Do you still map business processes? Or are you already modeling?

Many surveys regarding tools used for process management and modeling show that Microsoft® Visio® is most frequently employed for this task; along with (amazingly) Excel® and PowerPoint® for business process documentation. The quality of such deliverables and their value for the company/organization differs by the functionality and modeling capabilities of the respective tool (and do not forget about the people’s experience and skills). The interesting question is: How to close the gap between the easy-to-use Office tools (so much loved by business folks and consultants) and those complex and costly tools preferred by architects?

In the blog post “Process mapping and process modeling, two sides of the same coin?” we have discussed the difference between mapping and modeling. The brief answer is: Mapping means more or less graphical drawing while modeling regards graphics as real objects with individual identities, attributes and contexts. So it makes a tremendous difference to know that a specific business role and application system is assigned to an activity. Objects managed in a database repository are the key to deliver real business value. Simply consider business reports which can be run against modeled objects, but not against mapped graphics.

Business process initiatives and implementations start with business process modeling and carry on with business process analysis and continuous improvements. The road leads from business architecture – supporting the common understanding of the business – to practicing enterprise architecture management (EAM) as a strategic approach. EAM enables macro and micro views from the strategic alignment to the very details of end-to-end processes including the management of organizational and IT changes.

BPM-X® technology can well be regarded as EAM enabler: it leverages easy-to-use tools like Microsoft® SharePoint® and Visio® by enhancing their capabilities for the sake of delivering quick value to the organization.

The following podcast demonstrates how BPM-X enables Visio® and SharePoint® to do real process modeling with an inventory of re-usable objects: an object inventory. Such inventory has many other names, for instance library, glossary, common objects, modeling master data, just to name a few.

The ability to work with real objects in your models is highly important. They describe the business, application and IT architecture and corresponding functional capabilities of your organization. The object inventory is usually managed by a central architectural team. Business analysts and consultants are the folks doing the actual process modeling work; they get back to the object inventory by re-using org units, business roles, application systems, inputs, risks and so forth in their process models. The next level of “re-use enlightenment” could be found in frameworks like APQC or SCOR®: they provide the functional or performance capabilities as building blocks of business processes. But that’s a different story.

Let’s us face the benefit of real business process modeling (as opposed to plain mapping) and object re-use by means of an object inventory: You will be able to ask real-world questions to your models: Which business activities are conducted by a specific role? What are the most common risks? How often is a specific sub-process used?

When you have moved from mapping to modeling, you have done a significant step towards business process analysis and EAM.

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