There are many examples of very good business process models out there.
They can be found in academic sources, online, tutorials, and product demonstrations. However, in the real world …
Ed Metera, Senior Project Manager, Canadian Western Bank
Ed will be speaking at the IRM UK Business Process Management & Enterprise Architecture Conference Europe 21-24 October 2019, London on the subject ‘The Practical Guide To High-Quality Business Process Models‘
Too many business process models fall short of expectations.
Despite significant investments of time and well-intended stakeholder effort, many business process models still end up being not very useful for their intended purposes. Too many do not reflect the business accurately enough to be useful, do not have sufficient key stakeholders’ buy-in for real decision making, or do not include the kinds of process information that the model’s readers are looking for. Some even confuse their readers with complex or incongruous graphical notation.
None of these types of complaints should be blamed on environmental or project constraints like modeling tools at hand, the knowledge or capabilities of business subject matter experts who may participate in the model’s development, or even time and effort constraints. Projects are by definition unique temporary endeavours. While these ever-present variables influence or constrain any process modeling activity, a competent business analyst or process analyst is capable of working with or around them.
The root cause of a business process model that does not fit the bill is a business analyst’s or process analyst’s own competence for producing the model while navigating through the typical project dynamics.
If producing a high quality business process model is not key to your role or your project, then you don’t really need a high level of process modeling competence. Leave that up to the project’s business analyst. But if it is, then you should be expected to bring a high level of process modeling competence to the table so that you can facilitate and achieve a model that is fit for its project’s intended purpose.
The Top 6 Business Process Modeling Mistakes
1. Undefined Process Modeling Approach
2. Unclear Model Purpose
3. Not Asking the Right Questions
4. Weak Process and Activity Definition
5. Insufficient Key Stakeholder Participation
6. Insufficient Model Validation
Business analysts and process analysts who prepare business process models using ad-hoc methods, or who rely on past experience, are prone to making these mistakes. They may then suffer through related process model quality complaints.
How to Avoid the Top 6 (and most other) Process Modeling Mistakes
Here are the 6 skills or behaviours that demonstrate a high level of business process modeling competence. They will enable you to steer clear of the most common business process modeling mistakes:
1. Have a defined process modeling approach
Like other types of analysis, process modeling is a journey of discovery. As a competent business analyst, it’s up to you to identify the modeling activities you will perform to lead or facilitate your process model’s journey of discovery. If you don’t already have one, then you should adopt and practice a defined process modeling approach.
2. Establish a clear mission for each model
Process models are typically products of business process improvement/management or information technology projects and all projects are by definition unique, temporary endeavours. As a competent business analyst, you deliberately identify the purpose of the process model within your project’s lifecycle and other key mission parameters. You use clear mission parameters to guide your process model elicitation and validation activities.
3. Know what questions you will ask
It’s not nearly as important to ask a lot of questions as it is to ask the right questions. You should know what few, but key, questions you will doggedly elicit the answers to as you are eliciting your process model’s content. You should understand why you need to ask and answer those questions. You should be able to prepare and communicate your elicitation agenda in advance of engaging key stakeholders in events like workshops or interviews.
4. Know how to unambiguously identify, normalise and define all processes and activities
You are able to consistently perceive business processes at any scale and degree of abstraction. You should also know how to normalise any candidate process and once normalised write an unambiguous definition. Further, you understand and have a process definition framework that reflects how today’s network enabled business processes work. You are able to perceive processes as assemblies of activities that are initiated by business events and deliver outcomes. This understanding leads you to define processes and activities that lend themselves as reusable services and you are able to explain why. In this way, you walk the service oriented architecture talk.
5. Know who, when and how you will engage key stakeholders
You identify your process model’s key stakeholders. You are clear and deliberate about when and how you engage them in process model elicitation and validation activities. You know how to deliberately engage key stakeholders in the elicitation of the model’s content. You engage key stakeholders in model reviews and resolve their feedback before completing your process models. As a result, you are virtually guaranteed to have your models accepted by the business.
6. Know how you will validate your model’s quality
You know how to identify the most important quality factors for your model. You know how you will measure them. You know what questions to ask, and who to ask, to ensure the important quality factors are sufficiently present in your completed model.
Establish or Improve Your Process Modeling Competence
The Universal Process Modeling Procedure is a step-by-step guide for producing a business process model that will meet its project’s intended purpose. It guides a business analyst or process analyst to establish a clear mission for every process model. It provides you clear elicitation agendas so that you can be asking the right questions at the right times in your model’s development. It tells you what to look for and how to accurately and unambiguously identify, normalise and define any business process and/or activity. It includes a validation step with comprehensive and tailorable process model quality criteria. It informs you about key process model stakeholders and how to engage them in the model’s development. It also includes reusable BPMN modeling patterns for the most common types of process model refinements.
Ed has taught and mentored business analysts and project managers in best practices for corporations and professional organizations such as PMI and IIBA. Ed teaches IIBA-registered courses and is an advisor to Business Analysis and Process Analysis certificate programs at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Canada. Ed has decades of practical enterprise system and business transformation experience. Most recently, he has delivered a hugely successful, transformational cloud-based enterprise-wide Human Resource Management and Payroll implementation for a Canadian chartered bank. He understands that it’s not only necessary to have a strong grasp and discipline of using the best techniques but to tailor them to the unique opportunities and constraints that present themselves with every engagement. How to do that is the subject of Ed’s 2018 book: Universal Process Modeling Procedure: The Practical Guide to High-Quality Business Process Models.
Copyright Ed Metera, Senior Project Manager, Canadian Western Bank