Tools for Business Process Modeling (BPM)

Tools for Business Process Modeling (BPM)

Let’s be clear about what Business Process Modeling (BPM) is. BPM is the activity of defining the business processes of a company. BPM is typically used for analyzing current processes and improving them as required.

Quite often Business Processing Modeling is linked with Business Process Reengineering and Process Improvement activities. At the heart of BPM is a business process or a series of related structured activities and tasks that produce a work product or service.

Three main types of business processes include:

  1. management,
  2. operational, and
  3. support.

The best BPM tools use a combination of diagrams such as flow charts, block diagrams, Gantt and Pert charts, as well as other descriptive tools and documentation techniques. Several vendors offer BPM products that include fully integrated modeling techniques. One such product is the Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN), which is a graphical representation for specifying business processes.

Two tools that are effective yet simple to use are:

  1. Integrated Definition (IDEF) — best used for its graphical modeling language standards, and
  2. Information Mapping — a systematic approach for writing and organizing information more effectively.

IDEF was established in the early 70’s by the U.S. Air Force as it sought to increase manufacturing productivity through a systematic computer aided approach. This later led to the development of IDEF0 which is more widely used for a variety of systems. IDEF0 provides a hierarchical series of diagrams, text and glossary that are cross referenced to each other.

It also provides the accompany syntax that specifies how the functions are to be represented. Information Mapping ™ dates back to 1965 when psychologist Robert E. Horn at Columbia University did research on how readers handle large amounts of complex data. His research resulted in a standard approach for organizing and communicating information. Information Mapping ™ technique enables authors to break complex topics into its most basic elements and present them optimally for its readers. For further information refer to “Information Mapping ”  check out this research note by Namahn.

The two above techniques are very simple and effective tools that can be used for effective modeling. This leads to a very structured approach that can be easily instituted in your BPM projects.

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