Document your business workflows in easy and simple visuals using these business process modeling (BPM) techniques.
You might have a clear idea about your business process, but your subordinates may not. Also, the investment group interested in funding you may not understand your proposals clearly if you just present an essay.
Here comes business process modeling. This concept of business process management (BPM) empowers business people to draw a flowchart for all the tasks using visual elements. The visual representation should highlight all the tasks, like creating and selling products, recruiting and retiring employees, etc.
What is Business Process Modeling (BPM)?
BPM is the process of creating flowcharts for the workflows of a business. One workflow may contain subsequent child workflows. So, linking all big and small processes in the flowchart following standard BPM guidelines to create an easy-to-follow blueprint or diagram is business process modeling.
Employees can follow such flowcharts to accomplish day-to-day duties. The R&D team may follow appropriate R&D BPM to drive the necessary returns growth for a product or service line. And the IT team resolves IT hardware and network downtime in the least possible time following an SOP. All these crucial business activities follow a standardized BPM diagram.
Key Components of a Business Process Model
In a standard BPM process, you will find the following elements:
A Process Flow: A sequence of actions or tasks outlined from the start to finish of a work.
Activities: These are definitive steps that you must complete within a process.
Process Events: These are major actions that kickstart a process flow or stall it.
Gateways: These are points where the process may take different pathways according to different business decisions.
Roles or Participants: Groups of employees or individual project managers responsible for carrying out production and management tasks.
Data Objects: These are either inputs or byproducts of the process. Data objects are mainly codes, documents, graphics, multimedia, records of machine activities, etc., processed by the workflow.
Sequence Flow and Connectors: These are lines with arrows to indicate in which direction a process flows. These BPM components also dictate the order of the activities.
Start and End Points: An event that kickstarts the workflow and a file, digital state, or physical state that marks the workflow completion.
Business Policies: Rules, conditions, and logic that must guide the employees when executing the workflow elements.
Performance Metrics and KPIs:Return on investment (ROI), sales, signups, subscriptions, feedback forms submitted, net promoter score (NPS), etc., that tells how well the workflow is performing.
Next, we will explore how to create a business process model.
How to Create a Business Process Model
The BPM activities start with event logs. Then, you must use process mining to make sense of the event log data. Finally, use standardized diagrams and connecting lines to form the entire flow chart.
Business applications create event logs for audit purposes. These software history or data logs are digital records of changes made within a system when performing a task. Anything happening in a business system when completing a workflow is important. Find below a simple list of events when a user buys a product in an online marketplace:
The customer logs into the website using their account and password.
They search for a specific product.
They apply price, review, rating, etc., filters.
The user adds a product to the cart.
They go to the cart and hit the checkout button.
The user feeds the delivery address.
They also type in the payment method details.
Finally, the customer hits the pay and finalize button.
The above list of event logs are very simple examples. A small to medium business may create hundreds and thousands of such event logs. Organizing these event logs in the order they occur is a challenging task.
Here, you must employ process mining. In process mining, you pass the event log data through a data mining program. The program identifies patterns in the occurrences of the events. Then, it uses BPM diagram elements to construct a process flow model.
Benefits of Business Process Modeling
Here is why you must learn and implement BPM in business management:
It provides a visual representation of complex business workflows.
These visual diagrams of business processes enhance understanding and communication on the project.
When creating a BPM diagram, you can identify and resolve bottlenecks and inefficiencies in your business process.
You can also optimize the workflow by eliminating unnecessary steps.
To produce a consistent product or provide high-quality service to all the customers, you must standardize the process workflow. A BPM diagram exactly does this.
A BPM diagram also helps you to uncover ways to automate the process.
You can effortlessly plan change management by simulating the effects on the workflow introduced by the change.
When training the new workforce, you would often refer to many BPM diagrams.
Now, we will explore business process modeling techniques.
Business Process Modeling Techniques
BPMN stands for Business Process Modeling Notation. This technique involves a graphical representation of the business process standard. It uses a set of graphical objects and rules to define the relationship between the objects.
It has a well-defined syntax and is considered the gold standard for business process modeling. For this reason, it offers an unambiguous process model while avoiding communication gaps.
Commonly used components of this approach include flow objects, connecting objects, artifacts, and swim lanes. You may choose to use your own symbols and visual language to enhance the model, but for collaborative works, it is better to use standardized BPMN elements.
Value Stream Mapping
Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is a visual analysis tool taught in lean management to improve process efficiency. It provides a complete overview of the entire workflow. The overview includes the process of sourcing raw materials to delivering finished goods or services to the customers, and everything in between.
In the process of VSM, you can easily identify the non-value-added and value-added activities of a business process. Thus, you can cut down on waste and non-value-added steps to make a workflow cost-effective and user-friendly. If you are looking for continuous improvement in lean business management, VSM is a must-try.
SIPOC is the abbreviation for Suppliers, Inputs, Processes, Outputs, and Customers. It explains how these elements fit into a business workflow. It is a popular BPM technique to improve business processes.
