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the business process handbook ian ramsay ‌ a practical collection of process improvement tools, techniques, shortcuts & delivery ideas to help you enjoy rapid & lasting benefits from business process change.

Copyright Š 2008, 2009 by Ian Ramsay All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. Printed in the United Kingdom First Release: <October 2008> ISBN: x-xxx-x-xxxx-x

contents Process Basics

Process Components

Process Design

why understand a process

business events events define scope human behaviour patterns process goals & plans process data disorder the process dossier business rules non-business rules

design for process testing design for common understanding design for compliance design for quality design for training design for effectiveness design for MI design for efficiency design for workflow design for software introduction design for process automation

what are processes really process change business change methods typical process problems process terminology service industry processes sequence & flow anatomy of work transaction systems manual workflow automated workflow business process automation process control process improvement options

Business Modelling modelling concepts clarity of communication the language of process 500 activity verbs getting organised for modelling artefacts of process change bpmn on a page modelling tools chaos & complexity non-functional modelling

Process Analysis analysis in a nutshell elicit the basic units of work create a process architecture discover case data design a logical dossier specify key case states avoid flowcharts (for now) develop goals & plans classify business rules organise business rules apply proven process patterns

Process Delivery beware common delivery obstacles process change work breakdown apply appropriate methods msp, prince2, scrum, rup etc. governance

Web Resources



process stake holders this book is for you

Since processes, of one form or another, are so pervasive, this handbook is really for everybody, but it will be of particular interest to â&#x20AC;Ś Line Managers & Executives of all levels - who need to understand, influence, resource & monitor business processes, from simple departmental activities to processes that have an impact on the whole enterprise. You need the organisation to embody an effective & governed approach to describing, improving & conducting the business. Operational Staff who conduct the key business processes on a daily basis & genuinely understand the true process requirements & dynamics, first hand. Some of you may find most of your time spent explaining the process, you are now a Business Process Analyst. You need a new language, clear design patterns and a logical approach to enable effective process discussions with others.

Project & Programme Managers lead the change initiatives designed to improve our organisations. Besides your chosen change methodology, (which interestingly, is really a form of process), you will be challenged daily by having to transform the current business process, including itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s embedded people & information technologies, to a new improved state. You need tools and techniques to conduct process change within acceptable levels of risk & appropriate governance. IT Architects, Designers & Developers are critical to successful business process operations or improvement. You need to design and implement a context for automating potentially complex processes yet maintain clarity of communications and decision making with nontechnical stake holders. You need to leverage the latest ideas and technical frameworks to expedite, high quality & enduring solutions.


our theme getting the job done … This practical handbook is focussed upon “getting the job done”. That’s the all important job of changing valuable business processes, quickly & at low risk in such way that the benefits of change persist.

Many project artefacts, as shown here, have evolved to provide such a “common language” but still suffer from misinterpretation & endless editing cycles, both of which can detract from the business need for fast, low risk results.

Quite simply, we need a way to quickly understand our key business processes, proven shortcuts to design thoughtful process improvements & the formality to leverage even more benefits through business process automation.

This handbook will focus on improving the more problematic process change artefacts and delivery models, without any attempt to educate or evaluate other useful methods that may also be employed.

Benefits from process change typically out rank most other forms of business change. For example, ref ining aspects of the business model or a key process is usually more potent than Business Strategy adding staff or reorganising. The contemporary service • Senior Management organisation is now permanently in a state of change. • External Forces A core competency in change management is as equally important to the organisation as traditional excellence in the line functions like marketing, sales or say underwriting.

• • • • •

Process change initiatives can also appear quite complex, if not approached with some appropriate rigour or proven process analysis & design methods (many of which can be found in this handbook).

Change Management

All successful change initiatives demand strong senior leadership supported by committed engagement of the business and some form of change function. More often than not the information systems team must also be engaged. While each of the five stake-holder groups contribute specialist skills & diverse perspectives it is the “bit” between them that becomes critical if we are to leverage such a team ... they must always be able to communicate effectively and on many occasions with high precision.

