Business Process Modeling With Business Process Model And Notation (BPMN 2.0) Diagrams

The key to an effective and smoothly run business is the efficiency and cohesive integration of its business processes. A business process describes the steps taken to complete any objective, task or service within a business. Processes can be divided into three distinct categories:

• Management processes – processes that describe business strategy and organizational structure.
• Operational processes – interaction between business and customer, core business activity.
• Supporting processes – e.g. health and safety, accounting, recruitment.

The most effective method of creating or analyzing a business process is to visually interpret the steps using a business process diagram, flowchart or workflow. This is known as business process modeling, and will be performed within a company by a team who have detailed knowledge of company process, and analysts with expertise in the modeling discipline. The objective is often to increase production or lower costs – by modeling the process initially using a flowchart, inefficiencies and problems can be spotted before committing to a decision or strategy.

Given the fluid, global nature of business at present, it is perhaps a necessity to have a standardized notation system with which to describe the steps that make up different business processes. Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) v2.0 is a method for visualizing information in a way that’s intuitive for business analysts, and also allows existing processes within a business to be compared and integrated effectively.

The aim of BPMN is assist in creating a diagram that is immediately understandable to all business stakeholders, with graphic elements that can be adapted to represent any form of function, decision, work or data flow. The symbols and structure it uses to do this can be divided into a number of categories:

• Flow objects – Includes Events, which are parts of a process that happen automatically, denoted by a circle; Activities show work that needs to be done, shown as a round-cornered rectangle; Gateways show a splitting or merging of paths, using a diamond shape.

• Connecting objects – Used to connect flow objects, either as Sequence Flow, which indicated the order of activities; Message Flow, a dashed line that shows interaction between organizational boundaries, shown on diagrams as ‘Pools’; Association is a dotted line used to connect an ‘Artifact’ or text to an activity.

• Swim lanes – The widest possible overview of a process involving different organizations is known as a Pool. Different organizations each have their own Lane within the Pool, and are connected using Message Flow connecting objects.

• Artifacts – Artifacts are pieces of information added to certain Activity flow objects to giver better understanding to those viewing the process diagram. They can be data required or produces, extra activities, or simply explanatory text.

• Choreographies – These symbols allow the opportunity to show an activity or step that describes the behavior between business participants.

• Expanded objects – These symbols can be used to expand one area of a process, and see an activity or function at a higher level of detail.

ConceptDraw have designed a solution that combines BPMN v2.0 methodology and graphical notification into one powerful package. The Business Process Diagrams solution from ConceptDraw Solution Park provides a comprehensive collection of vector stencil libraries that contain pre-designed, standardized BPMN v2.0 symbols, as well as a number of templates that help you map out business processes and strategy in a variety of styles.

Keeping Business Processes Simple

Einstein once said that everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. This is true in every aspect of life including the way business processes or methods are implemented within the workplace. There are various ways to ensure that business processes meet the needs of the organization and the company in general. One great way is to make sure that all process improvements somehow make doing business simpler.

The key to process improvement is that simpler is better and there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Just as the wheel continues to turn and spin, so must business methods be continually reviewed and improved. Unfortunately, continuous process improvement sometimes leads to these methods becoming more complicated over time. Therefore, the implementer should always strive to make business methods simpler with each improvement iteration. In my experience, it is far easier to make processes more complicated than it is to keep them simple hence keeping things simple is more difficult than one might think. To help keep processes from becoming too complicated over time, process implementers should ensure that along with metrics to measure the effectiveness of the process, there should also be metrics in place to measure the efficiency of the process itself.

We have a saying around my house that applies not only to life, but even more so to any business process: “That which gets measured gets done.” While I repeat this to myself as I create my daily “to do” lists, this maxim is also meaningful in the life of business. In my opinion, all business processes should be measurable. If they are measured, they will get done. Just as many software applications have a built-in tracking system to measure their efficacy, business processes should have built-in process metrics to determine the effectiveness of what the business does.

