FAQ: Where do I start with business process modeling?

21st September 2016

The Casewise FAQ blog series provides insights from our top consultants into key issues impacting the business process and enterprise architecture industries

There are many ways to start a business modeling project, but the first and foremost is an understanding of your processes. A lot of business managers are not even aware of what their processes are.

If you want to know what counts as a process, it is anything that answers the question, ‘How do I do this?’

How do we gather knowledge to inform the business process model?

A business process is how you do anything – be it a product launch, a marketing campaign or how you keep records.

The process is the steps you go through to complete a task. You may have processes that are formal – mandated instructions that you follow each time. Your business may also have informal processes, where one team has its own way of doing something.

To start mapping out all the processes in an organisation, we begin by detailing all the things that are done within the business and how they are done – the steps people go through to get them done.

When we have gathered this information, we start mapping those business processes. That could be as simple as sitting down with someone who can explain how things are done.

First you need to pool all of the knowledge together and then you need to collaborate and share that knowledge with everyone else, so they can identify gaps.

Perhaps the marketing department has processes that overlap with the sales department. Both might overlap with the finance department.

Usually there are multiple people in each department who know slivers of what they do and how they do it.

How do we prioritise which business processes to work on?

Consider this question first – ‘What’s costing me more money at the moment?’

The answer to that question can help you identify where change will bring the biggest benefit to the business bottom line.

In some companies, the way data is managed is inefficient and expensive. Some companies can save money by upgrading or changing their hardware, or moving from on premise applications to the cloud.

Often, in corporations the plethora of business processes and bureaucracy can be rationalized with a new business process model.

How do we put a new business process model into action?

The most efficient way to enact change within your business process management is to do it in one area of the business.

If you try to change the whole business in one go, you will take so long gathering information and creating committees that the result will be years of costly inertia.

The right approach is choosing one department where the processes are clear, the team is stable and the team members are ready and willing to adopt new process management.

Starting a project that affects the whole organisation will take years, but if you start with one department or even one section of one department, you can deliver results within a couple of months. That is what gets stakeholders on board.