Business Process Modelling is a method for improving organisational efficiency and quality. Its beginnings were in capital/profit-led business, but the methodology is applicable to any organised activity.
Put simply Business Process Modelling aims to improve business performance by optimising the efficiency of connecting activities in the provision of a product or service.
Business Process Modelling techniques are concerned with ‘mapping’ and ‘workflow’ to enable understanding, analysis and positive change. Diagrams – essentially ‘flow diagrams’ – are a central feature of the methodology.
While Business Process Modelling relates to many aspects of management (business, organisation, profit, change, projects, etc) its detailed technical nature and process-emphasis link it closely with quality management and the analytical approaches and responsibilities arising in the improvement of quality.
Business Process Modelling is a quality management tool, like for example Six Sigma, and is useful especially in change management.
purpose of business process modelling
A Business Process Model diagram is a tool – a means to an end, not a performance outcome in its own right.
The final output is improvement in the way that the business process works.
The focus of the improvements is on ‘value added’ actions that make the customer service and experience better, and on reducing wasted time and effort.
There are two main different types of Business Process Models:
- the ‘as is’ or baseline model (the current situation)
- and the ‘to be’ model (the intended new situation)
which are used to analyse, test, implement and improve the process.
The aim of modelling is to illustrate a complete process, enabling managers, consultants and staff to improve the flow and streamline the process.
The outcomes of a business process modelling project are essentially:
- value for the customer, and
- reduced costs for the company,
leading to increased profits.
Other secondary consequences arising from successful Business Process Modelling can be increased competitive advantage, market growth, and better staff morale and retention.
There are no absolute rules for the scope or extent of a Business Process Model in terms of departments and activities covered.
Before committing lots of resources to Business Process Modelling proper consideration should be given to the usefulness and focus of the exercise – ask the questions:
- Does the modelling have the potential to produce gains that will justify the time and effort?
- Will the modelling be structured so that people will understand the outputs (not too big and complex as to be self-defeating)?
- Do people understand why we are doing it, and “what’s in it for them”?
As with other management tools, there is no point producing a fantastically complex model that no-one can understand or use, just as it is a bit daft to spend hundreds of hours analysing anything which is of relatively minor significance.
Business Process Modelling is a powerful methodology when directed towards operations which can benefit from improvement, and when people involved are on-board and supportive.
Adding value for the customer
Adding value for customers, whether internal or external customers, is at the centre of a Business Process Model. It starts with a customer need and ends with the satisfaction of that need. Unlike a workflow diagram, which is generally focused on departmental activities, a BPM spans departments and the whole organisation.
This point about customers being internal as well as external is crucial:
Staff are among the internal customers of modern right-minded organisations.
If you approach Business Process Modelling purely from a systems and ‘things’ viewpoint with a fixation on costs and profitability, and squeezing every activity to its theoretical optimum, then people (notably staff) tend to get squeezed too.
Organisations work well when people enjoy and support the processes that they are required to perform, and you will only add sustainable value for your customers, when you also add value for your staff too.
Successful BPM added value for customers is self-sustaining because for staff it contains the magical WIIFM element – (What’s In It For Me).