At the same time, business processes can’t be too rigid. Flexible processes, ones that can be adapted and used in a variety of situations, are those that will endure. This is especially true for efficient and simple processes. It would be futile to create a process that is difficult to change and challenging to use. In order to attain process excellence, the process implementers need to remember Einstein’s quote and seek the simplest process possible within reason. With a little business process management practice, we can achieve outstanding business returns through the implementation of simple, yet measurable and effective processes.

Business Process Management – Promoting Creativity, Efficiency, Flexibility and Effectiveness

Business management also called holistic management is a way an organization will align its business processes to suit the needs of its clients, by promoting creativity, efficiency, flexibility and effectiveness. You could also call it as a process of optimization of the process itself. Accordingly, the Business Process Management software is able radically to change the old traditional method to new and effective processes.

If you are an ambitious entrepreneur, scouring the horizon for ways and means to bring an overall improvement to your company’s business, you certainly need to review ways to incorporate improvement and foster support to the various business processes involved. The software is not only the ideal platform to achieve your goals in this regard on a day-to-day basis, but also manages, maximizes and improves all your business processes, and additionally, helps identify, document and automate them at most affordable rates. In other words, Business management software provides businesses with ideal cost-effective solutions for achieving their goals by following efficient and reliable processes and creating a diagram for business program. Systematic implementation of these processes will ensure enviable pecuniary returns.

The Internet and its online business directories are rich pastures in your search for cost-effective the software that can streamline and enhance the fine quality of your business processes. You can see several options for the software, but to find one that is reliable and useful; you must work hard to find an authentic provider, whose software has an easy interface and convenient options. Read a few reviews, meet a few friends for their opinions and consult your business associates fort their opinions on the subject before you take the plunge to buy.

Automating the business processes and integrating it with available data is a main feature of the Business Process Management software, which reaches far outside the automating processes and allows user to tune his system and progress towards better client needs and business success, to beat the competition easily.

Business management integrates the different capabilities of the middle-ware technology, which goes beyond the perimeters of the available operating system, to provide services to some software applications. Business Management also traces a shortest conduit from the visualization to the completion stage and in the process endeavors to improve and optimize the core part of your business. All business process is flexible and is never a universal fit to every application in business. Sometimes forward progress calls for shorter steps at the back office or you may have to go in for optimizing the process to extract that competitive edge in business.

Business Process Software – Radical Improvement After the Eventful Advent of Open Source Integration

Business process involves a serious assortment of actions including inputs, techniques and outputs that lead to a profitable conclusion. Position the inputs in place, then apply the techniques, and now you will see the outputs.

Every business, its shareholders and customers look forward to value-addition in all ways possible, and the best way to achieve this is by applying the techniques of business procedures, which is a healthy conglomeration of related structural actions that deliver the results for you. Sometimes this process could be an offshoot of a larger program, necessitating the smooth integration of other process models with its own.

Enhancing Access to Users

Through trial and error, and by experience, most organizations have come to accept the grave importance and success that processes, especially supported by business process software, bring to the daily conduct of their businesses. Erstwhile, most businesses had exclusively to depend on monopolistic expensive solutions, controlled by just a few, that made a comprehensive and expensive re-engineering of their IT infrastructure obligatory. For this reason, and their unwillingness to get caught in a monopolistic trap, many organizations who saw the clear benefits of the process dragged their feet in procrastination.

Soon relief appeared in the form of open source integration companies that removed the erstwhile technical and financial irritants, to enable all organizations to garner the benefits of a business process optimized by high power technology.

A universal Business Process Software

With the eventful advent of open source solutions that applied to management of data and application integration, using BPM space, these new innovative providers now brought business software within the affordable reach of any business that wants it. The cost and your budgetary restrictions need not stop you from downloading these open source solutions, as they are very free business software, packed with rich features and ready for instant use with versatility beyond your wildest dreams. This open source platform facilitates easy interlinking of diverse databases or project application in any IT infrastructure.

