The first part of this article aims at discussing business process management tools and the BPMN notation, identifying particular strengths of these tools and notation, supported by an example project case on business process re-engineering in part two of this article. We will explicitly consider the phases that we normally follow in realizing such a project (project organization, key people, tasks, resources, deliverables and a project management method). This will support our conclusions about strengths of the above-mentioned tools and notation.
In general, companies need Business Process Management (BPM) model(s), as a way of assuring good organization. The process mapping related to this is therefore essentially important. It appears like a key activity in managing and organizing all (business goal –driven) activities within a company.
In considering BPM strategies in our work, we are based on the PDCA interactive four-step management process (PDCA stands for ‘plan–do–check–act’); the PDCA process is typically used in considering quality issues. It is also known as the Deming circle (Walton & Edwards, 1988).
Figure 1: A typical PDCA model.
As suggested by Figure 1, a problem definition should come first, followed by analysis & objective setting, measures determination, consideration of alternative solutions, and identification of the best solution. All this concerns the planning. Then solutions need to be applied and evaluated, and finally improvement actions and/or standardization would need to be applied.
This is known in theory but applying adequate management and establishing appropriate control in practice remains a challenge.
As already mentioned, we aim in this article at considering BPM tools + BPMN notation, and identifying particular strengths of theirs with regard to the above challenge.
The remaining of this article is organized as follows: we will briefly introduce and discuss the BPMN notation; further on, we will consider a business process re-engineering process. In next week’s follow-up article; we then discuss these in the light of a case study, including the tool consideration and our main conclusions.
Modeling Strategy Using BPMN Notation
Being a business process modeling standard, BPMN was developed by Business Process Management Initiative (BPMI), and is currently maintained by the Object Management Group.With respect to this, it is interesting to consider BPMN from a methodological perspective – origin and which are the key elements, which it possesses. It is interesting not only discussing this but also establishing where to obtain more information and which are the principal institutions linked with BPMN.
Figure 2: A shipment process of a hardware retailer (a sample).
Figure 3: Order fulfilment and procurement (a sample).
Figure 2 and Figure 3 illustrate some important features of BPMN and for more information interested readers are referred to www.bpmn.org. For the sake of brevity, we will not discuss BPMN in more detail in the current section.
Process Re-Engineering Phases
As according to Dietz (1994), the re-engineering of business processes needs sound modeling and proper notations, such that the re-designed (part of the) business processes are guaranteed to fit in the broader context. As process improvement is concerned, the typical process re-engineering phases are to be taken in consideration, being reflected in addressing the following points: project organization, key people, tasks, resources, deliverables and project management method. For the sake of brevity, we will not go into further detail here, presenting only (for partial exemplification) the “Buldeza´s Project” that has been realized in the northern Bulgarian city of Pleven.
Figure 4: The approach followed in the “Buldeza’s Project.
As seen from Figure 4, the ‘to be’ situation is reached by properly projecting improvements, having an ‘as is’ situation as starting point. The way we are modeling and the notations we are using are thus of great importance for appropriately introducing our intention in a real-world business system.
In next week’s part 2 of this article, I will discuss in more detail the “Buldeza’s” Project as a case study.
Dietz, J.L.G. (1994): Modelling Business Processes for the Purpose of Redesign. In: Business Process Re-Engineering.
Walton, M., Edwards, W. (1988). The Deming Management Method. Berkley Publishing Group, New York (USA).