Your organization’s day-to-day operations rely on a variety of processes, but do you really understand them? Keeping track of each step in the process and the connections between them without visual aids is a daunting task. That’s where business process modeling comes in.
By allowing you to visualize entire processes from start to finish, business process modeling serves as an invaluable tool for analyzing and improving business processes at every scale.
What is Business Process Modeling?
Business process modeling is the practice of representing business processes in visual form. These models often take the form of flowcharts or diagrams that display all the steps in a process and how they are related.
Business process modeling is a key step in implementing a business process management (BPM) strategy. BPM is an organization-wide practice that requires modeling, analyzing, and optimizing business processes, with the goal of improving efficiency and effectiveness.
Business process modeling gives you a holistic view of processes from start-to-finish and also provides a more granular understanding of the specific steps involved. This makes it much easier to identify redundancies, unnecessary steps, and performance bottlenecks. These benefits apply to all parts of your business, from customer service to accounting to sales.
Business process modeling also removes any ambiguity regarding what steps to follow when performing a process. All team members know their responsibilities and exactly what their roles are. This keeps your employees aligned and facilitates improved communication and collaboration.
Techniques for Business Process Modeling
Universal Process Notation
The Steps to Business Process Modeling
How you create a business process model depends in part on which of the techniques above you use, but each approach will involve the same general steps once you’ve identified the process you want to model:
1. Model the as-is process. You should review relevant data and interview those who use the process every day before modeling it in its current state. Using a business process management platform for modeling will make this step much easier than trying to draw the model on paper.
2. Design the to-be process. Before creating the to-be process, carefully evaluate the as-is process for existing problems and ways it can be improved. Can it be streamlined by removing or combining steps? Are there any steps that cost more than they should or are consistently unreliable?
3. Model the to-be process. Finally, it’s time to model the to-be process. After creating the model, run it by the key stakeholders to see what they think and incorporate any useful suggestions they have.
The steps above are only a part of business process management — we haven’t touched on how to identify your most important processes or the importance of testing the to-be process before implementation, for instance. That’s why business process modeling needs to be part of a comprehensive BPM strategy.
Best Practices for Business Process Modeling
It’s important to structure your models in a way that’s useful and understandable for everyone involved in the processes. There are a few best practices you can implement to do so:
● Avoid making the model overly complex. While you may be tempted to try to map out every possible step and outcome, this can lead to models that are hard to understand due to their excessive scope. When possible, try to be compact and remove any redundancies.
● Plan the steps ahead of time. In other words, don’t just dive right into building the model. You’ll want to discuss the plans with all process stakeholders to make sure the information is correct and makes sense to them. Otherwise, you risk an incorrect or over-complicated model as you start to modify it in response to feedback.
● Keep in mind that the goal is process improvement. Therefore, you should structure the model as an aid in detecting inefficiencies. The scope of steps should be wide enough to encompass useful information but narrow enough to locate specific issues. You may have to iterate on the model to find the optimal balance.
● Take advantage of automation with a BPM platform. While it’s certainly possible to build out models by hand, a BPM platform can speed up the modeling process and makes collaboration easy. The automations possible with a BPM tool give you new avenues for process improvement as well. BPM platforms also facilitate ongoing maintenance of modeled processes and let you analyze them to help plan future improvements.
BPM is an organization-wide practice that requires modeling, analyzing, and optimizing business processes, with the goal of improving efficiency and effectiveness.