Most developers, analysts and business managers find Open Source business process software easy to use in literally every stage of process development, including the optimization process. They also help in the following processes:

1. The drag and drop design renders business odeling a graphical workspace
2. Provides the facility for analysts to check processes against variable inputs and perimeter conditions
3. Enhances process integration by allowing external process events to leverage the processing capabilities of the business process
4. The authoritative and measurable BPM engine drives the deployment and execution of processes
5. Customizable KPI reports and dashboards facilitate process monitoring

A Few Thoughts on Business Process Re-Engineering (BPR)

Business Process Re-Engineering (BPR) in its truest form should always take a top down approach to ensure it’s efforts are in full alignment with the core vision for the corporation, it’s core values, it’s overall desired business model and the core purpose and tasks that the corporation needs to perform well to deliver the products, services and value to its customers that help it to be successful and profitable. True, often targeted BPR efforts take place deep within a corporation where only small subsets of it are being re-architected, but knowledge of the above visions, values and models should never be lost sight of even in a targeted effort.

Following are several guiding “Principles” or “Best Practices” that have given me practical guidelines to use with clients when undertaking process re-engineering projects. A couple are mine and a few are from others such as Mike Hammer in his 1994 book “Re-Engineering the Corporation”. Keeping people cognizant of these Principles throughout a BPR effort can help keep your process facilitation workshops with a client on track. Just point to these principles when you see a person with a “personal stakes or agenda” trying to take you off on a tangent due to personal interests. It helps bring them back into alignment.

1. We will develop new processes in alignment with the Business Vision and the core tasks of the corporation rather than trying to fix existing processes.

2. Business Process Re-engineering will be done in partnership with business, application, and technology personnel to ensure the best possible results.

3. We will not place constraints on the definition of the problem nor the scope of the re-engineering effort. The focus will be on complete process streams, not organizational departments.

4. We will not allow existing corporate cultures and management attitudes to interfere with finding the best possible solutions for the organization as a whole.

5. A professional with the required skillset will lead each process design effort.

6. We will not pull back when we encounter resistance and will not settle for just marginal improvements in processes.

7. We will remember that the “Needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one”. (Borrowed from a Star Trek Movie – but I loved it’s applicability to BPR!)

As you facilitate, there are a few concepts to keep in mind as you work your way through these workshop sessions:

· Avoid getting too detailed too quickly. Work at a high level initially and then gradually drill down into greater levels of detail.

· Follow the 80/20 rule. Concentrate on the processes and applications that affect 80% of the people first and only tackle the other 20% if there is time.

· Define a gap as “Anything the vanilla software doesn’t do”. If the process can’t change, add it to the gap list and move on to the next process or functionality requirement. Don’t get bogged down trying to solve the gap.

· Don’t get stuck on the idea of “But that’s how we do it now”. Be open minded to new approaches.

High level often found process categories resident within a corporation could include the following.

1. Strategic Business Processes: These processes deliver value to the organization in terms of using history and other management information to make key strategic decisions. Four core business process types often include the following:

· Leadership Processes

· Strategic Planning

· People and Process Effectiveness

· Manage Alliance Partners and Stakeholders

2. Core Tasks: These are the direct tasks or processes that deliver value to customers and stakeholders. Common core tasks might include:

· Design Products

· Develop Products

· Market Products

· Sell Products

· Assemble Products – Integrated Supply Chain + Factory Activities

· Transport Products – Logistics

· Service and Support Products

3. Support Processes: These processes provide indirect support, yet are no less important, to the delivery of core value to customers and stakeholders and could include the following:

· Financial Stewardship

· Human Resources

· Environment & Safety

· Contracts Management

· Public Relations and Communications

· Facilities Engineering

· Maintenance

· Legal & Insurance

· Records Management

In general, all processes having direct contact with the customer and/or forming part of the value creation chain for the customer can be viewed as being external processes. As these activities are the main interface with the customer, they should be developed and guided to ensure the maximum level of empowerment to enable staff to get as close to the customer as possible to fulfill the customer requirement on first contact. This assumes that employees are supported by the appropriate level of automation and training within a solid framework of policies to allow transactions and interactions to be handled within an adequately controlled environment.

The processes that create value for the organization by enabling control, planning, management, etc. may be seen as being internal processes. These are less geographically dependent on customer location and can be located wherever makes logical sense.

For those initiating efforts to improve the way their organization does business, I hope these few principles and guidelines will help you to be more successful.