• • • •

Organisation Plans Operational Principles Operating Budget Operating Metrics

Business Operations • Supervisors • Case Handlers • Administrators

Programme Brief Blueprint for Change Programme Dossier Project Brief Change Budget

• Programme Manager • Project Managers / PMO • Process Analysts

• • • • •

Process Requirements Process Design Test Approach Training Artefacts Transition / Support

Information Strategy • CIO • Architects • IT Methods

• • • •

Architectural Artefacts Operational Policies Security Policies Environment Plans

Information Delivery • Designers, Developers • Operations, Support • External Suppliers


our intent ... â&#x20AC;&#x153;Brilliant process management is our strategy. We get brilliant results from average people managing brilliant processes. We observe that our competitors often get average (or worse) results from brilliant people managing broken processes.â&#x20AC;? Senior Executive Toyota 4

our reality ... “We want this, & that, we demand a share in that & most of that, some of this, & all of that, less of that and more of this, & plenty of this, & another thing … we want it now, I want it yesterday, I want more tomorrow & the demands will all be changed then, so stay awake!” Billy Connelly - Comedian & Keen Observer of Reality


process basics 6

why understand a process some common business reasons

Business processes continuously evolve, much like towns & transport systems do. There are some constraints on change but in reality most participants are empowered to make small changes within their remit on an ongoing basis. This all adds up & in the case of towns may create undesired consequences like traffic jams and slums. The same is true of business processes. We undertake business process change for a number of reasons which means we need to understand business processes from a number of different perspectives. Usually we do process analysis for the purposes of supporting one of the following intentions ... ‣

Compliance - analyse & refurbish the process area to clearly show that the process meets FSA & other regulations.

Quality - formalise all details of the process so we can measure ongoing conformity & support audit activities.

Efficiency & Effectiveness - better understand those aspects of a process that can be improved, removed, automated or outsourced.

Benefits Analysis - define the net change in a process in support of financial analysis & decision making.

Training - express aspects of the process in a form that is consistent with operations & appropriate for staff, partner or client training.

Business Merger - establish rigourous process clarity in support of operational migration & merger of common process components.

Application Software - integrating a package into our desired process is not dissimilar to modelling a business merger. The software package assumes one process model, but we need to merge and align the greater business process.

Workflow - analyse the process for the purposes of automating how people interact with the process.

Process Automation (BPM) - analyse the process & the associated business rules with enough rigour to configure an automated BPMS process automation solution.


what are processes ... are they important

Businesses, organisations exist to add value to our lives by adding value to materials or providing services. In the simplest form, organisations deploy capital, people & equipment (like computers, machines & facilities) to add such value.

We don’t just have one worker but countless people, networked computers and external parties, all interacting with this business process information, or the dossier, as we will call it in this handbook.

These are all tangible things, things we can touch, but without the orchestration of work & resources, defined by an intangible thing called a process, the results would most likely be a complete mess & not considered very valuable.

So, co-ordinating the work & optimising resources while exceeding customer expectations becomes exponentially difficult. Processes are now the most important valueadding aspect of the modern financial services business. But they need to harmonise with the workers and infrastructure not conflict.

So common sense dictates we organise work to optimise use of our resources & therefore add maximum value for our customers. A process is both the definition and execution of this formally organised structure of work.

With the acknowledgement that processes are critically important come the need to:

In early manufacturing businesses, processes were quite simple. Clay would be dug out, shaped into a brick, stacked in a kiln, cooled & sold. A string of actions, performed by people on a physical object. There was little need to write this down or display models as all the workers had the process clearly in their head. Fast forward to today’s interdependent service economy. We are not dealing with anything tangible, like clay, but instead elusive, abstract & distributed information. Bank Account Details, Insurance Policies, Health Records and the list goes on ...


‣ ‣ ‣ ‣ ‣ ‣

understand existing processes document & communicate process models improve & design new processes automate processes deliver new processes into operation monitor & control processes in operation

Peop le

Comp u t e rs

(Va lu e Add in g) Ac ti vi t y

This handbook offers a new process centric perspective on your business along with numerous tools & techniques to understand processes & optimise your operations.

Da ta ss e c ro P f o r e i ss Do

process change destination or journey

For fear of penning yet more clichés about change, let’s just agree it’s ever present in life & business.

