Process mapping and process modeling, two sides of the same coin?

The main objective of process mapping is to achieve transparency and to align business processes (BPs) with company rules or legal regulations for the benefit of compliance. BPs are documented as diagrams using for instance flow charts or BPMN™ notations. Process modeling on the other hand is the analysis and optimization of the business architecture. Doing so involves a functional decomposition of BPs and the use of different views and viewpoints like organizations, data, goals or the organizations’ performances.

Wikipedia provides us more comprehensive definitions for process mapping and process modeling.

The leading process mapping tool for organizations and consultancies is de facto Microsoft Visio® used by peoples from business lines or consultants. The process modeling task is mostly performed by business analysts and engineers using sophisticated and therefore more complex business process analysis (BPA) tools like ARIS®.

A prerequisite for the analysis of BPs is modeling with real objects stored in a repository. As a result of the modeling procedure, a more or less abstract model of the BP reality is created with diagrams as visual representations and deliverables.

The gap between process mapping and process modeling can be bridged by adding modeling capabilities to Visio® without changing the spirit of an easy-to-use mapping tool. And this allows taking over the created deliverables for instance captured in a project by Six-Sigma® methodology into a repository for further BP analysis. Our team implemented three concepts and added them to Visio® to strike a balance between tool simplicity and professionalism with respect to BP mapping and modeling:

  1. Compliance to modeling rules and standards by using a rule engine.
  2. Reuse of objects and dealing with object occurrences by an object glossary for common model data like organizations, applications, documents.
  3. Bi-directional integration with a BPA repository

This approach permits a decentralized enrollment of BPs and capturing knowledge by process experts and further analysis of BPs by business analysts using a central repository. As a result there is a beneficial trade-off between the costs for licenses and training versus quality and the assistance in process documentation.

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