About Dan Grijzenhout: Dan has lived a successful entrepreneurial career for over 30 years. He has been a consultant, entrepreneur, investor and business owner and is now using this knowledge to assist corporations with tips and insights that they might find useful as they look to improve their operations.

Business Process Management: Understanding and Implementing

If yours is a business with several departments, at one point you start to realize that in order to stay competitive, increase productivity and bring efficiency to your business, you need to optimize and automate some of your business processes. To identify which parts of your business activities are required to be optimized, first you need to have a clear understanding of the processes involved in your particular business.

What is a Business Process?

A business process is a series of specific, measured tasks performed by people and systems and designed to achieve a predetermined outcome. The processes have these important characteristics:

The processes have internal and external users.
They take place across or between organization’s departments or different organizations.
They are based on how work is done in the organization.

The business processes have three key elements – Entity, Object, and Task.

Entities: Where the process occurs.

Objects: The processes are results of handling objects. Objects could be physical or informational.

Tasks: Works done to handle the objects.

The followings are examples of business processes:

Mortgage application processing

Credit verification

Product development

Travel planning

Opening a new account

Answering to a Request for Quote

Shipping a product

Companies are trying to improve their business processes using computer technology starting ever since the computer technology has emerged. Initial emphasize was given to enterprise resource planning. Main areas where automation was adopted were production, accounting, procurement and logistics. The next step was sales and marketing automation. Next came customer relationship management and supplier relationship management. Last couple of years we are seeing implementation of Business Process Management across the board. Companies are adopting BPM in the areas where it could make real differences. Some of these processes involve several departments of the company and some are result of real-time interaction of the company with its suppliers, customers and other business partners.

Interest in BPM is growing really fast, according to a report from Forrester Research, one-third of organizations surveyed by the firm are currently using or piloting BPM, a dramatic increase compared with mid-2002, when just 11% were trying BPM.

What is Business Process Management (BPM)?

BPM automates and streamlines the business processes which are crucial for the organization in order to improve productivity. From hiring a person to processing a purchase order, BPM helps restructuring, controlling and handling workflows involving people and systems to complete a process more efficiently.

To use BPM effectively, companies must focus on the outcome of the process and design workflows based on the expected result from the process. There should not be any difference between a task done by computer systems or people. BPM should be able to map the interaction among the entities, objects and tasks and bring them inline with the process workflow. Business rules used in the process also should be clearly defined. While trying to automate a business process you have to keep in mind that finding a process which should be streamlined is not that difficult! Problem occurs when you try to define which entities are involved and how the evolved method will distribute the previous roles among the new tasks owners.

The benefits of BPM adoption are enormous:

Direct

Update processes in real time
Reduce overhead expenses
Automate key decisions
Reduce process maintenance cost
Reduce operating cost
Improve productivity

Indirect

Improve process cycle time
Improve forecasting
Improve customer service
Improve sourcing time cycle

How to figure out which of the business processes you need to automate?

Companies are using BPM systems to automate virtually every aspect of their businesses. A company for example might have priorities to automate their sales activities, requisition process, procurement process, warehousing, call center, etc. However, the focus initially should be given on those areas that meat the following criteria:

The business process should be crucial for productivity improvement
Savings from automation is clearly visible
Return on Investment from implementation is high and preferably immediate

Since your business has unique characteristics which differ from others, you might have business processes that have exceptional business rules. Normally, this type of business processes need maximum attention and substantial resources. Business Process Management tools are great in handling exceptions. Use BPM systems to streamline these processes.

What are BPM Systems?

BPM Systems are applications that help organizations to automate their business processes end to end from a workflow task to process outcome so that they can reduce process costs, improve productivity and bring efficiency to their business.

A successful implementation of BPM systems requires clear understanding of organization’s business processes, business rules, and willingness of the management and workers to embrace new way of doing business.

Your Enterprise Portal can be the BPM platform you need

Your company Portal is the access point for your customers, vendors, business partners and staff to company information and services. A typical company Portal is an integrated website of Intranet, Extranet, Repositories, Procurement and Sales Systems, Customer Relationship Services, etc. Today, advanced Portals are also integrating Business Process Management Systems, which enables automation of workflows that model end-to-end business processes.

