Business Process Modeling

Business Process Modeling

Donald R. Chand (Bentley University, USA) and Alina M. Chircu (Bentley University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0249-6.ch003

Abstract

This chapter presents a variety of business process modeling notations that range from programming logic flowcharts to the new standard, BPMN (Business Process Modeling Notation), as put forth by the Business Process Management Initiative (BPMI) (http://www.bpmi.org). Specifically, it discusses (1) the use of unstructured programming flowcharts in modeling business processes and their adaptation in process flow diagramming notation, (2) the UML activity diagram, and (3) BPMN, a comprehensive notation for documenting and modeling complex business processes. Using simple examples, this chapter brings out the inherent complexity of modeling business processes and the need for modeling tools that synchronize and align the mental models of business users, process analyst and information technology (IT) systems developers in order to correctly represent the intended process.
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Introduction

Increasingly organizations are being viewed as a web of interrelated business processes that are designed to achieve certain organizational goals. This has generated a need to capture, represent, analyze, improve and manage business processes. Business Process Management (BPM), an evolving new discipline, is management approach of executing firm’s strategy through managed business processes. The management of business processes involves documenting, analyzing, redesigning, evaluating, implementing and monitoring processes (Antonucci et al. 2009). Although, within BPM, process modeling approaches that graphically document business processes are loosely called business process modeling, in the information technology (IT) world business process modeling is associated with graphic representation of business processes with sufficient precision so that the resulting process model can be executed by business process management software (BPMS). Embedded within BPMS is often a simulation module that allows process implementers to simulate and evaluate the performance of the new process. Because business process modeling is rooted in IT systems modeling notations that evolved with advances in business process improvements approaches, this chapter presents a variety of modeling notations that process improvement practitioners use for modeling business processes. Specifically, this chapter discusses (1) the use of unstructured programming flowcharts in modeling business processes and their adaptation in process flow diagramming notation, (2) the UML activity diagram, and (3) BPMN, a comprehensive notation for documenting and modeling complex business processes. Our reasons for selecting these notations are briefly discussed next.

Because the early process modeling practitioners viewed processes as a network of activities, they borrowed the activity, decision and directed arrow symbols, or primitives, from programming flowcharts (Chapin, 1970) to model and document business processes. This is the reason we have included a discussion of flowchart as a business process modeling tool. These programming flowchart symbols were later refined when process investigation and improvement became an integral part of manufacturing processes in supply chain management. As a result recurring manufacturing activities such as inspection, storage and delay were assigned unique graphical symbols (Laguna & Marklund, 2004). These process practitioners also observed that one could enhance both process design and process understandability by structuring the process model into swim lanes that depicted where and by who the activities are being performed (Rummler & Brache, 1995). From our perspective process flow notation and the invention of swim lanes is the foundation on which modern process modeling notations are based on.

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