What is business process modeling?
Business Process Modeling (or BPM) formally captures an organization’s processes in a standardized form, typically for the purposes of analysis and improvement.
Typically in BPM, an organization’s current processes are captured as they exist at that point in time, and steps in processes are then tweaked to improve the performance, generalizability, or resilience of the overall process. BPM is widely used in management consultancy and operational research.
In total a BPM project consists of several unique stages:
- Process mapping: defining what needs doing, who is responsible, to what standard a process should be completed, and what the acceptance or success criteria are.
- Process discovery: capturing the steps involved in a current business process (and any variations of it) in writing (for example as a checklist), or in illustrated form (e.g. a flowchart).
- Process simulation: capturing a process in model form (i.e. as code). This allows processes to be tested safely in virtual environments under a wide variety of pre-specified or dynamically generated conditions.
- Process analysis: actively using process simulations and models to identify opportunities for improvement. This could be through running optimization experiments in a simulation, or more traditional means (e.g. conducting cost-benefit or value-added analyses.
- Process improvement: testing improvements to processes, measuring their performance, and iterating on them to achieve more, in less time, with fewer resources, with a greater degree of consistency and reliability.
Many BPM tools are only useful during steps one and two. HASH is an integrated, end-to-end solution for completing all five steps of a business process reengineering project.
Why use business process models?
- Enable measurement against a baseline. Without a sense of how a process should or does (in practice) work, performance monitoring is subjective. Good process modeling enables standards to be monitored and improved.
- Improve efficiency. By simulating the performance of processes in virtual environments, and running optimization experiments it is possible to automatically identify opportunity for cost-savings and output-improvements, contributing to a firm’s competitive advantage.
- Intuitively, visually represent steps in a process. Improve understanding of processes, make them more easily inspectable by others, and provide easy-to-follow blueprints that reduce “key person” or “bus factor” risks within a business.
- Ensure consistency in changing environments. During reorganizations it can become easy to lose track of critical steps in a process, and at the same time identify which steps may no longer be required. Good BPM helps in the identification of redundancies, waste, and duplicative work, whilst safeguarding mission-critical operations.
- Improve communication. Making processes and the steps within them explicit codifies informal knowledge and understanding, improving consistency, and eliminating guesswork (especially around exception-handling).
What are the best tools for creating business process models?
Many tools exist for creating business process models.
Older software typically only supports the mapping and discovery (often diagraming) of business processes. These are tools like Visio, Lucidchart, and Omnigraffle.
New software like HASH enable users to not only easily and simply draw out business processes, but also optimize their performance and robustness under a wide range of conditions through multi-agent simulation.
HASH can also ingest data obtained through process mining in order to automatically suggest processes for use in simulations, as well as receive live sensor or system data to measure the impact of real-world changes to processes as improvement experiments take place.