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Business Process Modelling

Business Process Modelling (BPM) is a modern term and methodology which has evolved through different stages and names, beginning during the 'division of labour' of the late 1700s, when manufacturing first moved into factories from cottage industry.

Broadly the term 'business' in Business Process Model/Modelling/modelling is interchangeable with 'organisation'. Business Process Modelling is not only carried out in conventional businesses; the methodology is increasingly applicable to all sorts of other organisations, for example government agencies and departments, charities, mutuals and cooperatives, etc.

Confusingly, the acronym BPM can mean different things, some closely related to Business Process Modelling; others less so. 'Business Process Management' is an example of a different and related meaning. More details are in the glossary below.

Business Process Modelling is a method for improving organisational efficiency and quality. Its beginnings were in capital/profit-led business, but the methodology is applicable to any organised activity.

The increasing transparency and accountability of all organisations, including public service and government, together with the modern complexity, penetration and importance of ICT (information and communications technology), for even very small organisations nowadays, has tended to heighten demand for process improvement everywhere. This means that Business Process Modelling is arguably more widely relevant than say Time and Motion Study or Total Quality Management (to name two earlier 'efficiency methodologies') were in times gone by.

Put simply Business Process Modelling aims to improve business performance by optimising the efficiency of connecting activities in the provision of a product or service.

Business Process Modelling techniques are concerned with 'mapping' and 'workflow' to enable understanding, analysis and positive change. Diagrams - essentially 'flow diagrams' - are a central feature of the methodology.

The diagrammatic representation of Business Process Modelling is commonly called 'notation'. Many and various proprietary software (off-the-shelf computer programs) exist to enable this, but the basic principles of Business Process Modelling can also be applied using a pen and a table-napkin or a flip-chart or a bunch of sticky notes, and in some cases these are still effective aids for creating and communicating fundamental ideas. Computers sometimes get in the way, over-complicate simple things, and exclude groups. So choose your devices wisely. Business Process Modelling generally needs support from people to work in practice.

While Business Process Modelling relates to many aspects of management (business, organisation, profit, change, projects, etc) its detailed technical nature and process-emphasis link it closely with quality management and the analytical approaches and responsibilities arising in the improvement of quality.

Business Process Modelling is a quality management tool, like for example Six Sigma, and is useful especially in change management.

SWOT AnalysisBalanced Scorecard and Project Management methods provide further examples of change management tools, and Business Process Modelling can be regarded as working alongside these methods.

The term Business Process Model (also abbreviated to BPM) is the noun form of Business Process Modelling, and refers to a structural representation, description or diagram, which defines a specified flow of activities in a particular business or organisational unit.


A Business Process Model (BPM) is commonly a diagram representing a sequence of activities. It typically shows events, actions and links or connection points, in the sequence from end to end.

Sequence is significant and essential to most aspects of business process modelling, but there are exceptions to this especially at the higher level of organisational operations (see the note about sequence).

Typically but not necessarily, a Business Process Model includes both IT processes and people processes.

Business Process Modelling by implication focuses on processes, actions and activities, etc. Resources feature within BPM in terms of how they are processed. People (teams, departments, etc) feature in BPM in terms of what they do, to what, and usually when and for what reasons, especially when different possibilities or options exist, as in a flow diagram.

Business Process Modelling is cross-functional, usually combining the work and documentation of more than one department in the organisation.

In more complicated situations, Business Process Modelling may also include activities of external organisations' processes and systems that feed into the primary process.

In large organisations operations Business Process Models tend to be analysed and represented in more detail than in small organisations, due to scale and complexity.

Business Process Modelling is to an extent also defined by the various computerised tools or software which are used in applying its methods. These methods and the standard features within them continue to evolve, which means that we should keep an open and curious mind as to how BPM can be used, and what people actually mean when they refer to it.


A Business Process Model diagram is a tool - a means to an end, not a performance outcome in its own right.

