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Business Process August 26, 2005

Posted by Coolguy in Business Analysis.
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A business process:

1. Has a Goal
2. Has specific inputs
3. Has specific outputs
4. Uses resources
5. Has a number of activities that are performed in some order
6. May affect more than one organizational unit. Horizontal organizational impact
7. Creates value of some kind for the customer. The customer may be internal or external

Business Process Modelling August 26, 2005

Posted by Coolguy in Business Analysis.
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  • There is often debate as to the value of an extensive modelling effort, especially in light of modern, more agile software development processes where the impetus is to concentrate on implementation and refinement on a micro-iterative basis
  • There are valid arguments against large scale modelling prior to development, it does consume resource and the payback is not immediate.
  • One of the principal risks is found in the definition and management of what is a considerably broad scope
  • Modelling allows us to abstract the problem context to a level where the key areas to be focussed on can be easily identified. We then elaborate on the aspects of the abstracted model that are most relevant to the initial solution. This allows us to capture and prioritise system requirements in a manageable fashion and to communicate these requirements clearly and succinctly.

Model Types

  • Two model types:
  • Business Process Models
  • Use Case Models

Business Process Model

  • Business Process Management – BPM is a set of technologies and standards for the design, execution, administration, and monitoring of business processes
  • A business process is the flow or progression of activities (the “boxes”)–each of which represents the work of a person, an internal system, or the process of a partner company–toward some business goal
  • Business process modeling provides a way of visualizing the often-complex workflows within an organization. The idea is to create a graphical representation of business processes that describes activities and
    their interdependencies. The resulting diagram reveals inefficiencies and
    areas for improvement
  • Process modeling is a method for diagramming your processes and their related resources, such as people and equipment.
  • These diagrams of end-to-end sequences can be used to record and evaluate how you’re doing business today, and to rethink and envision how it might be done tomorrow.
  • Business process modeling allows companies to build these diagrams in software, letting CIOs, consultants, business analysts and others change the processes around, or automate them, and then simulate their performance.
  • The objective: to design processes that make the most of existing resources, cut the fat from your current functions and speed time to market, but that remain malleable, too.
  • E.g: Take a simple set of steps such as processing an invoice. Person A is supposed to approve the invoice and forward it to Person B, who processes payment and sends notification to Person C. But if a company decides to streamline this process—having A “okay” an automatic payment, notifying C—such a modification could be accomplished by simply tweaking the model, and the application would cut B from the chain. In addition to modeling the new sequence, some software can actually define each step in the new process and present it to the next person in the chain
  • The business process model is a means to capture business processes in their wider business context. This modelling technique allows us to identify the inputs and outputs of individual business processes and also how these processes are inter related.
  • The business process model is useful as it allows us to model business activities at level of abstraction where inputs, outputs and relationships can be easily identified and articulated
  • This kind of model is not so much concerned with the low level activities that comprise a specific process, these are handled elsewhere by activity diagrams and scenario descriptions
  • A comprehensive BPM tells us exactly what processes need to be
    supported by a system and what information and resources are required.
  • It also allows us to experiment with process re-alignment and/or
    re-engineering is a succinct, non- critical manner
  • As the wider model develops we can describe how these processes will be implemented in a proposed system by indicating realisation relationships between use cases, requirements and the business processes.
  • This kind of traceability is extremely useful and insures that the
    requirements capture effort is focussed on supporting business
  • Ultimately, however, the greatest payback from BPM is the ability
    to continually make incremental changes in processes, and to have these
    changes integrated efficiently in the software that end-users
  • BPM today is an enterprise integration technology complementing Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), Enterprise Application Integration (EAI), and Enterprise Service Bus (ESB).
  • There are a dizzying number of acronyms, including BPA
    (business process analysis), BPMN (business process modeling notation), BPML (business process modeling language), BPQL (Business Process Query Language) and BPEL (business process execution language), to name a few.

How does it work?

  • First you map out your “as is” process, the process as it
    currently exists. This means gathering data from people actually
    performing the process you’re evaluating to learn exactly how things are
    done—your company’s order-fulfillment sequence, for example. Once the
    “as is” process is documented, you can figure out where improvements
    might be made
  • For any “horizontal” processes that cut across business
    unit boundaries, this requires collaboration from a number of departments,
    including the line-of-business people whose process you’re modeling; the
    finance department, which understands the costs of the process and related assets; human resources, which can offer insight into which employees should be assigned to specific tasks; and adjacent departments that will at some point be affected by the new workflow