Historically, diagrammatic representations of processes have been widely used to effectively communicate complex and interrelated ideas and concepts (Albarn & Smith, 1977; Elder, 1992). Business processes are no exception. As businesses (and consequently business processes) became more complex, the diagram, with its ability to combine “verbal, numerical and visual functions with analytic and associative processes of thought” (Albarn & Smith), became an essential tool in the array of instruments used by business analysts and modelers (Clemen & Reilly, 2001; Davis, 2001; Elder; Howard & Matheson, 1989; Keller & Teufel, 1998; Kirkwood, 1998/2001; Klaus, Rosemann, & Gable, 2000; Kros, 2001; Nuttgens, Field, & Zimmerman, 1998; Scheer, 1999, 2000). In this article, we review a unified approach to the use of diagrams for business process and decision modeling in the context of decision support. Modeling features that can be regarded as relative weaknesses for one class of diagrams (e.g., decision modeling diagrams) are, in fact, the strong points for the other suggested class (e.g., process modeling diagrams). It is therefore natural to expect that a suitable combination of process and decision modeling approaches would increase the power of the resulting diagram as an effective tool for business analysis and modeling.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Business Process: It is a set of logically related tasks performed to achieve a defined business outcome (defined by Powell et al. 2001)
Causal Loop Diagram (CLD): A CLD is diagrammatic tool used to describe the causal relationship between key quantities and to identify feedback mechanisms.
Influence Diagram (ID): The ID is diagrammatic tool used to describe a decision analysis tool focused on structuring complex decision problems by linking decisions, uncertain events, decision objectives, and calculation nodes.
Event-Driven Process Chain (EPC): EPC is a graphical tool that is widely used to model the function flow of the business process as a sequence of events and functions with the events being function triggers and results.
Triangulation Paradigm: This is a concept of integration of the qualitative and quantitative paradigms to compensate weaknesses of one method with the strengths of another to achieve a holistic solution (defined by Jick 1979).
Decision: Decision typically involves a choice from possible actions or alternatives to satisfy one or several given objectives.
Decision Tree Diagram (DTD): DTD is a diagrammatic tool used to describe a decision and the consequences of choosing a particular action.