Business Process Model

The term Business Process Model (BPM) is the noun form of Business Process Modeling, and refers to a structural representation, description or diagram, which defines a specified flow of activities in a particular business or organizational unit. It is a representation - usually computer-generated and diagrammatic, but can be a low-tech whiteboard or flipchart and marker pens and sticky notes - of a process within a business. Two models are usually produced: an 'as is' and a 'to be'. The process(es) featured in a Business Process Model can be very simple or highly complex, and will typically involve different departments working (hopefully) together while the provision or creation of a product or service flows through different stages and decision-points in an organisation on its way to the customer. A Business Process Model for a large process can be comprised of other smaller modeled processes which contribute to the whole. In theory an entire huge business can be modeled, although for the modelling to be useful and meaningful to people it is normally built in sections, each representing a self-contained process alongside potentially scores, hundreds or even thousands of others, all inter-relating, smoothly, efficiently and enjoyably. (The 'enjoyable' part is not a technical necessity, but is actually important for any model to translate from theory into sustainable practice).[1]

Elements of a Business Process Model[2]
A Business Process Model contains the following elements:

  • Statement of Scope – It’s very easy for one process to turn into several. Naming your process with a clear name in the [Verb] [Noun] syntax and writing a starts with / ends when statement will help you clearly identify the scope of the process.
  • Desired Outcome – It’s easy for a process to get ingrained in “how we do it here” but lose its value over time. As a BA, it’s also very easy to jump into the details of what we do before stopping to consider why we do it. A clear answer to why we work through this process will guide your analysis.
  • Process Flow or Activity Descriptions – This is the meat of the process model. It’s essentially a list of the steps completed by people in certain roles. This is the primary or most common path through the business process.
  • Exceptions – In addition to the primary path, you want to include variations. What happens if information on a form is illegible, a required piece of information is not provided, or a special condition is met?
  • Business Rules – Your process flow will presume a certain set of rules are followed or enforce those rules. As processes get more complex, it often makes sense to break the business rules out separately so they can be more easily managed as they change.
  • Entry Criteria and Inputs – Entry Criteria identify what needs to be true in order for the process to start. Inputs identify any tangible work items someone executing the business process needs to have present-at-hand.
  • Exit Criteria and Outputs – Exit Criteria identify what needs to be true when the process ends. Outputs identify tangible work items generated through the course of the business process.
  • Workflow Diagram – While not required, often it makes sense to include a visual model showing the primary activity steps and exceptions. When multiple roles are involved, a swimlane diagram is a good choice.

See Also

Business Process
Business Process Execution Language (BPEL)
Business Process Analytics
Business Process Architecture
Business Process Engine (BPE)
Business Process Improvement (BPI)
Business Process Automation
Business Process as a Service (BPaaS)
Business Process Change Cycle
Business Process Management (BPM)
Business Process Integration
Business Process Reengineering
Business Process Mapping
Business Process Modeling


  1. What is a Business Process Model? Business Balls
  2. Elements of a Business Process Model Bridging the Gap