SIPOC identifies the suppliers of the business inputs, the workflow to an end product or service, and the end users receiving the outputs. By clarifying suppliers, inputs, and outputs, SIPOC provides a clear understanding of the process scope.
This business process modeling tool helps in the following:
Identifying Process stakeholders
Finding dependencies within and outside the process
Improving the workflow on each execution
Universal Process Notation (UPN)
To represent workflows, business analysts use Universal Process Notation (UPN), a standardized visual language. UPN uses a set of symbols, shapes, and connectors to visualize the interactions, decisions, and flows between the process elements.
UPN helps analysts to enhance collaboration and communication by offering standard language for workflow documentation. Using UPN, you can create clear and concise BPM diagrams that, in turn, let you optimize and automate your business processes.
It is a popular method of visualizing business process flows. When companies need to create a model for time-sensitive processes, they rely on Gantt charts. With it, you can display project schedules and duration, task dependencies, milestones, etc.
This method is highly beneficial for tracking and recording processes sequentially. It also provides a clear view of the beginning and end of a task. However, it is a bit difficult to include subtasks in this task visualization model.
A Gantt chart involves a matrix with vertical and horizontal axes. The vertical axis lists the tasks included in a process. The horizontal axis has estimated activity duration, assignee, required skill level, etc.
Data Flow Diagrams (DFDs)
Data flow diagrams (DFD) can display how different processes are linked together through data stores. It also shows the relationship between the processes relate and the users, and the outside world.
The most common use of this technique is to showcase how data enters and flows through a system. While doing that, it focuses on the data flow between processes instead of the operations of the processes.
Unified Modeling Language (UML)
If you need to model the business logic, workflows, and processes in the software development industry, you must use UML. It is the standard and globally known visual notation system in the digital development sector.
The UML notation language consists of various graphical elements like sequence diagrams, activity diagrams, class diagrams, etc. You can use these diagram elements to visualize different parts of the business process’s structure, behavior, and interactions.
Most DevOps project managers, developers, operations employees, UX designers, and business stakeholders understand the UML notation. Therefore, when you need to create a collaborative and real-time CI/CD pipeline, try the UML diagramming process for quick success.
Integrated Definition for Function (IDEF) Modeling
If you are looking for a business process modeling technique that you can apply in every industry, you should start using IDEF. In mid-1970, the United States Air Force devised IDEF for functional modeling of business processes to data, object-oriented analysis, process simulation, knowledge acquisition, and user interface design.
IDEF is not an individual but a family of notation languages. There are 14 different IDEF versions, and each of these caters to specific modeling and simulation needs. For example, IDEF0 for functional modeling, IDEF2 for designing simulation models, IDEF7 for auditing IT systems, and IDEF14 for designing digital networks.
Best Business Process Modeling Templates
#1. Business Process Map by Lucidchart
On Lucidchart, you get a template for a business process map. This will let you show the steps needed to reach a particular outcome. It also displays the different decisions made during the process.
You can open this template on Lucidchart to customize it as per your business requirements. Using it, companies can analyze a process and improve it.
#2. iPhone Ordering Process BPMN – Creately
This advanced template from Creately gives you a collaborative view of an iPhone ordering process. You can choose this template and edit it on the cloud-based Creately app. This app has a special set of symbols under the BPMN flow category that you can use to customize this template.
#3. BPMN Template by Miro
Miro offers a BPMN template that can be used to keep everyone in the loop about the business process and avoid any misunderstandings. This process flow diagram is suitable for multiple industries. You use different symbols and objects to identify the flow and customize it according to your needs.
Business Process Modeling Tools
#1. IBM Blueworks Live
IBM Blueworks Live is a business process modeling tool for organizations that want to discover and map business processes in a better way. This cloud-based platform enables you to collaboratively document the processes.
It does not need any software download, and multiple teams can document and analyze processes using an intuitive and accessible web interface. Here, you can easily start documenting existing or new processes in a few minutes.
The software is also capable of analyzing existing processes so that you can identify areas that need improvement. Simple processes can be automated with this tool, and you can store process maps here to retain updated business operations records.
Cflow is not only a no-code code-free BPM tool but also an affordable solution for automating your workflow. You can seamlessly design your business workflow using its intuitive visual workflow builder. It can be used by small, medium, and enterprise businesses.
You can use this software to automate processes like IT operations, accounting and finance, procurement, sales, marketing, HR, and admin. This simple-to-use software enhances your productivity through automation. Moreover, it helps you manage and control all your workflows effectively.
The platform also encrypts the data for better security and uses AWS Datacenters. It also backs up all data on the cloud and lets you configure your backup policies.
So far, you may have understood that business process modeling is the foundation of various business improvement activities like automation, transformation, business continuity, etc.
If you have read the article til the end, you must have also understood various methods of BPM like BPMN, SIPOC, UML, and more. This article will be extremely helpful the next time you need to explain your business to a client, investor, or stakeholder. Simply use an appropriate technique, template, and tool from this article.
Tamal is a freelance writer at Geekflare. After completing his MS in Science, he joined reputed IT consultancy companies to acquire hands-on knowledge of IT technologies and business management. Now, he’s a professional freelance content… read more
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