November 15, 2019

Best Business Process Modelling Tools: A Guide for CFOs

Finance Leadership
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Financial leaders have a lot to manage. There are many software and automation tools to help make your job easier. When it comes to tracking business transactions and forecasting the future accurately, automation creates efficiency. But, before such devices are implemented, it pays to monitor internal processes. A business’ success all begins with its organisational structure and day-to-day operations. Technological tools can assist in this realm, too.

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Business process modelling tools are designed to help organisations align their inner workings to meet their overall business goals. 

What is Business Process modelling?

Business process modelling (BPM), also known as process modelling, is creating a visual representation of business processes. Business process modelling software creates these representations for you to analyse, improve and monitor. 

The main point of using Business Process Modelling is to get a clear look at current operations and model how they can be better. Then, you can implement changes throughout your organisation to achieve optimisation. 

Why Does it Matter?

Within an organisation, a lot happens daily that can go unnoticed. By being able to see how processes work, the business can improve for both internal and external stakeholders. Business Process Modelling tools matter because it allows your organisation to:

  • Align operations with business goals
  • Improve communication within a process 
  • Increase control and consistency
  • Gain a competitive edge
  • Create visual models of processes
  • Identify bottlenecks and run “what if” analyses
  • Respond more quickly to changing market conditions
  • Improve transparency and gain insight on processes 

Within financial teams, processes are often created and then continued without changes for years. However, at that time, rules and regulations undoubtedly evolve. In the same vein, customers’ needs change, too. This makes it essential to continuously revisit how processes are functioning because if something isn’t right, there can be detrimental financial consequences from lack of compliance. It is your job as a CFO to tackle these inefficiencies and support the business to achieve optimisation of resources and output. 


Business Modelling Techniques

Once you realise that business process modelling is an essential component to benefit business performance positively, you’ll want to choose the technique that’s best for your needs.

There are a variety of business modelling techniques to choose from. Here’s a look at some of the most common methods: 

  • Business process modelling notation (BPMN): This is a flowchart that outlines processes from beginning to end. It’s meant to allow people to understand how a process works with clear visuals. The modelling is done with elements and symbols, including flow objects, connection objects, swimlanes and artifacts. Each of these elements defines a process. BPMN is meant to be standardised so that all sequence flows are horizontal and associations are depicted vertically. 
  • UML Diagrams: UML stands for unified modelling language and is a diagramming notation (or language). UML diagrams are known to be very complicated. However, for business process modelling, they can be simplified to represent the following: the players and their roles, how the players interact with each other, and the path they take to complete a process within an organisation. UML for process modelling can be simplified much more than it can be when used in software engineering. UML diagrams can be divided into two types - structural and behavioural. When it comes to CFOs and financial teams to outline processes, you’ll most likely need to employ the behavioural diagram that can be a use case diagram, sequence diagram or activity diagram. 
  • Flowcharts: Flowcharts are a natural way to diagram the steps of a process. With BPM, you can click on commands, and the platform will draw the chart for you. If you have yet to define a process or are implementing something new, templates exist for your use. 
  • Yourdon’s Data Flow Diagrams: Data flow diagrams map outflow of information. With the use of defined symbols/shapes, they are useful for both technical and non-technical processes and users. In the diagram, symbols are representative of four components, namely: external entities, processes, data storage and data flow. 
  • Gantt Charts: Gantt charts are heavily used for project management. Named after Henry Gantt, a Gantt chart is a bar chart of sorts that outlines a schedule. They are useful to describe how long a process will take, understand what resources will be needed and plan the order of operations. 
  • PERT Diagrams: A PERT diagram stands for Program Evaluation Review Technique. Initially developed by the U.S. Navy, PERT diagrams are used for project management by the private sector. They outline a process using numbered nodes to represent events or milestones. Vectors connect these nodes, or directional lines, that resemble the tasks for the project. They can showcase functions that are meant to happen in tandem with one another rather than showing something that has to be completed before the next phase can begin. 
  • Functional Flow Back Diagrams: As the name implies, an operational flow back diagram outlines a time-sequenced process. It shows tasks and directional arrows that signify what must be accomplished before the next step can take place. It can also be used to represent necessary data for a step to happen. 
  • Integrated Definition for Function Modelling (IDEF0): IDEF0 is performed to analyse a process. It represents functions with blocks and visually shows the relationship of a child to a parent within a process. To create IDFM, you want first to define the process using a verb, or action. Then, you outline the inputs, outputs, control systems, support systems, parent systems, child systems, and then you can create your model. 

What Can Business Process Modelling Tools Help?

There are a variety of software tools that were created to help business leaders employ business process modelling quickly. Processes should be continuously analysed to locate bottlenecks that could appear over time. 

Here is a list with some software tools that can help you outline your business processes:

  • Gliffy: With no download involved, you can use the web-based tool Gliffy to create diagrams online. The flowchart software operates with a drag and drops tool to make it easy to construct your flowchart and collaborate/share with your team. 
  • LucidChart: Like Gliffy, LucidChart is another online diagram tool to create flowcharts, business process models, and mock-ups. It can be easily integrated with Google Docs and used for various departments within your business, including Sales, Development, HR, Project Management, Operations, etc. 
  • ArgoUML: For UML, ArgoUML offers an open-source solution. It requires Java to run and offers support documents to help you create your diagrams.


CFOs Need BPM Tools Here’s Why

As previously mentioned, a CFO is meant to serve as a strategic partner to the CEO. Together, they need to be able to make informed decisions to keep the business operating at its best. Business process modelling is key to making sure that this can happen. 

This type of modelling can help you see how processes are currently running or how they could be running. Making changes, especially within a financial department, comes with a lot of challenges. From buy-in to monitoring to maintaining processes that comply with regulations, methods have to be carefully overseen. However, there is so much happening at once that things can easily fall through the cracks. 

Nowadays, implementing the proper techniques and automation toolstack can protect your business. For example, once you use business process modelling to evaluate how things are operating, you will be able to pinpoint places for improvement. With that, you can introduce or expand data automation tools within your organisation, like those from SolveXia

By automating low-level and repetitive tasks, you can free your team to focus on analysis and big-picture action items. SolveXia helps by automating business processes and providing real-time dashboards to measure KPIs. With all your data in one, secure place, you can optimise business processes and increase transparency within your team. 

With it is brand grade secure platform, processes can easily be set up so that only individual employees have access to data, while also allowing for a smooth transition of roles if staff are sick, on holiday or leave the company.

Its deep analytics and audit trails allow for deep insights into processes that are working well, and those that have weaknesses so that any issues can be spotted in real-time.

Everything Comes Full Circle 

The executive suite decides on business goals and business strategy. However, without measuring the processes that work towards accomplishing these goals, how is one to know what’s working and what needs fixing? 

By using tools such as SolveXia, everyone within an organisation can be privy to the success and failure of a particular process. Then, you can know where to allocate resources to make changes and procure operational effectiveness to accomplish your business goals better

Download Now: A New Approach to Business Process

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