The final output is improvement in the way that the business process works.

The focus of the improvements is on 'value added' actions that make the customer service and experience better, and on reducing wasted time and effort.

There are two main different types of Business Process Models:

  • the 'as is' or baseline model (the current situation)
  • and the 'to be' model (the intended new situation)

which are used to analyse, test, implement and improve the process.

The aim of modelling is to illustrate a complete process, enabling managers, consultants and staff to improve the flow and streamline the process.

The outcomes of a business process modelling project are essentially:

  • value for the customer, and

  • reduced costs for the company,

leading to increased profits.

Other secondary consequences arising from successful Business Process Modelling can be increased competitive advantage, market growth, and better staff morale and retention.

There are no absolute rules for the scope or extent of a Business Process Model in terms of departments and activities covered.

Before committing lots of resources to Business Process Modelling proper consideration should be given to the usefulness and focus of the exercise - ask the questions:

  • Does the modelling have the potential to produce gains that will justify the time and effort?
  • Will the modelling be structured so that people will understand the outputs (not too big and complex as to be self-defeating)?
  • Do people understand why we are doing it, and "what's in it for them"?

As with other management tools, there is no point producing a fantastically complex model that no-one can understand or use, just as it is a bit daft to spend hundreds of hours analysing anything which is of relatively minor significance.

Business Process Modelling is a powerful methodology when directed towards operations which can benefit from improvement, and when people involved are on-board and supportive.

Adding Value for the Customer

Adding value for customers, whether internal or external customers, is at the centre of a Business Process Model. It starts with a customer need and ends with the satisfaction of that need. Unlike a workflow diagram, which is generally focused on departmental activities, a BPM spans departments and the whole organisation.

This point about customers being internal as well as external is crucial:

Staff are among the internal customers of modern right-minded organisations.

If you approach Business Process Modelling purely from a systems and 'things' viewpoint with a fixation on costs and profitability, and squeezing every activity to its theoretical optimum, then people (notably staff) tend to get squeezed too.

Organisations work well when people enjoy and support the processes that they are required to perform, and you will only add sustainable value for your customers, when you also add value for your staff too.

Successful BPM added value for customers is self-sustaining because for staff it contains the magical WIIFM element - 'What's In It For Me'.

BPM Added Value: Example

An example could be the actions involved in processing a customer order from an internet-based mail order company.

  • Starting with a customer placing an order (the customer need)

  • send IT-based information to the warehouse

  • stock picking

  • packing and recording

  • sending the appropriate IT-based information to the distribution hub

  • sending IT-based information to the accounts department

  • generation of an invoice

  • allocation and organisation of shipment for the vehicle drivers

  • delivery of the item and invoicing (the customer need fulfilled).

This is a simple 'high-level' example. In practice each part or sub-process (for example, stock-picking) may require a 'low-level' BPM of its own.

Please note that: Added value for internal customers, notably staff, does not have to be financial, as is commonly imagined by many top business executives. 

Consider MaslowHerzbergMcGregor and Adams and what these concepts teach about motivation and reward, and attrition. Business Process Modelling has enormous potential to address many of the critical demotivators among staff (e.g., poor working relationships, confused structure, failure, etc) and also many strong motivators (e.g., the quality of work itself, recognition, advancement, new responsibilities, etc). 

Think beyond merely adding value for external customers, and optimising efficiency and profit - make a special effort to look for added value for staff too , and then the BPM methodology will work on a much more effective level.

Sequence: Significance in Business Process Modelling

Sequence can have a pivotal influence on business process activities, but sequence is not always pivotal, and indeed certain situations are best analysed from a non-sequential viewpoint. As a general guide, sequence is usually vital for elemental processes, but sequence tends to become less significant - and require more 'cause and effect' flexibility - when elements such as already sequenced processes and resources are brought together in a bigger picture of organisational operations.

