Business Process Modeling Technique Brief


Quick Summary
Screenshot Business process models can help companies with process improvement, capturing requirements, automation, compliance, training, and more. This technique brief provides basic guidance on how to conduct a modeling effort, commonly used approaches, and how to avoid typical problems.


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What this is

Suggestions and recommendations for developing, implementing, and evaluating business process models. A business process model documents a business process—the work done to provide a service or product to customers—using a combination of graphics and text. There are many different modeling languages and techniques, but this guideline focuses on activity diagrams as the primary modeling tool.


Why it's useful

Business process models provide a framework for analyzing, and possibly changing, the steps taken to achieve specific business objectives. The resulting models can help with process improvement efforts, requirements capture, automation, standards compliance, training, and more, but the primary goal is to communicate. Modeling is more of an art than a science, and there are multiple ways to communicate the same thing. The key is to pick a way that is easy for your audience to use and understand.


How to use it

Whether the goal is to rework a single process or to perform enterprise-wide analysis, the steps to model and then improve a business's behavior are much the same:

  1. Identify a project sponsor and/or a steering group. This individual or group can provide executive sponsorship and define the objectives of the business process modeling exercise.
  2. Define the scope of the modeling effort. Start small, demonstrate success, and build on that success. Start with a relatively narrow scope before trying to work toward an enterprise-wide business process model.
  3. Select the appropriate people to assist with the business process modeling effort. Ensure adequate representation from each team impacted by the processes you're investigating.
  4. Decide on the right approach to your modeling effort, and communicate the plan to everyone affected. Make sure expectations are set appropriately and then work hard to deliver on those expectations.
  5. Document the business process, review the output, and then make the appropriate revisions. There will be a lot of changes as content is developed, so be flexible and accept ambiguity as the initial drafts are created. Over time, a stable model will develop.
  6. Create and realize an implementation plan designed to make the ideal future state a reality. Determine resources, assign tasks, and manage the timeline of these implementation tasks.
  7. Periodically review the implemented changes to ensure that the new processes are effective.
About the Author

Sinikka L. Waugh, PMP, is the founder and head coach of the project management coaching firm Your Clear Next Step, L.L.C. Sinikka is an actively practicing project management consultant, known for consistently helping teams find innovative ways to leverage effective project strategies across multiple disciplines and technologies. With over 10 years in project roles (primarily program manager, project manager, and business analyst) Sinikka has successfully applied project and leadership expertise to improve project performance in a wide variety of industries, including publishing, education, product fulfillment and distribution, insurance, event and travel management, human resources, and financial services. As a coach, SinikkaÕs down-to-earth, Òtry-this-nowÓ approach blends with her passion for helping others improve. Her energetic and engaging style helps make both the art and science of project management accessible to those she works with.

Sinikka holds a BA from Central College, an MA from the University of Iowa, and is a certified Project Management Professional through the Project Management Institute.


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