Business Process Model

What is a Business Process Model?

A business process model is a representation of a business process that visually displays the steps and activities involved in completing a particular task or workflow. It is used to understand, analyze, and improve business processes by providing a clear and concise view of how work is accomplished within an organization.

The purpose of a business process model is to provide a common understanding of the process and to identify opportunities for process improvement. It is a tool that can be used to communicate and document the process and to identify areas where the process can be streamlined or made more efficient.

The importance of business process modeling lies in its ability to help organizations identify and eliminate inefficiencies, reduce costs, and improve the quality of products and services. By understanding and analyzing the steps and activities involved in a process, an organization can identify opportunities for improvement and make changes to the process that will lead to increased efficiency and effectiveness.

Examples of business process models include a process for onboarding new employees, a process for approving invoices for payment, and a process for filling and shipping customer orders.

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 organization 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 modeling to be useful and meaningful to people it is normally built in sections, each representing a self-contained process alongside potential 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

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

  • 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 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 the 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


  1. What is a Business Process Model? [1]
  2. [ Elements of a Business Process Model - BTG]