External Change

Internal Change

Not all change is planned. Governments, markets & On occasions we even surprise ourselves with Change therefore affects most things we see & do, competitors regularly surprise us with new unexpected change from within. In my experience, most of the time. regulations, sudden opportunities & potential threats. sales & marketing groups probably do more to force process change, as well as process failure and, in the I’m sure there are other descriptions of business What’s the answer? Business agility is the usual set extreme, business failure. They have an optimistic change but the implication remains the same ... we response, but what does that mean? What actually belief that the rest of the company will swing in must be competent at managing change, whether it enables more agility. behind them & mysteriously reinvent the process to was a result of our own decisions or thrust upon us by In my experience agility is certainly possible when support different products, new channels, altered external circumstance. processes are modular in nature and well understood. propositions and unusual new customer types. Process change is clearly an endless journey, Even more so, when a culture of change & The mere act of signing a radically different contract punctuated with interim destinations or way-points appropriate governance exists. with a new client, for a service we don’t even deliver, as we formally release improved versions of our Or, if we implement such change expediently upon should be impetus enough for the rest of the organisation process into production. the poorly understood foundations of previous rushed to instantly invent a set of supporting processes that meet What follows are a few important observations attempts we eventually run out of options & become customer expectations. regarding successful process change. highly vulnerable to any change. This behaviour tends to isolate sales, mainly because For example, could you quickly outsource half your call we know how hard it has been to alter our core centre team to address immediate growth in a singe processes, but perhaps this is back to front. product line & do so without customers detecting any Instead of trying to constrain sales & marketing (too change in service? (Note: Advertising an extra phone much) I suggest we should probably embrace the number, or complicating the IVR menu is NOT the twists & turns they uncover in the marketplace. Why correct answer.) not help sales & marketing engage as equal stake Preparing an operation to be “agile” is therefore holders in the journey of constant business process something that needs to be done in advance but change. They are, after all, closest to the customer usually offers no immediate pay back. Hence, few but they are not well versed in process design. organisations can claim to be truly agile as the payback is not that obvious in the short-term.


process terminology worth knowing process

1 ¦ prə


a series of actions or steps taken to achieve a particular end, preferably a value-added outcome for a customer : the insurance claims process involves steps to determine the liability & settlement amount. Processes can be small (the approval process) or large (the underwriting process for a satellite) but they always start & end with an event.

dossier ¦ d

s ə¦ ¦- e ¦ ¦-je ¦

a relevant collection of documents about a particular person, event, or process case : an insurance claims handler records all claims data, actions & outcomes in a claims file or dossier. The dossier in financial services processes is equivalent to the physical product in a manufacturing process.

event ¦ vɛnt¦ a thing that happens, typically a change in the state of a process, its dossier or one of its participants : all insurance claims start with a notice of loss event & conclude with a settlement or rejection event, or the expiration of a 14 day of a cooling off period


procedure ¦prə siːdʒə¦ an established or official way of doing work within a process, typically manually & often quite sequential: claims handlers always follow the documented procedure for establishing liability.


1 ¦ke

an instance of a particular process usually focussed upon a single dossier entity : a motor claims case or Mr Petrol’s specific collision claim case.

bpmn business process management notation: provides a standardised graphical notation for specifying business processes in a flowchart style. Similar to IDEF0 ...

workflow the visible sequence of manual work seen in a process, often orchestrated by workflow software which allocate the next task, but relies on people to perform specific procedures and manage the case data or dossier, which in turn may be in another computer system.

service industry processes what are we working with ... What exactly are the characteristics of a service? How do service products, like car insurance, differ from a tangible manufactured product like the car itself ?

Services exhibit the following five characteristics that are quite contrary to the more obvious nature of manufactured products. ey each pose a challenge to understanding process models and conducting business transformation. 1. Lack of Ownership Customers cannot own and store a service, as they can a product. Services are used or hired for some time then simply go away. For example, an insurance policy lasts for a year. You have the rights to claim during that period but then the instance of that policy disappears forever, unless renewed. Service processes are usually “long-lived”, lasting days or even years, even though the customer may only get shorter glimpses of the process, such as contacting a call centre.

2. Intangible

3. Inseparable

You cannot hold or touch a service unlike a product. In saying that, customers & staff typically do create a tangible impression of the service in their mind.

Services cannot be separated from the service providers. A product when produced can be taken away from the producer & even resold.

Customers might say, “is policy contains all the coverage we need”. ey visualise the intangible service as a tangible product. While modelling processes we need to construct a virtual embodiment of the information based service, this is the Dossier. We will soon introduce the idea of a Dossier to assist the more rigourous analysis of intangible service processes.

A doctor cannot delegate his or her diagnostic services, just like an nominee investment company is locked to the Government approved set of services they can offer. 4. Perishable Services last a specific time and cannot be stored like a product for later use. e setup cost of delivering the service has to be repeated, as does the delivery cost itself. Every new life insurance policy application, of a particular type, incurs the same medical and underwriting costs for every applicant. However, most services can be formalised through training and automation to limit the effect of perishability and setup costs.

