Have you ever stopped to ask why you do a specific task each day at work, and whether it can be done more efficiently? Do projects or plans get bogged down to the point where they are late and consistently over budget? If so, business process modeling can help.
BPM is a tool that analysts and project managers use to identify weaknesses and redundancies in companies. This strategy is used in small companies of a dozen people up to major corporations. You don’t have to be an expert BA to try business process modeling, but you do need a drive to improve your department’s efficiency and help your company.
What Is Business Process Modeling?
Business process modeling is meant to map out how your team, department or business gets work done. It visually describes a process from start to finish, so anyone can see how your company operates.
The team at HEFLO defines business process modeling as “a set of activities that must be followed to allow the creation of one or more models for representation, communication, analysis, design, synthesis, decision making and control of business.”
Essentially, business process modeling is any action or series of actions taken by business analysts, company managers and the C-Suite to improve business operations, making them more efficient.
Business process modeling has become an increasingly popular tactic in the corporate world. For the past several years, Paul Harmon at BPTrends has published an analysis on business process management to reflect current trends in business process modeling and tracking the use of BPM by global companies. Insights for 2018 include:
The main goal of BPM for most companies is to save money by reducing costs and improving productivity.
65 percent of companies say their BPM strategies helped increase efficiency and customer satisfaction.
52 percent of companies say they only occasionally model their business processes, if at all.
The biggest challenge people have selling process changes to management is helping them understand the different changes and how they will affect the company.
This data is clear: people want to increase their efficiency and grow their revenue, but lack a clear way to do it. This is why effective BPM is important, so employees at all levels of the organizational chart can understand it.
You can see additional trends related to BPM in graphic form by Emily Schneider at Signavio. One notable piece of information is that BPM is not used exclusively in software development or technology. While the IT department might lead the BPM charge, process improvement is used across the organization. For example, the top three uses for BPM are accounting or budgeting, scheduling, and invoicing or quoting. Every company needs a balanced budget and well-kept calendar.
What Are the Benefits Of Business Process Modeling?
There are many reasons to try business process modeling in your company, and the original needs that convince you to test BPM might lead to other opportunities to benefit from these visualizations.
The team at BPM and workflow automation software company KiSSFLOW highlights a key benefits to introducing business process modeling to your organization. For example:
Provide a clear understanding of how the process works.
Create consistency and a sense of control over the process.
Identify and eliminate speed bumps, inefficiencies, and redundancies.
Set clear start and end points for the process.
Each organization and department might find value in BPM for different reasons. Some companies might want to optimize processes to improve timelines, while others might want greater transparency in order to onboard new team members.
BPM Can Increase Employee Engagement
There are also significant benefits to employees in companies that invest in BPM, meaning this concept doesn’t just affect your corporate efficiency and bottom line.
“Consistent and easily obtained business process information can help employees innovate, sharing ideas about additional improvements and innovations that could be made to standard operating procedures,” Zak Cole at unified software platform, Erwin, Inc. writes. “It could also save them the time they might otherwise spend on ‘reinventing the wheel’ for SOPs that already exist but that they don’t know about.”
When team members feel like they can accomplish their work efficiently and that management works to reduce unnecessary barriers, they will start to stretch themselves and work to expand the business with new ideas and better products.
How To Introduce BPM Techniques To Your Company
The first step to test BPM is to review the materials you need to create a successful map. Without all of the necessary information, your process will have gaps that prevent you from seeing the potential for change.
Louise Campos at Bit Rebels listed some essential components of a business process model if you want it to drive change in your organization. These include:
The desired outcome driving you to run through the process.
The customer needs (the start point) and the customer fulfillment (the end point).
The actions that need to be performed to reach the desired outcome in their exact order.
The people who are in charge of executing these activities.
The documents, forms, and materials used throughout the process.
Essentially, you can’t get to where you want to go unless you know where you are. You can’t improve your processes without understanding them first. Keeping this in mind when you map out your business can help you create detailed layouts with all of the information you need.
Unfortunately, this leaves a substantial gray area for how much detail you should include.
“The problem you might run into while creating a process map is that you could end up making it either too detailed or too basic,” Benjamin Brandall at software company Process Street writes. “Basically, if it needs explaining and breaking up, then do it. If it doesn’t, then compress it into one box and reduce the size of the map.”
Brandall jokes that you don’t want the process map for changing your password or logging into your email to look like a 20-step behemoth.
Start Small and Then Expand
If you’re new to the world of business process modeling, you don’t have to invest in expensive tools to understand how mapping out your business process can help save time and money.
In a guide developed by Creately, you can help different processes by creating flowcharts in your organization. This is a low-tech but effective way to start reviewing a few of your processes. Once you start expanding to other departments, or modeling processes with 50-plus steps, then you might want to upgrade to a higher-tech options.
Once you get more confident, you can test other models, tools, and system for BPM. Most industry experts can think of up to 12 business process modeling styles to increase clarity within organizations. The team at Tallyfy highlighted nine of these techniques and provided clear examples for readers looking to explore the how-to aspects of BPM.
Department leaders can review how they want to visualize data and determine which tactics might work best for them.
Test Changes to See How Employees Respond
As you look at actionable takeaways from your business process modeling, it’s important to make choices that are right for your company.
Brian Hughes, founder of Integrity Marketing and Consulting, advises leaders to not rely on automation for everything. While a common tool to help companies save money, automation isn’t the solution to everything. In fact, can actually hold employees back if the process becomes more complex.
You may decide to hold off on specific changes based on the skill set and reaction to change of your employees.
If you do choose to invest in a BPM software tool, or are ready to make the jump to digital modeling, make sure the program you use has the right features to meet your brand needs. The SweetProcess team lists four key elements found in most BPM software options:
Process Engine. Allows you to analyze your processes and test changes to see how the improvements would affect the business.
Business Analytics. Provides data on the changes — including the time and money saved.
Content Management. Manages and saves your reports and processes to review later.
Collaboration Tools. Allows multiple people within the company to submit processes and take steps to create change.
Once you go digital, you might discover a host of options that help you make changes to your current business processes.
For example, online business process models make it easy to test new procedures without completely changing the existing infrastructure, Debbie Moynihan at TechTarget Search Microservices [registration required] says. One of the main features of BPM software is that users can simulate changes in their current procedures to see how they would affect the workflow.
Furthermore, when one change in the company is successful, business leaders can apply that change across other departments in the business for increased optimization.
Learn More About BPM Through Company Case Studies
If you’re still on the fence about trying business process modeling, then see how other companies use it to grow their businesses.
Connie Moore at Digital Clarity Group shares multiple case studies of the best BPM projects of 2018 so far. She explains how these highlight overall trends in business process management.
For example, one of the main focuses this year has been reducing redundant processes. By streamlining the operations of multiple teams (and, in the case of the New York State BackOffice Operations, 57 agencies) every employee is on the same page for how to complete processes and management can see that the processes are operating efficiently.
Laura Brandenburg at Bridging the Gap also showcased a few case studies of successful BPM and how it helped companies increase their efficiency.
In one, a customer service professional used BPM to analyze the company’s trade show presence to understand why materials showed up late or never showed up at all. He worked with executives to learn what goes on between the idea and the finished product (the trade show) to better understand what was going wrong and how to fix it.
Sometimes BPM is a simple tool to trace your steps and better understand the company.
Business process modeling alone won’t make your company more efficient, but it will create a roadmap for you to see where your team members are getting stuck. If you can make changes based on the models, then you should see your overall corporate efficiency increase.