This Business Process Modelling summary necessarily concentrates on modelling systems which can be defined using sequence based techniques, since at an elemental level sequence is crucial to quality and related factors of process, quality, monitoring, management, and change, etc. Also, at an elemental level, i.e., when a big activity is broken down into its constituent parts, sequence can have a vital effect upon the effectiveness of each of the individual processes.

However a wider consideration is that many large scale systems commonly contain related processes and resources for which a fixed related sequence is not a specific or crucial or predictable aspect, and for which consequently it is not always possible or easy (or in many cases necessary) to define the exact sequential relationship of processes on a big systemic scale. An example could be the bringing together of separate sub-assemblies, or the buying in of stock, or the recruitment of sub-contract staff. This is especially so where demand is unpredictable. Importantly for these sorts of related process, a bigger priority is to focus on understanding and creating the necessary flexible connections between cause and effect relationships (see and make use of other project management tools for analysing and improving non-sequential elements), rather than try to force a fixed sequence into the analysis or modelling approach.

As with many other tools and methodologies, be mindful of the need for flexibility; use tools and methods as far as they are helpful, but do not blindly force a tool to fit your purposes if it is inappropriate or could distort common sense, or be too constraining, whether for planning, analysis, communications or implementation.

Sequence is always an important consideration, especially when trouble-shooting. Sometimes - at any level - it can be the key to finding dramatic improvements, but sequence is not a mandatory feature, and there is no need to search for and apply sequential conditions within any stage of process modelling or other type of project or change management, if doing so is unhelpful.

Background and History

The quest for standardisation and efficiency in business processes is a long one. Its history is characterised by surges of enthusiasm followed by disillusionment, when the fashionable idea of the moment tends to be dumped for a while before the next generation of process efficiency methodology makes the subject more exciting again. Well, as exciting as business processes can be.

CEOs, consultants and change managers get all fired up about an improvement push (mainly about profits and change and fees). And there lies the central problem: the people who actually put process improvements into practice have never been that excited by the concept. The explicit agenda is about the employer and organisation while the benefit for ordinary employees is not immediately obvious, if at all. For most staff, a new efficiency initiative looks like change, hard work and discomfort, and feels like a threat. Instead workers ideally need to be engaged, involved and included from the start. Like other top-down initiatives and trends over the years, the most common reason for the failure of business process improvement is generally poor internal marketing, poor implementation and poor follow-through. A theoretical model for success devised among senior managers, rarely looks like the same thing further down the organisation.


The origins of BPM principles can be traced back as far as Adam Smith's idea of the division of labour in manufacturing (in 'An Inquiry into the Nature and causes of the Wealth of Nations', 1776). Originally, one person would make one item from beginning to end in a cottage industry situation. When factories became the norm, employing many people who all made items from beginning to end proved time-consuming and inefficient.

Specialisation - 'Division of Labour', 1776

Using the example of a pin maker, Adam Smith argued that breaking up the whole process and creating specialised tasks (or peculiar tasks, as he called them) would simplify and speed up the whole process. 

He showed that if the different stages of the manufacture were completed by different people in a chain of activities, the result would be very much more efficient. The business process was born.

Analysis of Specialised Tasks - 'Time and Motion', early 1900s

Over a century later, Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915), the US engineer and business efficiency theorist, moved with the future. He merged his 'time study' with the 'motion study' work of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth (early US theorists on productivity and workplace science), resulting in new scientific management methods (1911) and the infamous 'time and motion' studies. 

These studies documented and analysed work processes with the aim of reducing the time taken and the number of actions involved in each process, improving both productivity and workers' efficiency. This was enthusiastically embraced by employers and viewed with scepticism and animosity by workers. The term 'Taylorism' still generally refers to a highly scientific and dehumanised approach to efficient operation in business, organisations, economies, etc.

Work Process Flow - 'The One Best Way', early to mid-1900s

Meanwhile, Frank Gilbreth was busy developing the first method for documenting process flow. 

