BPMN process mapping - what is it and why should you use it?

Looking at the changes taking place in the modern business world, one can see a gradual decline in the popularity of traditional, functional and rigidly structured enterprise organizations with extensive hierarchies, in which activities are geared toward the performance of individual functions, such as marketing, sales or finance. They are losing their position in favor of forms of organization with a horizontal, horizontal structure in which a process approach dominates. The activities of such companies are not focused on the execution of separate functions, but on managing processes aimed at maximizing customer satisfaction.

Processes in modern organizations are often very extensive and complex. To make the relationships between them easier to understand, both for members of the organization and outsiders, process mapping is used, that is, individual tasks are extracted and then represented graphically. There are several methods used to model business processes, but the most popular one, which is now an unwritten standard, is BPMN (from Business Process Model and Notation).

What is BPMN process mapping?

BPMN is a unified notation for describing business processes and the relationships connecting them. One of its main goals is to provide a set of graphical elements with which to create clear flowcharts for visually modeling the course of business processes. What makes this notation so valued and so widely used?

The key features of BPMN, which determine its success, are its unambiguity and versatility. This notation allows the creation of both simple and very complex flow diagrams. Thanks to its standard graphical form, it can be understood by users from different organizations, working in different positions - from managers to business analysts to programmers. BPMN is also compatible with dozens of process modeling and automation programs, such as MS Visio, iGrafx, ARIS and TIBCO Business Studio, among others.

Elements of BPMN notation

The graphical elements used in BPMN notation can be divided into four categories. The first are objects related to the flow of the process - activities, or tasks to be performed by a person or system; events, marking the beginning, middle and end of the process; and gates, also called decision objects, which describe the path of the sequence flow in the process. The second are linking elements, which are used to bind the process objects together and show the process flow. The third category is objects that group other elements. They are variously called tanks or pools. Each pool is further divided into tracks, which show the responsibilities and location of events that occur in it. The fourth group is expanding elements, such as various types of annotations.

Processes highlighted in BPMN notation

The BPMN notation distinguishes several types of processes. The first is private processes, also referred to by the term "workflow." These are internal activities, specific to a particular organization. These processes should be represented within a single pool. The only elements that can cross boundaries are messages, used to exchange information between different private processes. A good example of such a process is the receipt of correspondence in a company - its elements are consecutive activities, such as the receipt of a message in a box, the preparation of a response and the sending of a return message.

Another type is public processes. These show the interactions that occur between a private process and participants outside of it. The purpose of this model is to make limited information available to a process. An example would be the flow of messages between two separate pools - one that deals with receiving messages in a certain company's Customer Service Department and another that introduces a customer to the company.
The next model, collaboration, presents two or more pools containing processes and the interactions that occur between them. Using the earlier example, the event of sending a message in the private process "Customer" is combined with the event of receiving a message in the process "Company Customer Service."

The last model, choreography, describes the interactions that occur between two or more participants in the process. But importantly, it does not describe the activities that the individual participants perform.

How to plan a process using BPMN?

Wanting to graphically represent a process flow using BPMN notation, the first step is to identify the processes. For this purpose, you can use the top-down method, in which the overall activity of the organization is determined and individual elements are specified on the basis of it, or the more difficult but more precise bottom-up method, in which the course of processes is formulated, based on the analysis of activities performed in the organization.

The next step is to divide processes into main and auxiliary processes. Then, out of all the processes, you have to distinguish those that are crucial for achieving specific business goals. Finally, a detailed process map is created that shows all the activities that make up the process.
A well-prepared BPMN process map allows you to present even the most complicated and complex business processes in a clear and easy-to-understand way.

It is worth using this method to streamline the flow of information in the company and automate the execution of tasks, thus improving the efficiency of the company's operations.

If you need advice on implementing innovations make an appointment with free consultation, and together we will determine how we can help your business.

Krzysztof Koryl

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