Business process modeling

Business process modeling is one of the methods of improving the quality and efficiency of the organization. This method is based on the process description through various elements (actions, data, events, materials, etc.) inherent in the process. Business process modeling describes the logical relationship of all process elements from its beginning to completion within an organization as a rule. Modeling may include external processes or systems in relation to the organization in more complex situations.

Business process modeling allows you to understand the work and analyze the organization. It can be achieved because the models can be compiled according to various aspects and levels of management. Business process modeling is performed in more detail and more multifaceted in large organizations than in small organizations, which is associated with a large number of cross-functional relationships.

Usually, various computer tools and software are used to model business processes. It makes easier to manage models, track changes in them and reduces analysis time.

Business process modeling objectives

The ultimate goal of business process modeling is to achieve performance improvement. To do this, the analysis focuses on increasing the value of the results of the process and reducing the cost and time of performing actions.

Business process modeling has several goals:

  • firstly, this is the purpose of describing processes. It is possible to trace what happens in the processes from the beginning to the end due to modeling. Modeling allows you to get an "external" look at the processes and identify improvements that will increase their efficiency;
  • secondly, the standardization of processes. Business process modeling sets the rules for the execution of processes, i.e. how they should be executed. If you follow the rules, guidelines, or requirements set out in the models, you can achieve the desired process performance;
  • thirdly, the establishment of relationships in processes. Business process modeling establishes a relationship between processes and requirements that these processes must execute.

Stages of business process modeling

Business processes modeling involves the execution of several successive stages. It covers both the "project" part of the work and the work on the implementation of process models since the ultimate goal of modeling is to improve processes.

The composition of the stages that include business process modeling is as follows:

  • identification of processes and create of the initial model "as is". It is necessary to understand how it works at the moment in order to improve the process. The scope of the process is determined, its key elements are identified, and data on the operation of the process is collected at this stage. The initial model of the process ("as is") is created as a result. This model does not always adequately reflect the work of the process, so the model of this stage can be called the "first draft" or the initial model "as is".
  • revision, analysis and refinement of the original model. Contradictions and duplication of actions in the process are identified, process limitations, process relationships are determined, and the need to change the process is established at this stage. The final version of the "as is" model is formed as a result.
  • create of the "as should be" model. It is necessary to determine the desired state of the process after analyzing the existing situation. This desired state is represented in the "as should be" model. This model shows how the process should look in the future, including all the necessary improvements. Such models are developed during this stage of business process modeling.
  • testing and application of the "as should be" model. This stage of modeling is associated with the implementation of the developed model in the practice of the organization. The business process model is being tested, and the necessary changes are being made to it.
  • improvement of the "as should be" model. Business process modeling is not limited to creating a "as should be" model. Each process continues to change and improve in the work, so the process models should be regularly reviewed and improved. This stage of modeling is associated with the continuous improvement of processes and the improvement of the business process model.

Types of business process modeling

Business process modeling can have different directions. It depends on what problems are supposed to be solved with business process modeling. Taking into account absolutely all impacts on the process can significantly complicate the model and lead to redundancy in the description of the process. Business process modeling is divided into types to avoid this. The type of modeling is selected depending on the investigated characteristics of the process.

The following types of modeling are used for the purposes of improving the process:

  • Functional modeling. This type of modeling implies the description of processes in the form of interrelated, clearly structured functions. A strict time sequence of functions is not required at the same time, as it exists in real processes.
  • Object modeling. It implies a description of processes as a set of interacting objects - i.e. production units. An object is an item that is transformed during the execution of processes.
  • Simulation modeling. It means modeling the behavior of processes in various external and internal conditions with an analysis of the dynamic characteristics of processes and with an analysis of resource allocation.

The separation of modeling by types is performed to simplify the work and focus on certain characteristics of the process. Different types of modeling can be applied for the same process at the same time. This allows you to work with one type of models independently of the others.

Principles of business process modeling

Business process modeling is based on a number of principles that make it possible to create adequate process models. The compliance of these principles allows us to describe many state parameters of processes in such a way that components within one model are closely interrelated, while individual models remain independent of each other.

The main principles of business process modeling are the following:

  • The decomposition principle. Each process can be represented by a set of hierarchically arranged elements. The process must be detailed into its constituent elements in accordance with this principle.
  • The focus principle. It is necessary to abstract from many process parameters and focus on key aspects in order to develop a model. These aspects can be different for each model.
  • The documentation principle. The elements included in the process must be formalized and fixed in the model. It is necessary to use different designations for different elements of the process. The fixation of elements in the model depends on the type of modeling and the selected methods.
  • The consistency principle. All elements included in the process model must have a single-valued interpretation and not contradict each other.
  • The completeness and sufficiency principle. It is necessary to evaluate its impact on the process before including one or another element in the model. If an element is not essential for the execution of the process, then its inclusion in the model is impractical, because it can only complicate the business process model.

Business process modeling methods

There are quite a large number of methods for modeling business processes to date. These methods relate to different types of modeling and allow you to focus on different aspects. They contain both graphical and textual tools. It is possible to visualize the main components of the process and give precise definitions of the parameters and relationships of elements.

Business process modeling is performed using the following methods:

  • Flow Chart Diagram. This is a graphical method of representing a process in which operations, data, process equipment, etc. are represented by special symbols. The method is used to display the logical sequence of actions of the process. The main advantage of the method is its flexibility. The process can be represented in many ways.
  • Data Flow Diagram. A data flow diagram or DFD is used to display the transfer of information (data) from one operation of a process to another. DFD describes the relationship of operations through information and data. This method is the basis of structural analysis of processes, because it allows you to decompose the process into logical levels. Each process can be split into sub processes with a higher level of detail. The use of DFD allows you to reflect only the flow of information, but not the flow of materials. The data flow diagram shows how information enters and exits the process, what actions change the information, where the information is stored in the process, etc.
  • Role Activity Diagram. It is used to model the process in terms of individual roles, groups of roles and interaction of roles in the process. A role is an abstract element of a process that performs an organizational function. The role diagram shows the degree of "responsibility" for the process and its operations, as well as the interaction of roles.
  • IDEF (Integrated Definition for Function Modeling). It is a whole set of methods for describing various aspects of business processes (IDEF0, IDEF1X, IDEF1, IDEF2, IDEF3, IDEF4, IDEF5). These methods are based on the SADT (Structured Analysis and Design Technique) methodology. The most commonly used methods for modeling business processes are IDEF0 and IDEF3.
  • IDEF0. It allows you to create a model of process functions. The IDEF0 diagram shows the main functions of the process, inputs, outputs, control actions and devices interconnected with the main functions. The process can be decomposed to a lower level.
  • IDEF3. This method allows you to create a "behavioral" model of the process. IDEF3 consists of two types of models. The first type is a description of the work flow. The second type is a description of the transition states of objects.
  • Colored Petri Nets. This method represents a process model in the form of a graph, where the vertices are the actions of the process, and the arcs are the events due to which the process transitions from one state to another. Petri nets are used for dynamic modeling of process behavior.
  • Unified Modeling Language (UML). It is an object-oriented method of modeling processes. It consists of 9 different diagrams, each of which allows you to model individual static or dynamic aspects of the process.

Most of these methods are implemented in the form of software. Software allows you to support business processes or analyze them. Examples of such software are various CASE process modeling tools.