Business Process Modeling: Definition, Benefits and How-to Guide

Updated Aug 3, 2022.
business-process-modeling

The goal of every business owner is to ensure their businesses perform to their full potential throughout the year. You can only achieve continuous business growth by understanding your business processes and how to achieve optimal outcomes from them.

Having a pictorial representation of all aspects of your business is important for running a successful business. You can create data-driven visualization of your business workflows and gain full visibility of your business process lifecycle through business process modeling.

This technique helps businesses to document workflows, provides transparency into business processes, track key metrics, identify potential risks and problems, and automate business processes for more efficiency. 

Business process modeling can bring about radical changes that improve your business productivity and efficiency. Professionals across different work areas such as sales, marketing, and project management, use business process modeling software to map out specific processes.

In this article, you will learn everything about business process modeling, including its use cases and the key features of business process modeling software.

Let’s get started.

What is Business Process Modeling?

Business process modeling (BPM) is the analytical or graphical representation and illustration of the business processes or workflow of an organization. This is mostly in the form of a flowchart developed to visualize the various business approaches and information dissemination.

The Business Process Management Initiative (BPMI) developed the business process modeling technique to depict business processes simply and easily for stakeholders, business partners, developers, managers, and others to understand.

Process modeling defines the methods with which business is carried for the sole purpose of achieving the set down goals of an organization. Business modeling tools assist organizations to improve business operations and manage workflow. 

You can implement BPM in different areas such as marketing, accounting, sales, technical support, manufacturing, and others.

Business Process Modeling Infographic
Source: Researchgate

Why Use Business Process Modeling

Business process modeling (BPM) is essential for understanding your business processes and maximizing positive outcomes from them. 

Organizations or enterprises that use business process modeling enjoy objective business intelligence which they can use to make data-driven decisions to improve business processes, allocate resources, and create workable business strategies.

BPM provides a clear view of business processes which helps teams to properly track their workflows and ensure they achieve the desired results. This helps to reduce operating costs, generate higher ROI, and secure stronger business outcomes.  

1. Improved Operational Efficiency

Business process modeling is an essential tool for optimizing business processes. Further optimization increases productivity, agility, efficiency, staff training, and utilization of resources. 

Implementing business process modeling assures executives in organizations of consistency and the ability to achieve set goals.

2. Transparency

Process modeling shows how work activities are carried out in detail. This helps to promote trust between the workers and stakeholders. With business process modeling, you can easily detect errors and find solutions to tackle them on time.

3. Documentation and Control

The business process model helps to provide necessary and proper documentation for analysis. Documentation including the detailed description of a business guides the development, maintenance, and improvements to be made on various systems. 

With process modeling in place, business processes become well designed which results in better decisions that give project managers, engineers, and team members adequate control of events

4. Streamlining and Automating Business Processes

Streamlining and automating business processes makes it easier to complete tasks. This helps to improve efficiency, simplify processes and make predictions. Unnecessary repetitions are avoided, and goals are achieved quickly and easily.

5. Aligning Business Processes with IT Strategy

Business process modeling promotes the combination of business processes with IT strategy to improve the business. This means every aspect of IT contributes to the progress of the business thereby making it more valuable. Excellent communication and a better focus on business goals are established. 

6. Reduced Costs

BPM helps you to quickly detect and correct errors to avoid additional expenses. With itsprocess automation feature, you can optimize business processes thereby reducing manual work that can lead to errors. Business process models do not cost a lot of investment and are cheaper to maintain.

Business Process Modeling Techniques

There are many techniques through which you can implement business process modeling in your organization.

1. Flowchart Technique

Flowcharts are visual representations that show the process of solving a task or workflow. The basic flowchart is a simple, popular, and widely used technique. Flowcharts are based on sequences. They help to find out and understand a particular process. 

A flowchart is a generic tool that can be used in various fields to inform, improve, plan, and separate complex processes into simpler terms. It helps in decision-making. Business process modeling uses flowcharts to visualize work processes for analysis, adjustments, and easy understanding. 

Flowchart Technique
Source: Smartdraw

2. Unified Modeling Language (UML) Diagram

A UML diagram is a type of diagram based on the Unified Modeling Language (UML) for representing all the roles, actions, and classes of a system for better understanding, maintenance, and analysis of information about the system. 

UML focuses on the software components and business processes documentation. This technique was initially used as a general modeling language in software engineering until it became implemented in documenting business workflow or processes. There are different types of UML such as class diagram, activity diagram, use case diagram, and others.

Unified Modeling Language diagram
Source: Visual Paradigm

3. Business Process Modeling Notations

Business process modeling notations (BPMN) is an advanced form of the flowchart model. BPMN is a graphical representation that depicts the steps of business processes from the beginning to the end. 

This technique allows businesses to understand their business methods and discuss these methods in a standard manner. BPMN makes use of standardized symbols to simplify, analyze and discuss business processes with all parties involved like employees, managers involved.

Business Process Management Notation
Source : Researchgate

Business process modeling notation is a flexible tool for achieving business process modeling tasks. This modeling notation is better for design and process analysis compared to flowcharts and UML because it is more explanatory and understandable.