A call centre process that helps one client access the company web site, for say enrolment, may be identical to, or of a very similar pattern to most such requests & can therefore be quite systematised. 5. Heterogeneous It is very difficult to make each service experience identical. Services are often complex & usually involve people. Complex things involving humans can often involve errors or variable strategies to achieve completion. Clients (& investors) are highly sensitised to process variability & tend to seek a consistent quality, over time, with price, approach, routine & empathy. It’s important to conduct the claims process consistently, so clients know we are in control. ey should enjoy predictable service, while we see less fraud & better retention.


sequence & flow

work is sequenced, information flows

Before we start drawing flow charts & other fun diagrams it’s worth being very clear that there are only two sorts of things “flowing” throughout a process. Flow of SEQUENCE or Control to indicate which activities must occur in which order. Flow of control is usually shown with a solid arrow. Flow of INFORMATION to express what data or case document information is being passed around. Information flow is usually shown as an arrow with a dotted line. In this retro office picture, one could imagine information being passed “sideways” between the administrators & their assistants, while the flow of work or control “moves down” the administrator aisle sequentially. Things get more interesting when computers are involved. There are other things on certain UML diagrams that look like flow arrows, but they are actually things called relationships. For now, we can just focus on SEQUENCE arrows & INFORMATION arrows.


anatomy of work the most basic repeating pattern of business activity In an office, workers & computers perform activities to change things & so add value. This is the general unit of value adding work in a service business. A group of these units linked in co-ordinated action & directed at a goal constitutes a process.




The focus of our value adding efforts are information objects like; facts, paper documents, computer database records & even customer perception. We call these particular things case data or a Dossier to give them some substance & identity. In essence the Dossier is the “product” we are “manufacturing” to provide a valued customer service & so earn money. Let’s consider time & sequence. Workers, like people & computers, can only change things at a certain time, or more precisely after certain other events have happened. So units of work are sequenced, sometimes we understand the sequence up front, other times it has to be decided by a person or computer, case by case. The claim can only be assessed after liability has been established, OR this claim is beyond me, I must involve my supervisor.. Equally the Dossier of paper, computer files & customer records should only exist in discrete valid case states. For example, an application is only a valid application when the customer’s identity is formally established.

performs start event






exit event


case data

case state



anatomy of work

some examples of basic business activity sales

renewal event


contact system




call back event

calendar event





approved event

valid application EDM & CRM Data

equity system



application details


new application portfolio


submitted event

While we may often just refer to the Activity when modelling a process, it’s important to remember that there is almost always the additional modelling concepts involved …

submitted event



account details




In one way these examples may seem trivial, but in another they illustrate the many dimensions of a business process, attributes that often elude quality analysis.


approved event





order investment file

pending event

Human Participant performing some Role ‣ Automated Participant ‣ A Start Event ‣ An Exit Event ‣ A Dossier of some sort (usually a mix of other files) ‣ Relevant Case Data ‣ An Initial & Final Case State, and of course ‣ The Process Activity itself. It’s important to be quite explicit about all these attributes of a process at some stage in the modelling & definition.

transaction systems

people sequence work with tightly controlled data



Before computers, this is how all information based service work was conducted. It was slow and inefficient. But in another way manual workflow is quite simple, and gives us some idea as to the key elements of a service process. All the process case data was held on paper in a single folder or binder (so the data was all together), only one person had authority to work on the file or alter it (so security & authorisation was implied), then by handing the file to the next person, the flow of SEQUENCE AND INFORMATION happened simultaneously. Handing off information and control at the same time often happens in real-world office processes, but can lead to errors and confusion during process analysis and design. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s best to keep the two concepts separated, always, even when they do happen at the same time & place. The other interesting characteristic of manual workflow is dynamic routing. People can apply a lot of rules, both formal and informal (including political & rules of selfinterest), to determine who next to assign the work. For example, if George normally approves simple underwriting decisions below ÂŁ500k but this case has some special issues to approve, letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just hand it to Sara now, as George will probably do that anyway. So despite the bad image of manual workflows they do have some redeeming , as the Japanese found with the Kanban Just in Time card system of manufacturing resource management.


manual workflow

people sequence work & manage data




Before computers, this is how all information based service work was conducted. It was slow and inefficient. But in another way manual workflow is quite simple, and gives us some idea as to the key elements of a service process. All the process case data was held on paper in a single folder or binder (so the data was all together), only one person had authority to work on the file or alter it (so security & authorisation was implied), then by handing the file to the next person, the flow of SEQUENCE AND INFORMATION happened simultaneously. Handing off information and control at the same time often happens in real-world office processes, but can lead to errors and confusion during process analysis and design. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s best to keep the two concepts separated, always, even when they do happen at the same time & place. The other interesting characteristic of manual workflow is dynamic routing. People can apply a lot of rules, both formal and informal (including political & rules of selfinterest), to determine who next to assign the work. For example, if George normally approves simple underwriting decisions below ÂŁ500k but this case has some special issues to approve, letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just hand it to Sara now, as George will probably do that anyway. So despite the bad image of manual workflows they do have some redeeming , as the Japanese found with the Kanban Just in Time card system of manufacturing resource management.