He presented his paper 'Process charts - First Steps to Finding the One Best Way' to the American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME) in 1921. 

By 1947, the ASME Standard for Process Charts was universally adopted, using Gilbreth's original notation.

Disenchantment with the Assembly Line, 1930s

In the first decade of the 20th century, 'time and motion' was a familiar concept, in tune with the modern 'scientific' age. 

However, by 1936, disenchantment had set in, reflected in Charlie Chaplin's film Modern Times. The film satirised mass production and the assembly line, echoing cultural disillusionment with the dreary treadmill of industry during the great depression. 

It is perhaps no coincidence that theories for optimising productivity, and those who profit most from them, are more strongly questioned or criticised when the economic cycle moves into recession.

Workflow, mid-1970s

Research and development of office automation flourished between 1975 and 1985. Specialist workflow technologies and the term 'workflow' were established. 

While BPM has its historical origins in workflow, there are two key differences:

  • Document-based processes performed by people are the focus of workflow systems, while BPM focuses on both people and system processes.

Workflow is concerned with processes within a department while BPM addresses processes spanning the whole organisation. 

The Quality Era, 1980s

In the 1980s, Quality or Total Quality Management (TQM) was the fashionable management and business process theory, championed by Deming and Juran. Used initially in engineering and manufacturing, it is based on the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen or continuous improvement. The aim was to achieve incremental improvements to processes of cost, quality, service and speed. Key aspects of Total Quality Management have now become mainstream and successfully adapted to suit the businesses of the 2000s. Six Sigma and Lean manufacturing are the best-known of these methodologies.

Business Process Re-Engineering (BPR), 1990s

In the early 1990s, Business Process Re-engineering made its appearance and started to gain momentum in the business community. While TQM (at this point facing a decline in popularity) aimed to improve business processes incrementally, BPR demanded radical change to business processes and performance.

In 1993, Michael Hammer (US professor of computer science) and James Champy (a successful corporate CEO, consultant and author) developed the concept in their book 'Re-engineering the Corporation: A Manifesto for Business Revolution' (1993). 

Hammer and Champy stated that the process was revolutionary, fast-track and drastic rather than evolutionary and incremental. It was a huge success and organisations and consultants embraced it with fervour. The re-engineering industry grew and triumphed before it began to wane.

By the end of the 1990s, BPR, as a whole-organisation approach, had fallen dramatically out of favour. It proved to be too long-winded for most organisations, was therefore poorly executed and has consequently been sidelined as a whole-organisation approach.

Critics of this completely 'new broom' methodology would say that it is impossible to start from a clean slate in an already established organisation. 

Other criticisms were that it was dehumanising and mechanistic, focusing on actions rather than people - Taylorism by another name. Crucially, it is associated with the terms 'delayering', 'restructuring' and 'downsizing' of organisations, all lumped together as euphemisms for layoffs. Not what Hammer and Champy had envisaged..

Business Process Modelling, 2000s

The best principles of this approach still survive in BPM, on a less drastic, less brutal and more manageable scale. Lessons have been learnt. Business Process Modelling can and does work, but it must be treated with caution. The key is in the implementation. When it is conducted and implemented sensitively and inclusively, it can be good for the company, and its staff too.

For a workforce drowning in administration, much of it repeated or re-entered into multiple databases, BPM can be a great thing. It can free up time to focus on the 'value added' tasks that are empowering and rewarding: talking and listening to customers, making decisions or doing what they are good at rather than dealing with dull and meaningless duties.

BPM is effective like any other tool can be. In the hands of an idiot BPM can suffocate and hinder an organisation and its people.

The tool doesn't produce the results - what matters is how you use it.


A Business Process Model is central to a host of other related activities, briefly outlined below. Redesigning a process and implementing it is not a speedy enterprise. It can take months and occasionally years, depending on the extent of the process and sub-processes, how many people and systems are involved and how much of it needs to be redesigned.