The BPMN technique consists of several elements.

  • Swim lanes are useful for organizing different activities and grouping primary modeling objects.
  • Flow objects are graphical elements for defining the behavior of business processes.
  • Data symbols represent element types such as data objects, data inputs, data outputs, and data stores.
  • Connecting objects control the sequence of activities and workflow processes. They connect flow objects together and to other information. 
  • Artifacts are additional information about business processes. For example, texts and groups annotation.

4. Gantt Charts

A Gantt chart is a type of bar chart designed by Henry Gantt to illustrate project schedules. Gantt charts assist team members in planning, scheduling, managing, and organizing projects. This technique shows the starting date, duration, and progress at which a project is attaining. 

Gantt charts are used to control and keep projects on track. Similar to spreadsheets, you can create Gantt charts through the use of Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, Gantt chart software, or by downloading Gantt charts templates on the internet. 

Sales Process Template Gantt Chart
Source: InstaGantt

Business Process Modeling Use Cases

Business process models are a key business process management tool that offers full transparency into your business workflows. Although you can use business process models to analyze business processes for any scenario, here are some of the most common use cases.

1. Gaining All-round Insight into Business Processes

A single business process model contains lots of workflow data which enables team members to study and analyze workflows in different ways. Business process modeling is used in analyzing four major workflow components. 

  • Control Flow: This is the first component that shows the order of executing a business process. Team members get to easily identify the steps of the business process through the use of a flowchart.
  • Organization: This is the arrangement and assignment of individual tasks to each team member. It shows the connection and dependence of these components on each other. Examples of those involved are the teams, devices, systems, managers, stakeholders, and more. 
  • Time: A business process model records the time taken to complete a whole process and to accomplish each step in the process. Time records are taken to track delays, progress, and performance levels.
  • Case: This is the overview of a workflow. A process model summarizes the whole process and helps to analyze outcomes.

2. Optimizing and Standardizing Processes

Business process models depict the shortcomings of workflow to easily identify ways to optimize the processes. After optimizing workflows, you standardize them throughout the organization. Team members use the process model as a guide to predict results and workflows.

3. Analyzing New Processes

New processes are analyzed, evaluated, and predicted through the use of business process models. These process models of new processes are created to display the effectiveness of the workflow, give room for adjustments, and help to achieve optimization of the business process.

4. Analyzing Resource Usage

Business process models track resource usage, the total amount of money spent, and investments made. The purpose of tracking expenses is to know if profits are gained. 

With business process modeling, you can monitor the uses of devices and systems. If a particular system is unused or not beneficial, the organization might decide to not invest or divert fundings to a better and more productive option.

5. Communicating the Business Processes

Business process models make it easier to send and receive information, share ideas, and proper solutions in an organization. This is achievable because process models break down complex business processes into simpler forms that are easy to understand, discuss, and pass across the organization.

Key Features of Business Process Modeling Software

A business process modeling (BPM) software helps non-IT professionals to build business workflows easily by uniting different systems. Before you choose a business process modeling software, you need to look out for certain key features. 

  • Collaboration: Business processes require teamwork, cooperation, discussions, sharing of ideas through many forms of communication. Collaboration is necessary for maintaining focus, making improvements, and getting effective results. Team members can connect through the software to make long-term improvements.
  • Process Modeling and Design: BPM software is capable of representing business processes in a way that they can be easily analyzed and improved. This software must be able to shape and design business processes into digital workflows. Business process modeling is mainly for facilitating the discovery of information in an organization.
  • Process Mapping: A good BPM software must be capable of visualizing or illustrating the details of the business process of an organization from the beginning to the end. Process mapping is for showing work activity, outlining task owners and expected timelines and workflows. This helps to identify potholes and areas of improvement.
  • Easy Integration: Integrating business process model software with other software systems promotes business success. Doing this helps you automate manual tasks and data transfers. This software allows easy integration and the use of data across other systems.
  • Workflow Management: BPM tools can manage tasks, automate business processes, coordinate tasks execution, track data, and performance level. Workflows can also be customized and modified for efficiency, eliminating errors, and increasing work output.
  • Form Generator: Business process modeling software tools allow you to code, design graphics, and generate custom forms without any technical skills. Other features that can be offered by the BPM solutions are calendar fields, attachments of documents, dropdown menus, signature fields, and more.
  • Data Management and Analysis: A BPM solution must be capable of managing and making analyses of business data. It is important that the software supplies analytics that show new insights and data reporting. Reports must also be customizable and generated at any time.

Martin Luenendonk

Editor at FounderJar

Martin loves entrepreneurship and has helped dozens of entrepreneurs by validating the business idea, finding scalable customer acquisition channels, and building a data-driven organization. During his time working in investment banking, tech startups, and industry-leading companies he gained extensive knowledge in using different software tools to optimize business processes.

This insights and his love for researching SaaS products enables him to provide in-depth, fact-based software reviews to enable software buyers make better decisions.