Process & Operations

Business Process Modelling: A Comprehensive Handbook 

looking to maximise the efficiency of your business operations and drive greater productivity?

One powerful approach to achieving this goal is through the strategic use of business process modelling. By implementing effective business process modelling techniques, organisations can gain valuable insights into their operational workflows, identify areas for improvement, and streamline processes for optimal efficiency.

This article will provide you with a comprehensive handbook for Business Process Modelling. 

Business Process Modelling

What is business process modelling?

Business Process Modelling (BPM) is a methodical strategy used within Business Process Management to depict and examine business processes. It involves visually illustrating the activities, steps, and interactions inherent in a business process. BPM offers a systematic framework for comprehending, evaluating, and enhancing the workflow within an organisation.

 This tool is used to map two states for every process:

  1. Current State (As-is): In the as-is state, the current process is depicted as it exists, without any changes.
  2. Future State (To-be): To-be is the ideal state of a process after the suggested improvement changes are completed.
Why model business processes?

When it comes to describing what your organisation does, one could probably sum it up in a couple of sentences. However, the reality is that it can only achieve its purpose by teams working together to complete a series of tasks in succession in order to produce a final outcome/result.

The top reasons organisations create process models are for continuous improvement, unlocking process efficiency, and driving productivity. However, there are additional motivations prompting process modelling.

1) Global BPM Trends and Insights
Benefits of Process Modelling

Business process modelling stands as a pivotal tool for organisations, offering a multitude of benefits that extend across various facets of operations:

  • Alignment of Strategy & Business Objectives: Process modelling ensures that strategies align with company goals and objectives.

  • Clarity and Understanding: It provides a visual representation of complex business processes, making them easier to understand for stakeholders at all levels.

  • Identification of Inefficiencies: By mapping out processes, organisations can identify inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and areas for improvement, leading to increased efficiency and productivity.

  • Standardisation and Consistency: Process modelling promotes standardisation by documenting best practices and defining standardised procedures, ensuring consistency in how work is performed across the organisation.

  • Improved Communication and Collaboration: Process models serve as a common visual language that facilitates communication and collaboration among stakeholders, leading to better alignment and coordination.

  • Strategic Decision-Making: Process modelling provides insights into how processes are structured and how they impact organisational performance, enabling better decision-making and resource allocation.

  • Facilitation of Change Management: Process models aid in managing organisational change by providing a clear understanding of current processes and highlighting areas for improvement, helping organisations adapt to new strategies and technologies.

  • Efficient Resource Allocation: By understanding the resource requirements of each process, organisations can allocate resources more effectively, ensuring that resources are utilised optimally to meet organisational goals.

  • Enhanced Customer Satisfaction: Optimised processes result in improved customer experiences, leading to higher satisfaction and retention rates.

  • Continuous Improvement: Business process modelling fosters a culture of continuous improvement by providing a structured approach to identifying and implementing process enhancements over time.
  • Increase market competitiveness: Embracing process modelling enables organisations to stay innovative and resilient in a dynamic business landscape.

Modelling Techniques

There are many different techniques to model business processes, choosing the right technique is crucial because it ensures that the modelling effort aligns with the organisation’s specific needs, goals, and context.

The technique selected should be capable of effectively capturing the intricacies of the processes being modelled while also being suitable for the organisation’s size, complexity, and level of detail required. Additionally, the chosen technique should facilitate collaboration, communication, and integration with existing systems, as well as compliance with regulatory standards.

Making an informed choice in selecting a modelling technique ensures that the modelling effort is efficient, effective, and ultimately contributes to improving processes and achieving business objectives. Here are some examples of commonly used business process modelling techniques:


Flowcharts are graphical representations of processes using symbols to represent different activities, decisions, and information flows. They provide a visual overview of the sequential steps in a process.

Data Flow Diagram (DFD)

DFDs illustrate the flow of data within a system or process. They show how data moves through various processes, stores, and external entities, helping to identify data sources, transformations, and destinations.

IPO Model

The Input-Process-Output (IPO) technique is a practical tool used to categorise the inputs and outputs of a given process. It comprises three primary elements:

  • Inputs: These encompass the information, data, or materials introduced into the process.
  • Outputs: These denote the final outcomes or results achieved upon the completion of a specific business process.
  • Process: This refers to the specific business activity being enhanced or streamlined.