In any business process the owners of the process, the users and the objects interact at many levels, such as starting a process, monitoring the process, doing a task, creating new activity, approving a task, etc. In order to reflect the business processes, their progress and interaction with users and owners, a dashboard is used. You can easily integrate any business process into your company Portal and display needed workflows, notifications, charts, performance indicators as a dashboard on it.

Conclusion

Investment in BPM is the same as any other technology related investment. If you plan the project properly, set a clear goal, educate the people those who have to change their mindset once the system is implemented and get necessary support from the management, you can count on a massive return on your investment.

How To Make Your Business Process Management (BPM) Mobile Friendly

So just exactly what is a business process? In a nutshell, it’s how your company does business. Now this might sound rather simple to you, but it turns out that most of the business processes that our firms use to do business are complicated multi-step beasts and are increasingly dependent on the importance of information technology.. The arrival of everyday mobile devices has had a major impact on how firms perform their processes. As the person with the CIO job, it’s going to be up to you to help map mobile apps into the company’s existing processes.

Four Things That IT Has To Do To Make Business Processes Mobile

I’ve got some bad news for the person in the CIO position: there is no magic bullet when it comes to making mobile apps work with the company’s processes. Instead, what your IT department is going to have to do is a number of different things. Here are four of the most important:

Go On A Fieldtrip: Before you can start to make decisions about how to add mobile apps to your company’s processes, you are going to have to first understand those processes. This won’t be easy: few people in the company will fully understand them. IT staffers are going to have to go outside of the IT department to collect the process information that will be needed.

Think Big: When it comes to mobilizing a company’s processes, the one thing that you don’t want to do is to think small. Don’t allow a small group of experts to work on this problem in the back corner of an office. Rather, involve as much of the company as possible and make the mobilization of the core processes everyone’s responsibility.

Change To Match Your Apps: Business processes were never created to be set in stone. Rather, they are designed to be updated and modified as things change. The IT department will be the first to know when the company is rolling out a new mobile app. When this happens, take the time to go back to the business apps that it affects and update them to make use of the new mobile app.

Become Social: In the brave new world that we live in, social media can play a big role in every aspect of a company’s business. The IT department is often at the forefront of how the company interacts with the various social media channels. Using new mobile apps, the information about what your customers want and need that is gained needs to be fed back into the processes so that it can be used to boost the company’s success.

What All Of This Means For You

It probably would not be an overstatement to say that the ultimate success of a company depends on the quality of its business processes. The arrival of mobile devices and their associated mobile applications changes everything. As CIO, it’s going to be your job to find ways to make sure that these new mobile applications find their way into the company’s existing processes.

In order to incorporate mobile apps into the company’s business processes, the IT department is going to have to first do some homework. How the existing business processes work is going to have to be understood and this can only be done by working closely with other departments. Updating business processes can impact the entire company and so as CIO you’ll need to make sure that the entire company is involved. As new apps become available, make sure that the affected business processes get updated. Finally, social media offers unique insights into what your customers are looking for so make sure that it gets collected and worked into the business processes.

How to Optimize Business Processes

Businesses cannot thrive and grow without efficient business processes in place. From recruiting and hiring employees to sales, marketing, accounting, and managing computer networks, virtually every business function requires a series of processes. The process of business ensure that all related tasks are documented and well organized. In theory, those responsible for carrying out a given process will know exactly what to do and when. However, business methods are not necessarily efficient. Business method optimization seeks to make business method as efficient as possible.

Why Optimize Business Processes?

Some business methods start out efficient but become less efficient over time. For example, as rules and regulations change, you may add tasks to a process in order to comply with the new regulation (Source: “Optimizing business processes”, InfoWorld). However, some existing tasks may no longer be required due to the change. Did you remove those tasks from the process? Likewise, changing one process may affect another process, resulting in unnecessary duplication or tasks that no longer need to be done. If secondary processes are not updated, inefficiency is the result.

