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Business Process Modelling

By this point, you’ve identified and analyzed the business processes that are most important to running your business, providing value and maximizing profits. You’ve created a multi-faceted image of the process and know exactly how it works—otherwise known as the “as is” process.

Now you’re ready to start thinking about the future: what you want that process to be. In other words, you’re ready to start working on business process improvement.

A quick note before we start. If your organization is new to business process management, start small. Try redesigning, implementing and optimizing one process, and see how things go. Business process improvement is itself a business process, so you want to make sure your improvement process works well before you start applying it on a large scale. As discussed in process analysis, you want to focus attention on the processes that:

  • have the biggest impact on the organization
  • show clear signs of dysfunction
  • are easy to manage

What does a good business process look like? Click here to find out.

So, how do you actually design and model a business process?

BPM by Novacura FlowThe easiest way to do this is in a workshop (or series of workshops) that put all the process stakeholders in a room together: the people who will use this process, the people whose own tasks depend on the efficiency of this process, process managers, process owners, and so on. A meeting like this might take 30 minutes, a few hours or even a few days, depending how complicated the process is.

Ideally, you should hold a workshop for each process. If you’re new to business process management, keep the Pareto principle in mind: 80% of issues come from 20% of causes. Focus on the 20%. The process choice might be obvious to everyone, but then again, it might not.

Review the “as is” process

You mapped the “as is” processes in the analysis stage. As you were mapping those processes, you probably noticed a few things that could be improved right away. Maybe one step of the process requires multiple approvals from multiple people, and getting all those approvals creates a bottleneck: that’s a clear area for improvement. Maybe there are parts of the process that can be automated, or maybe there are parts of the process that can be delegated. Take note of all the places where you think the process could be improved, and brainstorm ideas on how to improve them.

Decide how you want to make the process better

The most common goals of business process improvement are to:

  • reduce costs
  • remove bottlenecks
  • improve customer service
  • improve quality
  • meet regulations/compliance
  • decrease customer irritation

So, depending on your business goals and the purpose of the process, you may want to focus on one of these goals when deciding what action to take.

Some common actions you might want to consider include:

  • reducing the number of customer touch points
  • eliminate non-value-adding tasks
  • give employees more autonomy to collect data and make decisions
  • add/automate control tasks, like checking that all form fields have been filled out correctly
  • automate your more predictable and repeatable tasks

For each suggested change, ask the following questions

  • Do we have the right tools to make the changes we want to make, or do we need to source something?
  • What impact do we expect this change will have?
  • Will this change be easy to make, or will it require significant time and effort?
  • How confident are we that this change will make a positive impact?
  • Will a change like this require people to learn new skills, use new tools, or need other training to be successful?
  • How will we measure whether the change was successful? What key performance indicators (KPIs) will we monitor?

By the end of the workshop, you should aim to have consensus on what actions will be taken to improve the business process. You may even want to map out the new process.

Ideally, these workflows will already be connected to your systems too. If not, now’s the time to start thinking about what kind of BPM tool your business should use. We talk more about that on the business process implementation page.

Once you’ve determined what process changes you’re going to make, you need to think about the individual tasks in the process. For each task in the process, you need to consider:

  • how the task is triggered (what happens before the task)
  • how the task is completed (what happens after the task)
  • who owns, or is responsible for, the task
  • the points where work (or data) goes from one department to another
  • validation requirements: does the person or machine completing the task have everything they need to do their job correctly? This might be tools, materials or access to data.

If you can define these steps clearly, it will make training, automating, monitoring and optimizing your processes much easier.