Business Process Modeling

What is Business Process Modeling?

Business process modeling is the practice of creating visual representations of business processes. Business process modeling is typically done using a variety of tools and techniques, including flowcharts, process maps, and software-based modeling tools.

The purpose of business process modeling is to understand, analyze, and improve business processes. It allows organizations to identify inefficiencies and bottlenecks in their processes, and to make changes that will lead to increased efficiency and effectiveness.

Business process modeling typically involves several steps, including:

  1. Identifying the process to be modeled: This involves defining the scope of the process and determining the boundaries of the model.
  2. Gathering and analyzing data: This involves collecting information about the process, such as inputs, outputs, activities, and decision points.
  3. Creating the model: This involves using a variety of tools and techniques to visually represent the process, including flowcharts, process maps, and software-based modeling tools.
  4. Validating and testing the model: This involves verifying that the model accurately represents the process and that it can be used to identify opportunities for improvement.
  5. Implementing and monitoring the model: This involves implementing any changes to the process based on the model and monitoring the process to ensure that it is operating as intended.

Business process modeling is an important tool for organizations of all sizes, as it allows them to identify and eliminate inefficiencies, reduce costs, and improve the quality of products and services. It is a key part of continuous improvement efforts and is often used in conjunction with other tools and techniques such as Lean and Six Sigma.

Business process modeling (BPM) refers to the creation of a model of a business process in order to better understand that process. Business process modeling relies on conventions like Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) or Unified Modeling Language (UML) to set up models or simulations of a business process for evaluation and possible alteration.[1]

Along with business process discovery, process modeling is widely viewed as a critical component in successful business process management (BPM). It is used to map out an organization’s current (or “as-is”) processes to create a baseline for process improvements and to design future (or “to-be”) processes with those improvements incorporated. Process modeling often uses Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN), a standard method of illustrating processes with flowchart-like diagrams that can be easily understood by both IT and business managers.[2]

The Purpose of Business Process Modeling[3]
A Business Process Model diagram is a tool - a means to an end, not a performance outcome in its own right. The final output is improvement in the way that the business process works. The focus of the improvements is on 'value added' actions that make the customer service and experience better, and on reducing wasted time and effort. There are two main different types of Business Process Models which are used to analyse, test, implement and improve the process:

  • the 'as is' or baseline model (the current situation)
  • and the 'to be' model (the intended new situation)

The aim of modelling is to illustrate a complete process, enabling managers, consultants and staff to improve the flow and streamline the process. The outcomes of a business process modelling project are essentially:

  • value for the customer, and
  • reduced costs for the company,
  • leading to increased profits.

Other secondary consequences arising from successful Business Process Modelling can be increased competitive advantage, market growth, and better staff morale and retention. There are no absolute rules for the scope or extent of a Business Process Model in terms of departments and activities covered. Before committing lots of resources to Business Process Modelling proper consideration should be given to the usefulness and focus of the exercise - ask the questions:

  • Does the modelling have the potential to produce gains that will justify the time and effort?
  • Will the modelling be structured so that people will understand the outputs (not too big and complex as to be self-defeating)?
  • Do people understand why we are doing it, and "what's in it for them"?

As with other management tools, there is no point producing a fantastically complex model that no-one can understand or use, just as it is a bit daft to spend hundreds of hours analyzing anything which is of relatively minor significance.

Business Process Modelling is a powerful methodology when directed towards operations which can benefit from improvement, and when people involved are on-board and supportive.

See Also


Further Reading