Inefficient business processes can result in:

. Unnecessary delays
. Mistakes
. Employee frustration
. Customer dissatisfaction
. Accidents
. Wasted time
. Unnecessary use of resources
. Duplication
. Unnecessary costs

How to Optimize Business Processes

Businesses cannot afford to waste time, money, and resources. They cannot afford the risks of errors and accidents, employee frustration, and unsatisfied customers. In order to address these problems, improve productivity, and streamline operations, business method must be evaluated and optimized on a regular basis (Source: “What Are the Best Tips for Business Process Optimization?”, wiseGEEK). One approach to business method optimization consists of just three steps: identify, analyze, and automate.

1. Identify – Identify the process that needs to be optimized. Break down the process into its most basic components. What are the individual tasks that need to be done to complete the activity? What is the activity’s desired outcome? When does the activity begin and end? Who is involved in this activity? Which deliverables, reports, or information is generated or required as part of this process? Are any secondary processes likely to be affected by your changes?

2. Analyze – After identifying the components of a process, the next step is to rethink the process. Look at all of its parts in search of inefficiencies. Ask yourself “what if?” and “why?” and think of ways to reduce waste. For example, “What if we generated PDF copies instead of paper ones?” or “Why are we generating three paper copies for each order?”

3. Automate – As you fine tune the process of business, explore solutions designed to automate it. For example, business management solutions exist for any number of business method such as invoicing and accounts payable (Source: “Process Tracking System for Accounts Payable (PTS-AP) for SAP Finance”, Dolphin). Automation can ensure that the workflow is carried out consistently as well as do so more efficiently. Whether automating accounts receivable, invoicing, or any other process, business process automation can deliver substantial cost savings, risk management benefits, and cash-flow improvements.

Business Process Management Vs Value Creation Automation

Automation has become the next big thing in the information technology sector. Businesses all over are implementing automation models to manage workflow processes and increase efficiency. Among some of the leading automation structures, Business Process Management (BPM) has emerged as a popular choice by vendors. The discipline comprises of a unique combination of automation modelling, execution and control which are geared towards enabling a company to run more effectively.

But the road to success for BPM models has been far from easy. In fact, the rise of Business Process Management is nearing an end. According to a research conducted by Aberdeen Group in 2007, Business Process Management solutions have been a tough challenge for most companies. Some of the reasons behind the unpopularity of BPM solutions have been listed below:

Gap between BPM and People

To make any technology succeed in an organization, the right mind-set and organizational culture is required. One of the top challenges faced by executives implementing Business Process Management models was the inability to bring people on board with the new idea. The report stated that companies lacked a clear vision and roadmap for attaining business goals. Organizational members felt disconnected with the system and were unwilling to take control.

BPM limits innovation

Business Process Management programs can be harmful in some business structures where innovation is necessary. The idea of business evolution has gained momentum in recent decades due to increasing market competition. Businesses must be able to innovate and evolve with rapidly changing market trends in order to succeed. Business Process Management solutions tend to limit the amount of change a business can make in its processes. A research conducted by Brenner and Tushman revealed that a business with a BPM structure is more likely to fail if it does not innovate as compared to a business functioning without a BPM model.

Gap between process execution and process design

The Business Process Management lifecycle is diversely fragmented and lacks standards. Typically, a process will be broken down into different steps which require the usage of multiple BPM tools. To explain this further in simple words, it would be correct to state that the tools required for designing the process cannot be used to execute the process which can create a costly gap.

Lack of technical support

Many organizations have complained of the lack of technical support available for BPM models. Many vendors are unable to provide tools needed to address issues of the system. Since Business Process Management has become a broad area of recurring development, the lack of tool support has generated issues regarding inflexibility and process visualization.

Value Creation Automation: The New Approach

While the market for BPM solutions is in decline, Value Creation Automation is gaining momentum with its unique approach. Value Creation Automation is targeting a diverse set of industries, promising business leaders the key to unleashing maximum potential with technology.

Value Creation Automation is not a mixture of automated tools or components, rather it is single-structured technological framework which optimize business processes in a holistic manner. Superior interconnectivity and enhanced value delivery are key functioning aspects of this automation solution which enable businesses to scale robustly.