As the project develops, the business will change and new requirements will surface, so the approach must be flexible and frequently reviewed and re-prioritised. It is advisable to stage the process in a succession of 'builds', each one completed within a business quarter, so that it can be reviewed and measured for return on investment.

It is essential that the people involved in the process, at all levels, are engaged, all the way through. Not only because their input is vital, but also because they need to be fully 'on board.' Senior management buy-in is important to ensure that the resources are available to involve managers and staff members and overcome any resistance to the change. Without this, the redesign cannot work. Focus groups, formal and informal discussions and workshops are useful at each stage and 'build'.

Stages in Development

Developing the models in practice follows the sequence:

  • Identify the process and produce an 'as is' or baseline model.

  • Review, analyse and update the 'as is' process model.

  • Design the 'to be' model.

  • Test and implement the 'to be'.

  • Continuously update and improve the new model.

Creating a Business Process Model

This section provides a guide to creating an initial, 'as is' or baseline model, in other words - the current situation.

Component Parts

An 'as is' or baseline model gives an overall picture of how the process works, now. Any structural, organisational and technological weak points and bottlenecks can then be identified, along with possible improvements at the next stage.

You will need the following information before you start to construct your model:

  • The desired outcome of the process.

  • The start and end points (customer need and customer need fulfilment).

  • The activities that are performed.

  • The order of activities.

  • The people who perform the activities.

  • The documents and forms used and exchanged between functions and from customers and suppliers.

First Draft

The first draft of the model will involve a lot of positioning and repositioning of events and activities, so make sure you use a method that is flexible and easily changed. Use a flipchart, pens and some sticky notes or a whiteboard and a rubber. If you're working with a group of users, everyone needs to be able to see it.

Second Draft

Once you have established an agreed sequence of events, you can create it as a flowchart on generic software or on specialised proprietary software.

At this stage, you will need to check your model with the users by carrying out 'live' observations of the sequence in practice. People in focus groups or meetings invariably either forget their exact actions or say what should be happening rather than what does happen!

Symbols and Notation

The diagrammatic representation of Business Process Modelling is commonly 'notation'.

If you are using generic software, decide on the visual symbols you will use for the different activities.

There is no definitive system for Business Process Modelling notation (note the small 'n'), although efforts persist to standardise one.

The Business Process Modelling Notation (BPMN) system (note the upper-case 'N', since this is like a brand name), is an example of an attempt to establish a standard BPM notation system. The BPMN system is maintained the OMG consortium (Object Management Group) which comprises a few hundred computer-related corporations).

Organisations may develop their own notation systems or use the notation of their chosen proprietary software.

Importantly - whatever notation system/software you use - its symbols must be understood within your own group or organisation.

The example below uses four symbols that are widely understood:

IT-based activity - documentation, sending or requesting information, for example)

Decision point or Gateway - where a decision has to be made and the flow can go more than one way.

business process modelling diagram symbol business process modelling diagram symbol

Action - to be carried out by a person in the organisation.


Event - an action or IT-based activity from an external source or carried out by the customer.

business process modelling diagram symbol business process modelling diagram symbol

This example of a Business Process Model diagram is based on an online order-through-to-delivery process.

It's a flowchart, which makes it very easy to see the process and the key elements within it.

Here is a better quality picture of the same Business Process Model diagram example in PDF format.

Note that while most Business Process Modelling diagrams necessarily include a strong sequencing dimension, there are circumstances where sequence is not so crucial and more of a 'mapping' perspective is appropriate. 

Refer to the note about sequence, and see other project management tools for examples of analysis methods which enable non-sequential activity 'mapping'.

business process model example diagram

BPM Glossary

Different organisations refer to the elements related to Business Process Modelling in different ways. This is complicated by the fact that acronyms can stand for more than one thing, and are often used interchangeably. 

