Business Process Modeling is the process of documenting the current or future state of a business process in a graphical format. Currently, the most popular way to do this is with the Business Process Modeling and Notation standard propagated by the OMG. A complete Business Process Model will contain the following information:
- The business event that triggered or started the process. This could the output of some other process, a client phone call, or pretty much any other triggering event.
- The actors who are involved with the process. Each actor is generally represented by their own swimlane in the BPMN diagram.
- The actions or tasks taken by the actors that in total make up the process.
- The sequence of the actions or tasks as they are executed within the process.
- Any decision points that lead to alternative sequence flows within the process.
- The end point of the process.
- In addition, if you use a timeline in your diagram, you can document the time frame that each action or task is taking place in.
Once complete, Business Process Models can be used for:
- Reference (to identify how a business process is expected to occur and who/what is involved in each process);
- Training (to show new or current staff how to carry out a business process);
- Analysis (as part of process improvement initiative; as part of a [[Gap Analysis]] effort when substantial changes are being made such as a new software platform; as part of a [[Stakeholder Analysis]] effort to identify project stakeholders)
- Development (as a way of specifying the “to be” state for a change management/process improvement/or software development effort)
- It is rarely advisable to try and show every last step in single process model unless the process is very simple. For more complex activities or tasks within a process, make them a process of their own.
- If your software allows it, try making each swimlane a different (generally pale) color. This helps visually separate the actors and the tasks that each performs.
- Wikipedia – entry for Business Process Modeling
- Paper – Seven Process Modeling Guidelines by J. Mendling, H.A. Reijers, and W.M.P. van der Aalst. (2009)
- Article – Top Ten Tips and Tricks For Business Process Modeling, by George Bridges, PMP. Located on the International Institute for Learning (IIL) site.
- An Article Series on the SAP web site from Bruce Silver called Process Modeling with BPMN
- Book – Bruce Silver’s BPMN Method and Style is considered one of the primary references for business process modeling with BPMN. If you don’t mind a Kindle version, I have seen the Kindle version go for 20% of the total price of the bound version.