managed workflow software sequences work but people manage data


In the 1990â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s many software packages evolved to manage the flow of work between staff and the distribution of work across teams. So the Flow of SEQUENCE was defined but the Flow of Information was still left to the initiative of the office worker. This seemed like a good idea but in hindsight was more of a benefit for management, who desire command and control over business processes, rather than customers who desire a prompt, professional outcome from the process & its data. This is the predominant process management model ! found throughout service industries today. A mix of manual and automated control that, designed correctly, can deliver many benefits. But with many loosely connected layers of control and informal information flow such a process solution model adds a level of complexity, at the same time as it offers improved visibility & control of work items. Maintenance and evolution of such solutions can be difficult due to the complex mix of partial automation. Quite often, important business rules get frozen into the flow of work rather than isolated for possible future refinement. On a more positive note, one can design a managed workflow solutions to support a controlled level of dynamic routing, just like the fully manual model.


business process automation extensive automation of work & data



Full automation appears the ultimate process implementation scenario. Automated processes have negligible cost & will happily operate error-free day & night for years. But of course, such software solutions demand a well understood process model with explicit business rules, plus an investment in robust design & (BPMS) software configuration. Well executed, such a level of process change can deliver dramatic benefits. It is generally beneficial to integrate existing (transactional) computer systems into a complete process solution. Such data integration can have its challenges but is dramatically simplified using the concept of a logical Dossier as described in this handbook. ! All process automation tools (or Business Process Management Systems BPMS) manage a more sophisticated form of work sequencing than workflow systems, but not so many provide seamless access to process case data, local or remote. Such functionality is central to automation of service processes. Since highly automated processes need to execute all the actions & updates a person might perform, including exceptions & error handling, it makes sense to â&#x20AC;&#x153;model the process in the way that people work, then (preferably) configure the automation tool with the same patterns of workâ&#x20AC;?. Such methods again deliver substantial benefits quickly at low risk.

process control

people & computers require guidance


How do people, or computers for that matter “know” what to do? There is something else lingering in the shadows that controls the outcome of a process. Computers have software programmes that control their dutiful behaviour. People have more resources available to guide processing behaviour, such as; procedures manual, process knowledge from training and on the job experience, advice from other colleagues and ultimately, “common sense” or “gut feel”. In a way, the people and computers have a model of the current state process in their head, in various procedure manuals and software documentation. Include some missing case data, often squirrelled away on customer forms (web or paper) & informal data stores like spreadsheets & we ! almost have the complete definition of the current state process. Simple. Easy, if you know where to look, except how do we extract, or elicit, this information in a meaningful form? Without digressing into the vagaries of human cognition, experience tells us that it can be devilishly difficult to get people to explain what they do. Sometimes information is withheld for political or personal reasons of job security, but more more commonly it’s a simple communication breakdown, office staff don’t think like business analysts & vice versa. It was this reality that led us to craft the methods of goal directed design explained in this handbook.


process improvement options do we try to understand the process, the outcome or both ...

Sector Focus

Starting Point Approach

Improve & Change using Process Analysis

Measure & Refine using Statistical Analysis

Service Industries like Finance, Healthcare & Public Sector

Manufacturing, Distribution & Retail Industries

… benefit from this approach, because the subject of the process is largely intangible information or state changes that form a customer service outcome. It is very difficult to properly understand the service process outcome without understanding the process case data and how it is processed.

… benefit from this approach because the subject of the process is a tangible, measurable physical object, ultimately a customer product. We are more interested in the quality and variability of the final product than all the end-to-end process detail that built the product.

Assume the process is not well understood & requires prompt yet sustainable improvement.

Assume the process is reasonably well understood and working OK, but would benefit from ongoing incremental refinement.


1. 2. 3.

4. 5.

De-code & document the current process in some detail for all to understand. Define & collect baseline performance metrics. Analyse & design an improved version using Goal Directed Design or other approach. Introduce automation & new procedures . Measure benefits using defined metrics.

• • • •

Secures broad understanding & buy-in. Solid foundation for substantial initial change & large benefits. Basis for future incremental / agile development & automation. Enables creative development of whole new process solutions.

While most staff can learn Goal Directed Process Analysis & Design there usually exists some training lead time and cost. Best suited for fixing and building automated solutions, including workflow and call centre operations.

2. 3.




4. 5.