For example, BPR stands for Business Process Re-engineering as well as Business Process Redesign. BPM itself stands for Business Process Modelling/Modeling, Business Process Model, and Business Process Management. In the healthcare sector incidentally BPM would more readily be interpreted to mean Beats Per Minute, relating to pulse rate, which emphasises the need to explain acronyms when you use them.

Organisations develop their own ways of referring to the different elements. They know what they mean, but someone from another organisation could become very confused! This glossary may help anyone feeling lost.

Broadly the term 'business' below is interchangeable with 'organisation'. Business Process Modelling is not only carried out in conventional businesses; the methodology is increasingly applicable to all sorts of other organisations, for example government agencies and departments, charities, mutuals and cooperatives, etc. 

'As is' and 'To be' models - The common two perspectives of a modelling exercise - Where are we now?, and Where do we want to be? -

  • The 'as is' or baseline model is an accurate depiction of what actually happens now. Once the model is developed, it is used to analyse and improve the process.

  • The 'to be' model is a proposed diagram of how the future process could look, incorporating improvements. This is used to demonstrate, model and test the new process and then to implement it.

Brainstorming - Not usually part of BPM technical language, but actually a very useful initial stage in mapping or attempting to represent/understand/agree/scope a BPM project given little or no information to begin with. Also a useful way to achieve essential involvement, input, support, etc., from people affected by the modelling exercise. See Brainstorming.

Business Architecture - A vague and widely used term basically referring to the structure of a business.

Business Model - A vague term used to refer to how a business aims to operate and make money in a given market. This term is not directly related to Business Process Modelling. A detailed business model might typically contain descriptions of basic business processes implied or necessary for the the model to operate, but a business model is mainly concerned with strategy and external market relationships, rather than the internal processes which feature in BPM.

Business Process - A structured series of work activities, IT interventions and events that generate one complete service or product for an organisation's customers.

Business Process Model - A representation - usually computer-generated and diagrammatic, but can be a low-tech whiteboard or flipchart and marker pens and sticky notes - of a process within a business. Two models are usually produced: an 'as is' and a 'to be'. The process(es) featured in a Business Process Model can be very simple or highly complex, and will typically involve different departments working (hopefully) together while the provision or creation of a product or service flows through different stages and decision-points in an organisation on its way to the customer. A Business Process Model for a large process can be comprised of other smaller modelled processes which contribute to the whole. In theory an entire huge business can be modelled, although for the modelling to be useful and meaningful to people it is normally built in sections, each representing a self-contained process alongside potentially scores, hundreds or even thousands of others, all inter-relating, hopefully smoothly, efficiently and enjoyably. (The 'enjoyable' part is not a technical necessity, but is actually important for any model to translate from theory into sustainable practice.)

Business Process Modelling/Business Process Modeling - The term which refers to the methodology and techniques of producing a Business Process Model, or several Business Process Models, in the course of business improvement/development or quality management or change management, etc. (Modelling is UK-English; Modeling is US-English.)

Business Process Change Cycle - An overall term for the life cycle of business processes, including the external environment in which the organisation operates. This external environment drives change in the business processes and the organisation responds to it by adjusting its strategy and goals. As the external environment keeps changing, the cycle also changes, prompting continuous change and improvement to business processes.

Business Reference Model - A (usually computerised and diagrammatic) key to understanding and using a Business Architecture Model. It presents certain core structural elements as fixed, thereby encouraging and enabling others using or developing the model to understand and adhere to essential aspects of structural policy and foundation. In this respect a Business Reference model may be relevant to Business Process Modelling

BPR - Business Process Re-engineering (also known as BPI - Business Process Innovation) - A radical approach to restructuring an organisation in every area, starting with what the organisation is trying to achieve, rethinking its core processes and redesigning every one. It is a way of reassessing and restructuring the whole organisation, all at once, starting from scratch.

BPI - Business Process Improvement - This refers to improving existing processes, continuously and incrementally, reducing waste and driving efficiency. Six Sigma is currently one of the most popular of many BPI approaches in use today.

