Beginners Guide to Business Process Modeling

Original Article Posted on on November 28, 2016:

How to Approach a Business Process Modeling Project

Choosing an approach to BP Modeling is just as essential as performing it. The approach, based upon the actual task itself, is not a one-size-fits-all affair. Some classifications should be made before a project is undertaken. According to Bider, professionals should consider three factors: the actual business processes, the characteristics of the modeling environment, and the intended use of the model. These three factors may be broken down into specific business considerations.

  • The business processes – Businesses should consider their active and passive participants, how closely they are meeting their operational goals, how closely the process interacts with its environment, and the nature and orderliness of the process flow.
  • The characteristics of the modeling environment – For the modeling environment, businesses should consider the maturity of their existing processes and whether or not there are personnel available that understand the very formal notation.
  • The intended use of the model – Businesses should consider their objectives for designing models and what basis they are using to create models. For example, they could be trying to improve the current processes, providing analysis or reengineering, or building a new computer system.

Since there is no universal approach to BP Modeling, experts recommend considering all of the unique business factors. Some pros recommend a specified formal approach that gathers all of the information before choosing tools, while others recommend specific tools that have worked for them in the past. Two of our experts make their recommendations below.

Ray McKenzie, Founder and Principal, Red Beach Advisors, recommends, “As a management and business consultant for small- to medium-sized companies, a primary duty of mine is to develop efficient and optimized process for every organization to be productive. I always start with examining the problem and finding out the history of the problem, the different parts of the problem, and the effect the problem has on the business. Understanding the problem and components are core pieces to developing an effective process model to improve. Start with the problem. Examine the parties involved. Understand the current performance and measurements. Define the performance improvement goals. Outline an efficient process which drives results and displays success.”

According to Dani Peleva, Managing Director of Local Fame Ltd:

“When approaching a business process modeling task, I’d always break it through the prism of project management as it helps me get an idea of the objective of the system that needs engineering, the time the process needs to be completed for, as well as the resources available. Once you know what the requirements are, i.e. the purpose of the process is, what the deliverables are, the budget/resource constraints and so forth, it is a lot easier to approach the design/engineering stage.
When it comes to process engineering at Local Fame, we always have efficiency and effectiveness in mind – the most cost-effective, timely and optimized manner that a process can flow. For this purpose, I always approach the task from a few different angles – from the start of the process, as well as from the end of the process backwards. When you do not limit yourself with the direction of the process flow you can identify gaps and possible flaws in the strategy and implementation, as well as possible bottlenecks. Once I come up with a few different models I test those applying different scenarios in order to understand how sustainable those are in turbulent environment. This is when usually you sift through the best models and shortlist one or two successful ones.
Additionally, an intrinsic part of business process modelling for me is risk management, more specifically, identifying the potential flaws of the model and where and under what circumstances the model can fail. Identifying those weaknesses of the process helps you create contingency plans and backups, and as you often may find yourself, you get to optimize the process even further and scrap some of the chunks you initially considered essential, but later on realized you could go without. When thinking about risk management, however, one should know a risk could be both a positive and a negative, risk can create opportunities for the process to fail or get delayed, but also speed up and become more efficient, which again leads to the process optimisation and potential changes in the model. Tools I often use when doing business process modelling are Gliffy, Activiti Modeller, and Gantt charts.
To conclude, when modelling a process or re-engineering an existing one, I usually approach the task from a project management perspective analyzing the requirements fully before moving to the design stage. After design stage, I test the model numerous times in different scenarios and if needed I return to different stages to optimize and tweak it further. Lastly, I always think about risk management and contingency to make sure that the process is resilient and sustainable.”Original Article Posted on on November 28, 2016:

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