simply considering the elements of the entire process, you do so for each step (or phase) of your process.

When modelling a process to be managed in Pipefy, here’s what you need to consider for each phase’s SIPOC:

  • Suppliers: Who inputs information into this phase of the process? Is this person a member of the pipe or even the company? (This definition will help determine the channel you’ll use to create new cards in this process: public form, email inbox, integration with other apps, connection with other processes, etc.)
  • Input: How is this phase started? What’s necessary to kick off this specific stage of the process?
  • Process: What must be done in this phase? What are the steps/actions you must follow before moving on to the next phase?
  • Output: What are the deliverables at the end of this phase? What determines that this phase is completed and that the information can move on to the next phase?
  • Customers: To whom is the information handed off at the end of this phase? Who is responsible for the next stage of the process? Is the next stage a part of the same process or is it the first phase of an entirely new process? Is there only one possible path or are there multiple alternatives depending on output variables (conditionals)?

There’s more to process modelling than just establishing a detailed step-by-step structure, though. We can think of it as a cake recipe: having detailed instructions would be worthless unless we also had the proper ingredients.

When making a cake you’d need to have flour, eggs, sugar, butter. When modelling a process, however, your ingredients would be a little different. What makes a great process are the necessary information (provided at the right time) paired with the necessary advanced resources to manage each phase (in Pipefy we offer email templates, automation, connections and much more).

When setting up a new process in Pipefy, the fields in your pipe’s start form is what you’ll use to ask for the necessary information to set your process in motion.

It’s very important that you ask for all the information you need while keeping things relevant. Adding unnecessary fields to your pipe’s start form will increase friction and decrease the chances of your process’ suppliers providing all the input you need.

Another essential definition is the process’ success metric. What determines that you have achieved the expected result? You can’t improve what you can’t measure, and you can’t measure information you haven’t added to your process to begin with.

Once you’ve established point A and point B you need to define what it takes to go from point A to point B. When developing a new process, think about the information you’ll want to extract from it (using Pipefy’s reports, for example): you’ll only be able to extract the information you add to your process.

After you’ve defined the general outlines of your process, we suggest that you zoom in on each of your process’ phases to define what are the specific elements for each of the phases.

When it comes to process modelling there’s no such thing as too much information (as long as it’s relevant) so dig deeper and look for the details inside each phase.

Useful process modelling tips

Map the process you have (not the one you wish you had)

It’s very common for people to create an ideal process when modelling a process. While that’s not entirely wrong, it’s not entirely right either.

Process modelling is about the process you already have (current state), not about the one you wish you had (future state). In order to improve a process you need to start managing an existing process first, that way you can analyze its actual results and pinpoint what you need to work on to get to that ‘ideal’ process.

Noun = phase / Verb = field or action (advanced features) inside a phase

Whenever you’re modelling a process and you can define an action with a noun (ex. approval), that should represent a phase in that process.

When an action can be defined using a verb (ex. send request for approval) it should be a field inside that phase or an advanced feature (email template, connection, etc.).

Necessary permissions

When mapping the necessary resources in a process you must also define the permissions each person involved in that process must have.

Each person’s permission level* will define what they can and can’t do within a process. Sometimes, due to the specific information restriction needs of a process it may need to be divided into two or more pipes.

*Pipefy offers different permission levels for users in the business and enterprise plans.

Continuous improvement

Almost nothing in this world is static, so why would you expect your processes to be? Process mapping and modelling is definitely not a ‘once in a lifetime’ activity.

As your team and their activities evolve, so must your processes. One of the greatest things about managing your activities in a flexible tool such as Pipefy is that it allows you to easily change what needs to be changed in your processes.

It’s of the utmost importance to review your processes periodically. Most business process management authors agree on the fact that processes are constantly evolving so it’s only fair that you keep up with it by modifying and adapting your processes to the changes.

Make it a priority to always review and keep your processes updated. Keep track of your KPIs and don’t let improvement opportunities pass you by.

Written by Isabelle Salemme, Product content manager at Pipefy. She uses her extensive Pipefy knowledge to write informative pieces teaching users to make the best of Pipefy. Besides being responsible for all product-related content, she's an avid reader, a coffee lover and a professional photographer.