No need to understand or analyse the current process too deeply. Monitor appropriate baseline performance metrics for problems. Based upon variation or defects trace the root cause of any problem to the contributing aspect of the current process. Analyse & design an improvement to that specific aspect of the process, perhaps using Goal Directed Design or other approach. Continue to monitor performance & measure benefits using defined metrics. Can save time by focussing the attention on specific process problem areas but may need time to collect valid data. It’s generally easier to grasp a small portion of a process than the lot despite the risk of unintended impacts elsewhere. Statistical methods require a lot of specialist training and are generally delegated to experts, often called “Black Belts”. Statistical analysis is "narrowly designed to fix an existing process" and does not help in "inventing new products or disruptive technologies.”

process modelling î&#x20AC;&#x20AC;e first step in gaining control over an organization is to know & understand the basic processes. (Deming, 1982; Juran, 1988; Taylor, 1911)


process modelling

some common terms and concepts

We do not need to get overly academic about business analysis & design, but putting some terminology into context up front will assist. Not just because the information industry has cooked up endless confusing acronyms & concepts, but also because humans understand & model the real world a special way. Let’s start with people. We employ at least two powerful mental concepts to make sense of the world… ‣

Continual Forecasting (perhaps subconsciously) of what we expect to happen & reacting based upon the actual outcome. We have a very strong opinion on what the future will hold, or what we’d like it to hold, whether it be the next few seconds, many months or even years. We are completely goal driven, even if the goal is nothing more than maintaining the status-quo. Reusable Mental Models of abstract concepts or relationships are used to organise our thinking and analysis. Words & numbers are two simple models we use, but the bulk of the population prefer to learn and process information using visual techniques; like face recognition, road signs & diagrams, more than often on the back of a pub coaster.


Real World




How the business actually behaves & operates.

Models showing how the Business is expected to operate.

Formal visual language & approaches to business modelling.

Ultimate definition of modelling language syntax.

Operating metrics show Behaviour, Efficiency, Effectiveness & Quality of the running Business.

Various views of Business Process Scope, Goals, Plans, Dossiers, Events, Sequence Diagrams & Environment.

Meaningful process patterns for use with Goal Directed Modelling, BPMN, UML, RIVA, ERD, State Machines etc ...

A rather academic perspective on modelling. Out of scope & irrelevant for our context. See MOF & XMI for more details.

This schematic shows how we tend to organise Reusable Mental Models when doing business analysis & design, in ever increasing levels of abstraction. At the left is the Real World. This is what really happens in the business on a daily basis & it can, on occasions appear to behave in a very complex fashion. Our challenge now is to understand this business complexity &, being human, we use Models. Not just a single model, but quite a number of model perspectives are usually required to tell the story of the business more rigourously. It’s worth remembering that there’s no such thing as a perfect model, however ... some are more useful than others.

Since we want others to share in our understanding, we need to conform to a generally understood Modelling Language, or even languages, that formally describes each of the model perspectives. By formalising a consistent language, many more people can now understand our story. There are many such modelling language constructs &, like the English language, they can be used quite poorly or most effectively depending how you approach the task. One way to improve the effectiveness of communication, either using written English or visual modelling, is to apply well tested patterns of language, reusable patterns that are robust, unambiguous & correlate well to the topic at hand.

clarity of communication 3 levels of understanding Business process models & documentation can appear quite complex, but they are only constructed from fundamental units of work, & a few visual components. So we should be able to define them in words or pictures that everybody understands. Correct? Well, non-manufacturing processes can actually be elusive to describe rigourously. The <object> being transformed or processed is not a physical item, it’s a <case>, a piece of information. It’s also a virtual case that can be altered simultaneously by multiple <workers>, with <activities> that are, in turn, guided by <time> & <events>. So we need to be thoughtful & consistent in how we communicate such potentially complex ideas. There are at least 4 diverse audiences who all have to acquire the same, unambiguous understanding of the process each with different perspectives, interests & attention spans. ‣ ‣ ‣ ‣

Expect to present all design artefacts in 3 layers of consistent detail for unambiguous comprehension by all stake holders. Conceptual Layer: presents key Concepts, Context & Constraints to clarify terminology & establish scope. Logical Layer: describes “how” all key business process components interact & relate in a logical sense. Detail Layer: adds adequate knowledge to explain exactly “how” the process operates & forms the blueprint for actual change projects or process automation.

❸ ❷

Business Users Senior Management Project Management Technical Suppliers


the language of process a pervasive pattern

Curiously enough, if you express any fundamental pattern of work in words it forms a standard sentence of meaning in English, &, I assume, most other languages. For example… The administrator updates the customer record. The customer returns the form. You will remember from school the concept of … <subject> <verb> <object> In process analysis we narrow this to … <worker> <activity> <case> Since the business will be using sentences to describe the process to you, this concept will help keep you alert to activities worth analysing. We explore <adjectives> & their relationship to business rules & case state later.