BPM - Business Process Management - Used in two different ways by two different groups within the business processing community:

  • Firstly, it is used by the people and process management group to describe the overall management of business process improvement, aligning processes with an organisation's strategic goals: designing, implementing and measuring them and educating managers to use them effectively.

  • Secondly, it is used by IT people to describe the systems, software and applications that provide the process framework.

BPM - Business Process Mapping - Often used interchangeably with Business Process Modelling, Business Process Mapping is also used to mean documenting all the processes in the business, showing the relationships between them. This provides a comprehensive visual overview of the processes in an organisation.

BPM Business Process Model/Business Process Modelling - See Business Process Model/Modelling above.

BPMN - Business Process Modelling Notation - A 'branded' Business Process Modelling notation system of the OMG Consortium, representing several hundred primarily US computer-related corporations. (UK-English 'Modelling'.)

BPR - Business Process Redesign - Rethinking, redesigning and implementing one complete process using Business Process Modelling tools.

Enterprise Architecture - Basically the same as Business Architecture. Enterprise is a relatively modern term for a business organisation or company than 'business', probably because business has quite specific associations with profit and shareholders, whereas the word enterprise can more loosely encompass all sorts of business-like activities which might be constituted according to mutual or cooperative rather than traditional capitalistic aims. Enterprise is also a popular way to refer to business development and entrepreneurial creativity. The relevance of all this to BPM is merely the use of the word enterprise in BPM terminology, where previously the word 'business' would have been used.

Gateway - A stage in a Business Process Model diagram or notation at which decision or choice is made because more than one main option or outcome exists.

Notation - The technical term for a Business Process Model diagram or computer-generated map or flowchart.

OBASHI - A methodology, and related aspect of BPM, for mapping and developing how IT systems relate to organisational operations (OBASHI stands for Ownership, Business Processes, Applications, Systems, Hardware, and Infrastructure).

UML - Unified Modeling Language - a visual representation/design system for software-led modelling, overseen by the OMG Consortium (as with BPMN).

What if? (scenario) - A popular term given to discussion or modelling of possible shapes, structures, resourcing and any other options that are available to people considering change in businesses and organisations. The 'What if?' principle extends far beyond Business Processes, but is a useful technique in team-working and attempting to make BPM methods more consultative and involving. This is especially important given that the nature of BPM (the computer systems, terminology, highly detailed aspects) often tend to position the methods as a lone job away from people and groups affected by its implications and opportunities. BPM works best when people are involved - considering questions like 'What if?' - and often fails when it guarded and developed secretively by technocrat minority.

Value-added/Added-value - The principle of increasing the usefulness, attractiveness and benefits of a product or service, which in the context of BPM, ideally improves progressively with each modelling exercise. Added-value is commonly represented as benefiting customers and shareholders (via reduced costs, and increased efficiencies and profits) but should also benefit staff/employees too.

Zachman Framework - In this list mainly because an interesting listing under the letter Z is irresistible. This is a computerised diagrammatic notation system for representing an enterprise (or business or other organisation) - notably its 'enterprise architecture'. It was devised by John Zachman, a US ex-naval officer computer scientist, while working for IBM in the 1980s.


Deming, W.E. (1982), Out of the Crisis, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Gilbreth, Frank and Lillian (1924), The Quest of the One Best Way, Purdue University Frank and Lillian Gilbreth Papers.

Hammer, Michael and Champy, James (1993), Reengineering the Corporation: A Manifesto for Business Revolution, Harper Business.

Juran, J.M. (1988), Juran on Planning for Quality, Free Press, New York, NY.

Smith, Howard and Fingar, Peter (2003) Business Process Management, The Third Wave, MK Press.

Taylor, F.W. (1911) The Principles of Scientific Management. Harper & Brothers. New York and London.

With thanks to Melanie Allen, and to Tony Markos for raising the matter of sequence in the practical application of business process modelling.

See Also