SIPOC diagrams are a business process modelling framework where key stakeholders identify the most crucial elements of process improvement across the following categories:

  • Suppliers
  • Inputs
  • Process
  • Outputs
  • Customers
Unified Modelling Language (UML)

UML is a standardised modelling language used in software engineering to visualise, design, and document systems. It includes activity diagrams, which can be used to model business processes.

Value Stream Mapping (VSM)

VSM is a lean management technique used to visualise and analyse the flow of materials and information through a value stream. It helps identify waste and opportunities for improvement in processes.

Technique Selection

The choice of business process modelling technique depends on varying factors like process complexity, organisation size, level of detail required, existing systems integration, regulatory requirements, and stakeholder preferences.

Large enterprises with extensive cross-functional processes may benefit from sophisticated modelling techniques that can handle the complexity of their operations, while BPM for smaller user groups tends to be simpler and more straightforward, with fewer activities, dependencies, and decision points involved. Considering these factors ensures the selected technique aligns with the organisation’s goals and context.

Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN)

Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) is a standardised graphical notation used for modelling business processes. It provides a common language for business analysts, process designers, and stakeholders to understand, analyse, and communicate complex processes in a clear and consistent manner.

BPMN uses a set of symbols and conventions to represent various elements of a business process, including activities, events, gateways, and flows of information or data. It is widely adopted across industries and is supported by various modelling tools and software platforms, making it a valuable tool for business process management and optimisation.

BPMN Element Categories

There are four primary elements of BPMN, each element serves a specific purpose in representing different aspects of the process, enabling clear and structured communication of process flows. They are designed to provide a comprehensive and standardised way to model business processes.

Incorporating these elements, BPMN ensures that process models are understandable, consistent, and meaningful across various stakeholders and organisations. Having these standardised elements facilitates interoperability between different BPMN-compliant tools and software platforms, promoting collaboration and consistency in process modelling practices.

Mastering Business Process Modelling: A Comprehensive Step-by-Step Guide

1. Understand the Purpose: 

Clearly define the objectives of your business process modelling initiative. Determine what you want to achieve, such as improving efficiency, reducing costs, or enhancing customer satisfaction.

2. Identify Processes: 

Identify the key business processes within your organisation that you want to model.

3. Gather Information: 

Work with stakeholders from different departments to gather information about the processes you’re modelling. This could involve interviews, surveys, document analysis, and observation.

4. Define Scope

Clearly define the scope of each process you’re modelling. Determine the inputs, outputs, activities, resources, and stakeholders involved in each

5. Choose a Modelling Technique: 

Select a modelling technique to visually represent your process model. Choose a technique that best suits your organisations needs and complexity.

6. Choose a Modelling Notation

Select a modelling notation or language to represent your business processes. Choose a notation that best suits your needs and the complexity of your processes. Industry-leading notation BPMN2.0 is recommended.

7. Create Current State Process Maps

Use your chosen notation to create process maps or diagrams that visually represent each business process. Clearly define the sequence of activities, decision points, and dependencies within each process.

8. Document Details

Document key details about each process, such as process objectives, roles and responsibilities, performance metrics, and system dependencies.

9. Validate and Review

Review your process models with stakeholders to ensure accuracy and completeness. Validate the models against real-world scenarios and make revisions as needed.

10. Identify Improvements: 

Analyse your process models to identify inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and opportunities for improvement. Use techniques such as process value stream mapping and root cause analysis to optimise your processes.


For more information on how to successfully implement a business improvement initiative, refer to our insights page.

  • Keep it simple but with enough detail to be understood.
  • Utilise BPM software for linkage to process architecture.
  • Adopt a standardised process naming convention.
  • Establish process model conventions & governance.
  • Assign process ownership.
BPMN 2.0 Cheat Sheet

The BPMN specification defines the notation and semantics for defining business processes. The following depicts the most commonly used symbols and semantics.

Final Thoughts

Leveraging business process modelling as a strategic tool can significantly enhance organisational efficiency and effectiveness. By employing effective modelling techniques and notions, organisations can gain invaluable insights into their operational workflows, pinpoint areas ripe for improvement, and optimise processes to achieve optimal efficiency.