Companies need to keep on developing their business processes to improve their operational excellence, reduce costs, and serve their customers better. Efficient business processes use as few resources (time, money, raw materials, and labour) as possible while providing the best possible output. Process development is closely related to Business Capability Development in Enterprise Architecture.
Processes can be developed with an internal focus aimed to remove unnecessary work and waste of resources, and because of digitalization, the focus should be more and more on the external ecosystem. Developing and analysing business processes from the customer’s perspective, also known as Customer Journey Mapping, supports the creation of new customer offerings and improvement of customer satisfaction.
Business process development is continuous activity and requires a strong process culture in the company. This process culture is supported by the company’s process development principles. It is necessary to set goals and nominate owners for the main processes. The process owner is responsible for process evaluation and continuous improvement. The business analyst bridges the gap between IT and business stakeholders by translating business process requirements into technical specifications.
The classic approach to Business Process Modelling is to map the current and target states. The understanding of the gaps between these states supports organizational change management and provides requirements for information system development.
A modern approach is based on planning value adding activities that enable the agility, and as a consequence, saves time and reduces complexity. With such an approach, the target state is described as the (new) business capability that is required to support the value adding activities. The current state can be depicted by identifying the obsolete and wasteful activities we want to get rid of or automate.
Figure 2.7.1 Process Definition Levels and Purpose
Business processes can be modelled on different abstractions levels. The first and second levels are more concerned about creating the overall framework and capturing the main process steps and required business capabilities. Then, on the third level, you will see more formal modelling of activities per roles with their information flows.
When documenting business processes, it is important to consider the target audience and purpose. It is good practice to separate presentation and training materials from the detailed solution architecture notations required for information systems development.
User Stories and Customer Journeys, typical to agile development and digitalization, cry out for alternative ways to map processes and for capturing and communicating essential requirements better.
Business process modelling is typically facilitated by organizing workshops with the key stakeholders. The facilitator ensures that the processes get defined and documented in the right format. The process owner’s responsibility is to approve the process design sign-off. Facilitation tools that enable time and place independent collaboration can significantly speed up the development work, and at the same time, save costs.