500 common activity <verbs> 500 process design clues

Accelerate, Accommodate, Accomplish, Accumulate, Achieve, Acquire, Act, Activate, Adapt, Add, Address, Adjust, Administer, Advertise, Advise, Advocate, Aid, Aide, Align, Allocate, Amend, Analyse, Answer, Anticipate, Apply, Appoint, Appraise, Approve, Arbitrate, Arrange, Articulate, Ascertain, Assemble, Assess, Assign, Assist, Assume, Attain, Attend, Attract, Audit, Augment, Author, Authorise, Automate, Avert, Award, Bargain, Begin, Bolster, Boost, Bought, Brief, Broaden, Budget, Build, Built, Calculate, Calibrate, Canvass, Capture, Care, Catalogue, Catalogue, Categorise, Cater, Cause, Centralise, Chair, Charge, Chart, Check, Clarify, Classify, Co-operate, Coach, Code, Collaborate, Collate, Collect, Combine, Comfort, Commence, Communicate, Compare, Compile, Complete, Compose, Compute, Conceive, Conciliate, Conclude, Condense, Conduct, Confer, Confirm, Connect, Conserve, Consider, Consolidate, Construct, Consult, Contact, Contract, Contribute, Control, Convert, Convey, Convince, Co-operate, Co-ordinate, Copy, Correct, Correlate, Correspond, Counsel, Create, Critique, Cultivate, Customise, Dealt with, Debate, Debug, Decide, Decrease, Dedicate, Deduce, Defend, Defer, Define, Delegate, Deliver, Demonstrate, Depict, Depreciated, Derive, Describe, Design, Detail, Detect, Determine, Develop, Devise, Devote, Diagnose, Diagram, Differentiate, Direct, Discharge, Disclose, Discover, Discriminate, Discuss, Dispatch, Display, Dissect, Disseminate, Distinguish, Distribute, Diversify, Document, Draft, Draw, Drew, Earn, Edit, Educate, Effect,

Elect, Elicit, Eliminate, Emphasise, Employ, Enable, Encourage, Enforce, Engineer, Enhance, Enlarge, Enlighten, Enlist, Enrich, Ensure, Enter, Entertain, Enumerate, Equip, Establish, Estimate, Evaluate, Examine, Exchange, Execute, Exercise, Exhibit, Expand, Expedite, Experiment, Explain, Explore, Express, Extend, Extract, Extrapolate, Fabricate, Facilitate, Familiarise, Fashion, File, Filter, Finalise, Fine-tune, Fix, Focus, Forecast, Formulate, Fortify, Forward, Foster, Found, Frame, Fund, Furnish, Further, Gather, Gauge, Generate, Govern, Grade, Grant, Greet, Guide, Handle, Head, Help, Highlight, Hire, Host, Identify, Illustrate, Impart, Implement, Import, Improve, Improvise, Incorporate, Increase, Index, Individualise, Influence, Inform, Initiate, Innovate, Inspect, Inspire, Install, Institute, Instruct, Insure, Integrate, Interact, Interface, Interpret, Intervene, Interview, Introduce, Invent, Inventory, Investigate, Involve, Join, Judge, Justify, Label, Launch, Lead, Learn, Lecture, License, Lighten, Liquidate, List, Listen, Litigate, Lobby, Localise, Locate, Log, Maintain, Manage, Manufacture, Map, Market, Master, Maximise, Measure, Mechanise, Mediate, Mentor, Merge, Minimise, Mobilise, Model, Moderate, Modernise, Modify, Monitor, Motivate, Narrate, Navigate, Negotiate, Notify, Nurse, Nurture, Observe, Obtain, Officiate, Offset, Operate, Orchestrate, Order, Organise, Orient, Orientate, Originate, Outline, Overhaul, Oversaw, Oversee, Package, Participate, Perceive, Perfect, Perform, Persuade, Photograph, Pilot, Pioneer, Plan, Practice, Predict, Prepare, Present, Preserve,

