What is Business Process Modelling?

What is Business Process Modelling?

and why it matters the way you do it

On previous articles we’ve already established what are processes and how, even though you believe your company may be too small for it, you actually run more than one process – even if you feel like you haven’t done anything to create it.

Let’s take a step back to remind ourselves what is a process, shall we? According to the simplified definition by the Merriam Webster Dictionary, a process is:

A series of actions that produce something or that lead to a particular result; A series of changes that happen naturally.

What does that mean? Well, it means that any series of actions repeated on a regular basis (such as the steps you take when making a sale) constitute a process. What can you do to ensure you’re running your processes as smoothly as possible? To begin with, you can start with process modelling.

Don’t know what that is? Don’t worry about it, that’s what this article is all about.

What is Business Process Modelling?

Business process modeling (also known as simply process modeling), is the analytical representation or put simply an illustration of an organization’s business processes. Modelling processes is a critical component for effective business process management.

 Process modelling constitutes a technique for mapping out an organization’s current processes which can be especially helpful for understanding the “hows” of your company as well as identifying improvement possibilities.

It’s common to correlate process modelling directly to BPMN and flowcharts but with current technological advances (such as process management tools), it has became a lot easier to model, manage and improve processes with the aid of these tools.

Even though there’s a wide variety of software and tools that allow you to make process modelling a lot easier, it is a rather simple process and can be done with ‘offline’ visual elements such as pen an paper or a board with sticky notes – the most important thing is choosing and adopting the tools that are most adequate to your company’s and your team’s reality.

Some people find it harder to model processes using computers and other technological elements – they affirm that these tools overcomplicate simple activities and can be exclusive of those that aren’t used to the technology.

That can be true if we’re talking about technical software but there are alternatives, such as Pipefy, that allow you to easily model and manage your company’s processes on the go, making it possible to create a seamless workflow by integrating many different people at once.

Ok, so we’ve established you can choose the technique that best suits your needs when modelling your processes but how can you model a process? What’s the essential information you must include?

Well, for starters, process modelling is a ‘physical’ representation of your process’ activities and steps – it involves listing and detailing all events, action and connection points that exist between point A (the action that sets your process in motion) and point B (the overall result of your process).

It is essential to follow the right sequence of actions to make it possible for people to be able to contextualize and identify how does this process actually works.

Since some of your processes will eventually involve the participation of more than one team/department in your organization, it’s safe to say that business process modelling will quite often be cross-functional and rely on tasks and documentation from more than one department of your company. They can even involve activities from external players, such as suppliers, which ups the complexity of it a notch.

Why is Business Process Modelling important?

It’s important that you’re aware of the fact that modelling your processes isn’t your goal, it’s actually a means to an end where the ultimate goal is process improvement. We’ll go over the details of this goal later but, what you must always keep in mind that the focus of any process improvement is adding value and improving your overall customer experience.

As we’ve mentioned before, choosing the right tool – and methodology – when modelling your processes is essential for ensuring its success. There’s absolutely no point in creating an excessively complex model that no one will be able to use.

Always keep in mind that the ultimate goal when modelling and improving your processes is to make them better and more effective, adding value to both your internal and external customers as well as making your company’s teams more efficient.



The way of fundamental changes

Kaikaku (Japanese for "radical change") is a business concept concerned with making fundamental and radical changes to a production system, unlike Kaizen which is focused on incremental minor changes. Both Kaizen and Kaikaku can be applied to activities other than production.


Kaikaku and Kaizen are concepts in Japanese production philosophy that relate to each other. Both have origins in the Toyota Production System.

Kaikaku means a radical change, during a limited time, of a production system. Kaizen, on the other hand, is continuous minor changes of a certain area of a production system, often with the primary goal of solving team related problems. Kaizen is based on all employees involvement and individual activities generally reach an improvement of less than 20%. A cross between Kaikaku and Kaizen is Kaizen Blitz (or Kaizen Events), which implies a radical improvement in a limited area, such as a production cell, during an intense week.

Kaikaku means that an entire business is changed radically, normally always in the form of a project. Kaikaku is most often initiated by management, since the change as such and the result will significantly impact business. Kaikaku is about introducing new knowledge, new strategies, new approaches, new production techniques or new equipment. Kaikaku can be initiated by external factors, e.g. new technology or market conditions. Kaikaku can also be initiated when management see that ongoing Kaizen work is beginning to stagnate and no longer provides adequate results in relation to the effort. Kaikaku projects often result in improvements in the range of 30-50% and a new base level for continued Kaizen. Kaikaku may also be called System Kaizen.

Kaikaku projects can be of four different types:[1]

  • Locally innovative - Capital intensive
E.g. an installation of robot automation in a factory is not new to the industry in general, but may be new to the company. The decision is strategically grounded and could mean higher costs
  • Locally innovative - Operation close
E.g. the introduction of conventional methods Six Sigma or TPM may be new to the company. The direct cost is relatively small
  • Radically innovative - Capital intensive
E.g. the introduction of a new and innovative production technology
  • Radically innovative - Operation close
E.g. the introduction of new and innovative production solutions that are new to the industry



The way of continuous improvement

In process improvement, a SIPOC (sometimes COPIS) is a tool that summarizes the inputs and outputs of one or more processes in table form. The acronym SIPOC stands for suppliers, inputs, process, outputs, and customers which form the columns of the table.[1][2] It was in use at least as early as the total quality management programs of the late 1980s[a] and continues to be used today in Six Sigma, lean manufacturing, and business process management.

To emphasize putting the needs of the customer foremost, the tool is sometimes called COPIS and the process information is filled in starting with the customer and working upstream to the supplier.

The SIPOC is often presented at the outset of process improvement efforts such as Kaizen events or during the "define" phase of the DMAIC process.[3] It has three typical uses depending on the audience:

  • To give people who are unfamiliar with a process a high-level overview
  • To reacquaint people whose familiarity with a process has faded or become out-of-date due to process changes
  • To help people in defining a new process

Several aspects of the SIPOC that may not be readily apparent are:

  • Suppliers and customers may be internal or external to the organization that performs the process.
  • Inputs and outputs may be materials, services, or information.
  • The focus is on capturing the set of inputs and outputs rather than the individual steps in the process.[b]
Example SIPOC: Automobile repair
Supplier Input Process Output Customer
  • Vehicle owner
  • Customer service representative
  • Facility manager
  • Parts window
  • Repair inquiry
  • Vehicle for repair
  • Permission to proceed with individual recommendations
  • Open bay
  • Parts for approved repairs
  • Observations
  • Schedule visit
  • Diagnose problem
  • Prepare work order
  • Source parts
  • Perform repairs
  • Notify that service is complete
  • Appointment date and time
  • Repair recommendations and cost estimates
  • Work order
  • Parts for approved repairs
  • Telephone/e-mail/text message notification
  • Repaired vehicle
  • Vehicle owner
  • Mechanic
  • Customer service representative