May 12, 2020

Business Process Modelling: Your Guide

Process Improvement
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Are you aware of the inner workings of your organisation’s workflows? Would you want to improve work processes if you knew there were issues? Business process modelling can help you understand what’s going on and allow you to provide paths to make processes better. 

As a leader in your business, it’s up to you to make sure that operations are moving efficiently within your team. However, there are a lot of moving pieces and people to keep track of. With the help of business process modelling (BPM), you can visualise workflows and identify the areas that need improvement. 

What is Business Process Modelling? (& Other Key Terms) 

To better understand what business process modelling is, here are some key terms that help to explain what it is and what it isn’t. 

All of these terms and techniques work together to make your business processes the most efficient that they can be. 

  • Business Process Mapping: Business process mapping is very high-level. It provides a top-down visualisation of business processes. The mapping gives stakeholders and leaders an overview of the inner workings for increased transparency and understanding. 
  • Business Process Modelling: Business process modelling is the graphical representation of workflows with the primary goal to identify opportunities for improvement. Process modelling is created with graphical images, including data flow diagrams, flowcharts and the like. 
  • Business Process Management: Business process management is a long-term strategic and analytical method that provides ongoing support and solutions to enhance business processes. This is a methodology that requires constant attention, oversight and problem-solving techniques. 
  • Business Process Improvement: Business process improvement involves the mapping, analysis and development of a specific process. It falls under the umbrella of business process management, but it defines the tailored steps used to enhance a particular process.  
  • Business Process Reengineering: Similar to Business Process Improvement,  Business Process Reengineering helps redesign business processes with the use of technology. It works on a bigger scale than Business Process Improvement. 


Top Benefits of Business Process Modelling 

Business process modelling offers a way to understand and improve their processes. It is used to define “as-is” processes so that leaders can design “to-be” processes to lower costs and boost efficiency. Business process modelling’s visual representation brings all the inner workings of business together for review. Essentially, connecting these dots helps to:

  • Improve Operational Effectiveness: When you can see how processes work visually, you can also pinpoint issues and make them better. Therefore, you can achieve operational effectiveness. Operational effectiveness means that you can maximise the use of inputs, whether it be resources or human labour. 
  • Align Operations and Define Best Practices: Business process modelling allows an organisation to set up best practices by adjusting and aligning current workflows to align with business goals. When your entire team is organised and knows how to accomplish their goals, then the business flows seamlessly towards success. 
  • Boost Agility: If business process modelling becomes standard practice, then employees and stakeholders will develop a culture and mindset geared towards continuous process improvement. This means that when changes have to happen, people are on board, and the business is agile. 
  • Increases Transparency: Outlining processes and developing flowcharts is an easy way to increase transparency. Not only will employees understand their co-workers’ roles better, but upper management will also know who to go to for what aspect of any task. 
  • Beat the Competition: In the long run, business process modelling is bound to offer your organisation a competitive advantage. The success of your outputs depends on your inputs and the process by which the work occurs. When you have this neatly mapped out, and everyone is aware of their duties, performance is enhanced. 
  • Improve Communication: Communication is at the heart of all processes. When processes are modelled, communication has to be clear for it to achieve its purpose. More often than not, one of the primary ways in which process improvement occurs is through better communication, whether it be at the hands of technology and automation tools, or because of employees talking. 

Business Process Modelling Methods 

Every organisation will have their preferences for how to conduct business process modelling. However, there are open industry standards and expected ways to ensure it’s properly completed. Here’s a look at some standard BPM methods. 

  • BPMN: Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) is an industry-standard method for designing flowcharts. It’s not about the person who makes the map, but rather, it’s a standard key for what objects to use in the mapping. For example, events are defined by circles with various width borders, and activities are rectangles, and so on. 
  • Flowcharts: This is as straightforward as it sounds. You can use a flowchart, or visual diagram, that outlines how the process flows from start to finish. 
  • Data Flow Diagrams: Not to be confused with flowcharts, data flow diagrams (DFDs) shows the external sources of data and how it flows into a process. It also explains how data is stored within a system and is exchanged within a process. 
  • Universal Process Notation: Universal Process Notation (UPN) is a simple way to outline a process that also involves responsible parties. It is done by creating a box for each task. Inside each box, you notate what happens, who performs the step and when it happens within the sequence. UPN can be used for all sorts of processes, including work that IT does to designers creating a product.  
  • Gantt Charts: Gantt charts outline a process using time on the axis. It’s a useful process modelling option for projects that are time-sensitive or measured by the amount of time they may take to complete. For example, project managers launching a new website are likely to rely on Gantt Charts to pace and track milestones. 


How to Do Process Modelling

To get started with business process modelling, follow these steps: 

1. Outline current process: Choose the process you want to begin with and select your method for modelling the process. Be sure to involve the people who work on the process daily because they know the most about it. 

2. Identify inefficiencies: The key here will also be your team. Have them help point out where inefficiencies reside. For example, inefficiencies can stem from the beginning of a process like completing employee expense reports because of poor data entry. 

3. Outline potential improvements: Brainstorm how you can enhance and expedite the process. For example, in the above case, if there’s a problem with data entry, consider introducing an automation process that can manage the manual work for your employees. 

4. Define the scope and data requirements: To make the necessary process improvements, what resources will you need? One resource you may need but can go overlooked is the type of data that a process would require to execute a command. Be sure you have the right data storage and technical resources to handle your needs. 

5. Design to-be process: Map out how you want a process to be. This is the end-point that you will ideally get to when you work on changing your processes. 

6. Test the solution: The solution ought to achieve its intended results. To be sure of this, test your new process. 

7. Train the process: If the new process holds up and is offering the benefits, you had hoped for, share it with the necessary people on your team. Give adequate training so that everyone is aware of the process and can help ensure it is adopted.  

What’s needed in Process Modelling Software

It’s not often you’ll find just one tool that meets all your business’ needs. However, some will prove handier than others. The best things to consider when introducing business process modelling tools into your organisation are: 

  • Cost
  • Ease of use 
  • BPMN compliance

The Wrap Up 

Understanding how to use business process modelling to your benefit can result in a competitive advantage. Business process modelling will also help your organisation be more efficient. It’s not always clear where pitfalls reside with a business because people at the top get caught up with the bigger picture. With BPM, you can see the nuances within your organisation clearly and easily. 

Additionally, you can choose to leverage technology, like automation. When you bring automation software into your business, you can better streamline your processes. Automation software offers you transparency into how your operations are run and can provide live information on what step is currently occurring within the system.

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