Inovus Intelligence - Insights on IT Alignment                            January 2016

Understanding Business Process Modeling 

Even when organizations know that their current business processes have fallen out of compliance or can no longer be adapted to maintain efficient, competitive operations, they often find it difficult to effect action against this awareness. Business process modeling offers a path forward by facilitating identification of an organization’s current business processes and examination of these processes in connection with best practices. With this intelligence, the organization can re-engineer existing business processes so that they better align with those best practices.

One barrier to undertaking business process modeling is that very few organizations have an in-house staff-member with the requisite knowledge and experience to direct the process. Bringing in expert help is an essential and important first step. Led by a person skilled in business analysis and in facilitating group discussions — and equipped with a well-established methodology for developing documentation throughout the process — this effort can bring significant benefits.

In some cases, this expert will employ Lean or Six Sigma techniques and tools such as Microsoft Visio, IBM Blueworks, yWorks or Lucidchart to support process modeling and improvement. This person also must work with business process SMEs to understand nuances specific to the organization and align them with the capabilities of the new, existing or enhanced systems that will be used to support this process. While the organization is responsible for the overall vision and direction of the project, the facilitator will use discovery sessions to determine the current state of businesses processes and to uncover issues that must be addressed within a particular component or process related to a larger business area. 

Business processes are reviewed and remodeled through a series of JAD sessions that include the facilitator and the functional SMEs and teams responsible for the execution and management of the process, as well as those teams affected by the process. These sessions represent a significant time commitment, but they are key to capturing the detail necessary for effective change. Using his or her expertise to document this process information, the facilitator enables the organization to look at the end-to-end flow of business processes for both current and future state.

By employing a skilled professional or consultant to guide business process modeling every three to five years, an organization can ensure that it is proactively identifying and addressing any limits — technical, practical or other — related to its ability to operate efficiently and deliver highly competitive services. Business process modeling allows the organization to realize greater practical efficiencies, such as reducing the steps required to complete a process, and thereby cut the time, effort or cost associated with achieving a similar or better outcome.

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