But all these fancy words have been used to promote BPMs, ERPs and other automation programs. So what truly makes Value Creation Automation different?

Integration management

The solution integrates all aspects of business functioning into a single holistic framework. Every activity and process is interconnected with each other to ensure maximum control.

Cost and Time Management

All activities and processes are measured against strict time and cost parameters by Value Creation Automation. Once a process is initiated, managers do not have to worry about measuring the time or the budget allocated. All process parameters and targets are displayed in real-time on screens for viewing purposes.

Value chain

“Value” is founding concept of Value Creation Automation. The primary purpose of VCA is to implement a value generating process flow which eliminates any non-value adding activity.

Lean and Six Sigma approach

The implementation of lean and six sigma has revolutionized industries to a whole new level. However, automated implementation of these principles is yet to materialize. Value Creation Automation instills Lean and Six Sigma at process and managerial level for maximum waste removal and increased productivity.

These are just a few of the reasons why Value Creation Automation is making its mark on the industry and moving ahead of competitors. If you don’t automate your business processes now, you will be left behind.

For more detail about Value Creation Automation, visit the official web page of Cordis Technology.

SIPOC Diagrams and Other Business Process Mapping Tools

We use the phrase business process to define a particular set of tasks or actions undertaken by an organization, that lead to the production of goods or services for the customer base. It’s a flexible term – one that can be used to describe the most menial or idiosyncratic of assignments, or as a way of describing a company in its entirety.

Critical study of each facet of a process is imperative for maintaining high standards within a company, and to allow management to spot any flaws or inefficiencies in its day-to-day business. The most common way of condensing a process down into an organized format is to use a visual solution – one that allows each point to be represented clearly and succinctly, giving those that are unfamiliar with the process an unambiguous interpretation of events.

To support this visual style of quality management, a number of transferable methodologies have been developed – generic diagramming solutions that act as a framework around which unique and disparate processes can be formed. The collective term for this practice is business process mapping, and here follows a brief description of some of the more popular approaches to it.

SIPOC Diagrams – SIPOC stands for suppliers, inputs, process, outputs, and customers, and it is a style of diagram that has a clear focus on the quality of what is going in, and what is being produced from a business process. It has a simple visual form, a segmented table that produces comprehensive lists for each category. With a SIPOC diagram, the start and end of a process is clearly defined, and the relationship between a company and its external suppliers is easily identified. SIPOC diagrams form a key part of the Six Sigma methodology, which are a set of techniques and tools to help improve quality output and minimize variability within repeated tasks.

Business process flowcharts – A flowchart is the go-to tool for representing any basic process that involves a series of steps or decisions, particularly processes that are repeatable. Also known as a process flow diagram, these charts act as a solution model to a given problem, telling the user exactly which steps can be taken at what time, and the impact of choices made within the workflow. As with SIPOC diagrams, a flowchart can show the input and output of materials and services in terms of the customer, as well as being used to define processes from other areas of a company, such as management or human resources.

Swimlane diagrams – If a business process crosses over multiple departments, in can be easier to define using a flowchart that has been divided into distinct sections, or ‘swimlanes’. These lanes distinguish which persons, groups, or location influence a particular step of the business process. They are useful for explicitly stating each stakeholders responsibility, and the actions each employee is expected to complete, before the process can continue to the next department. Other terms for these type of diagrams include ‘deployment flowchart’ and ‘cross-functional flowchart’.

IDEF3 – The IDEF business process modelling language is used in slightly more specific scenarios than the previous examples. IDEF3 in particular is a scenario-driven description capture method, that has the ability to define the state of the same system or process under a variety of conditions. While flowcharts can allow a certain amount of artistic license in their design, IDEF3 uses standardized process schematic symbols – a more complex and comprehensive set of icons than found in flowcharts, and more precise in their definition.

Value stream mapping – A value stream map takes a wide look at the relationships between manufacturing, production control and shipping processes. They follow the value chain through an organization, from supply until it reaches the market. Like IDEF3, standardized notation is used to facilitate understanding between workers and workforces.

To achieve the professional standards required for these diagramming styles, it’s best to use specialized drawing software, and a supply of the correct graphical notations.