Preside, Prevent, Print, Prioritise, Probe, Process, Produce, Program, Project, Promote, Propose, Provide, Publicise, Publish, Purchase, Qualify, Quantify, Quote, Raise, Ran, Rank, Rate, Read, Reason, Recall, Recognise, Recommend, Reconcile, Record, Recreate, Recruit, Rectify, Reduce, Refer, Refine, Register, Regulate, Rehabilitate, Reinforce, Relate, Related, Release, Remodel, Render, Renew, Reorganise, Repair, Replace, Report, Represent, Research, Reserve, Resolve, Respond, Restore, Restrict, Retain, Retrieve, Revamp, Reveal, Review, Revise, Revitalise, Route, Sample, Save, Scan, Schedule, Screen, Script, Scrutinise, Search, Secure, Segment, Select, Serve, Service, Set goals, Set up, Settle, Shape, Share, Show, Simplify, Simulate, Sketch, Sold, Solicit, Solve, Sort, Speak, Spearhead, Specialise, Specify, Spoke, Stage, Standardise, Start, Stimulate, Straighten, Streamline, Strengthen, Structure, Study, Submit, Substantiate, Substitute, Suggest, Summarise, Supervise, Supply, Support, Surpass, Survey, Sustain, Symbolise, Synthesise, Systematise, Tabulate, Tail, Target, Taught, Teach, Tend, Terminate, Test, Time, Tour, Trace, Track, Trade, Train, Transcribe, Transfer, Transform, Translate, Transmit, Transport, Transpose, Travel, Treat, Triple, Troubleshot, Tutor, Uncover, Undertook, Unify, Unveil, Update, Upgrade, Upheld, Use, Utilise, Validate, Value, Verify, View, Visit, Visualise, Vitalise, Volunteer, Weigh, Widen, Win, Withdraw, Witness, Write, Zero.


business process change a journey of constant communication

How the Business ACTUALLY behaves & operates.

How the STAFF see the Business operating

How the ANALYSTS interpret the Staff.

the Culture Workflows the IT Systems Operational Policies Procedures Manuals Team Behaviour Quality & SLAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s StaďŹ&#x20AC; Training Tacit Case & Process Knowledge Events, Goals & Plans Flowcharts Decision Tables Product Specification Requirements Specifications Functional Mock Ups

How DEVELOPMENT interpret the Analysts.


Use Case Diagrams Data Models Bill of Materials Unit Test Scripts Wireframes Deployment Model

How the Business EVENTUALLY behaves & operates.

How the TRANSITION Team interpret the Analysts.

How the TEST Team interpret the Analysts.

Updated IT Systems Revitalised Culture More Automated Processes Updated Operational Policies

Training Material Pilot Process Testing New Procedures Manuals New Operating Policies

Test Scripts Usability

Process Architecture Events, Goals & Plans Pre-Requisite Plan Rules Plan Flow Diagrams Other Business Rules Logical Dossier & States Business Services Product Specification Requirements Specification Functional Mock Ups

simple bpmn



QU EN CE w Flo

st TI V AC

Enter New Details


Recall that 2 of the core ingredients of a process were the Flows of SEQUENCE & Flows of INFORMATION.


How to draw arrows in a BPMN style diagram seems like a trivial topic, but I have seen it cause serious design confusion & disruption. It’s worth getting quite clear on the accepted & usefully simple protocol.



llo w TI ing VI TY

avoid confusing your model

Print Quotation

tat i no An so cia tio n

Client Details



DA T Ob A jec t

Other “arrow-looking” things may appear on our diagrams but they just indicate ASSOCIATIONS we use to relate text & other attributes to a diagram. Given that most associations at this level are bi-directional they do not really need directional arrow heads. Rounded rectangles refer to process ACTIVITIES (what we do) & document icons refer to CASE DATA (the target of our activity).


Dashed arrows show the Flow of INFORMATION or messages.

Flo E w



Solid arrows represent SEQUENCE Flow & show the transfer of control. Which activities must complete before others are started.




Process Diagram Arrows can represent only one of the following two concepts …


chaos & complexity In reality, very few operating business processes are ever in a state of chaos, but they certainly can appear that way. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s actually complexity rather than chaos we are trying analyse. Of course, complexity analysed poorly can lead to chaos. Our challenge is therefore to deeply understand the real patterns of work & represent them in a way thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s generally useful for all involved. In a sense we have to give-in to the way office processes behave & adjust our analysis approach to embrace the real dynamics, rather than force fitting our own, quite structured view of the world. By aligning our models more closely to the real process behaviour we simplify the analysis task & simultaneously improve communications among stake holders. In the following sections we introduce 4 new concepts to help formalise the complexity of contemporary office processes. 1. PROCESS GOALS & PLANS 2. PROCESS DOSSIER 3. BUSINESS EVENTS 4. BUSINESS PROCESS PATTERNS


process components 29

Business Process Handbook  

A new way to look at front & back office business processes that enables rapid benefits from process automation.