Business Process Modeling

Business Process and Business Process Modeling

A business process is considered a group of inter-related activities through which a specific product or service can be produced to achieve one or more objectives of a business. In other words, the business process is specifically meant to meet a particular goal of the business and includes different activities and techniques that are considered a part of the BPM (Business Process Management) discipline.

A business process includes the following aspects:

  • Various related tasks are part of the process.
  • People, who are involved in the process, get benefit from it.
  • The main objective of the process is to help people achieve goals.
  • A goal is achieved by producing goods or services.
  • Different resources are required in producing goods or services under the business process. These resources may include manpower, financial resources, material, natural resources, etc.

The guide that helps in the identification of any gaps in the business processing is considered modeling. Modeling is a type of simulation in which a process is formed through a sequence of related steps. The process is further examined, reviewed, performed again, and again in order to achieve a goal of enhancing the performance of a business. Also, there is a tendency that processes may deviate due to the business dynamics and changes in the surrounding environment. Models help in stabilizing responses so that the processes can be kept on track.

One of the important components of business process management is the “Business process model”. Business process modeling is considered a group of activities in order to optimize the process of business.

Business process modeling includes representing different workflows graphically that are used in the business so that the clear position of the current setup or procedure can be obtained. This helps in finding new methods to improve the current processes.

So, business process modeling is a practice through which different business processes are represented visually. These models can be visualized through flow charts or diagrams that show all necessary steps in a process and the way they are inter-related. Generally, it includes actions, links, and events in the sequence of activities of a process i.e. from starting to end.

Importance of Business Process Modeling

 Below are the benefits that can be gained through business process modeling:

Alignment of Operations and Business Strategy

To implement a new business model or a new business strategy, changes in various operations and in the way employees do their work are required. Business process modeling facilitates this by ensuring consistency in business processes and aligning these processes towards achieving the overall organizational strategy and objectives.

Improvement in Process Communication

Business process modeling helps organizations in proper documentation of their processes. It also ensures that these processes are communicated clearly by providing a unified language and method, guidance, and information of processes.

Enhance Consistency and Control

Through business process modeling, it is possible to have business processes that are well-designed and rules can be made that are consistent in the form of applying them, in the same way, all the time.

Enhances Operational Efficiency

Business process modeling includes steps such as process simulation and analysis, which help in gaining insights into process flows. It also supports in determining the scope of any further optimization, improvement in the process cycle time, etc.

Helps in Gaining Competitive Advantage

The above benefits of BPM, lead to gain a competitive advantage as BPM helps in aligning operations with business strategy. This results in better control over processes, smooth running of operations, well-qualified and trained staff, etc.

Business Process Modeling

BPM can be divided into two main categories i.e.

Logical process modeling

Physical process modeling

Logical Process Modeling

This includes representing all activities of a business process in a detailed way by putting them together. In other words, it represents a business process in such a way that all the related activities of the process from collecting the data to meeting the desired result can be put together in detail. Different types of activities of logical process modeling are mentioned in the below diagram:

The data that is collected at the initial stage is required to be arranged in a logical way so that it is possible to make links between different nodes in order to achieve a smooth workflow.

Few of the above activities may have an occurrence in sequence whereas; a few of them may work parallel. Circular paths may also be there such as re-work loops. In the absence of the connection between process activities, complexities arise.

Logical modeling formats are as under:

  • Flow charts that include different relationships and activities
  • Descriptions of the process along with task sequences
  • Flow diagrams
  • Diagrams of functional dependency
  • Hierarchies of function

A diagram is there to represent each business activity through logical process modeling.

Physical Process Modeling

This is related to the actual designing of the database that meets the business requirement. This model specifies different aspects of the business process such as connectivity, rules, roles, and data. Physical process modeling converts the logical model into a model that is relational. In this, tables indicate objects and are made based on attributes and entities. For a business, a database is defined.

All relevant information is gathered at a common place for making specific database software. This shows that objects depend on database software. The output is a diagram of a server model that shows connections or relations with a database. Following aspects are described by the model:

  • Tasks related to the work that needs to be done during the business process
  • The sequence through which tasks will be executed
  • Data required as a starting point for executing the process
  • Data needed at the initial and finishing stage of each work task
  • Rules required for determining routing via the process
  • Techniques of exception handling
  • Minimum one outcome of the business
  • Each process participant’s roles and permissions

Data-Driven Approach to Process Definition

This approach is used to analyze the life cycle of each major type of data entity. So, it is mostly used in the analysis efforts that are object-oriented and rational. The data-driven approach describes a process required in each phase. It ensures the meaningful relationships between the processes and associated data. In this approach, in order to start the business process modeling and analysis, it is mandatory to complete the logical data modeling process.

Below aspects are there while developing a logical process model:

  • Process purpose: The analyst is able to find out a step that is not related to the context of the process by writing and referring to the purpose on a frequent basis.
  • Process participants: This may include people or groups of people, electronic applications.
  • The sequence of executing the steps of the process: There must be a sequence in the process model.
  • Expected data as a part of the process: Initial expected data set should be there. This step includes decisions related to choosing the appropriate subset of the data in all tasks of the process.
  • Decisions to be made at process execution stage: This consists of decisions related to choosing the path of the process.
  • Data disposition at the final stage: These include making decisions related to retaining the data or delete it, storing the data, appropriate place to store the data, the requirement of data access for process-related reports in the future, etc.

Other elements may be there in the business processes that are required to be part of the model.

Making the Process Model Diagram

After identifying and defining processes, functions, sequential activities, or processes, the next step is to build a set of diagrams and presenting the business processes that are being considered. For this, process modeling software is utilized by the analyst.

Below points are considered while constructing diagrams:

Starting point: This is related to the initial stage of the process. There is a possibility of various beginnings. Moreover, different activities may start together and run parallel.

Tasks at the time of executing the process: This includes tasks that are carried out during the execution stage of the process and also, their dependencies and sequence.

Nodes in the Path: This indicates those activities that are supposed to be finished before initiating the next activities.

Points for decision: These points facilitate making decisions for either selecting the path or to continue the process or not.

More points: Once the process ends, there is a possibility of having one or more than one point.

Logical v/s Physical Database Modeling

Logical Data Modeling

Through this data model, the structure of data elements can be defined and also, relationships among them can be established. Logical data modeling provides a foundation on which physical data modeling is based. There is no need to define any primary or secondary key in this model. Only, verification and adjustment of connector details are required that were established previously for relationships.

Using logical database modeling, the compilation of business requirements can be done, and also, these requirements can be represented as a model. This model is mainly related to collecting business needs instead of database design. It gathers information related to business entities, business processes, organizational units, etc. After the compilation of the information, different reports are made and diagrams are constructed including below:

  • Entity Relationship Diagram (ERD): This is the relationship between different types of data and indicates the different types of data needed for developing a database.
  • Diagram of Business Process: This includes different activities of people of a business. Through this diagram, data movement within the company can be determined that helps in designing the application interface.
  • Documentation of feedback by users.

Characteristics of Logical Data Modeling

Below are the basic characteristics of the model:

  • It specified the data requirements for one project.
  • Independent designing and development of the model are possible from the database management system (DBMS).
  • Data attributes will include types of data with exact length.

Physical Data Modeling

This data model explains the implementation of a data model that is specific to a database.  The physical data model also facilitates visualizing the structure of the database and for this, it replicates database column keys, triggers, constraints, and other features of RDBMS (Relational Database Management System).

Below are the different characteristics of physical data modeling:

  • It includes relationships among tables and the model is designed for a particular version of the database management system, data storage, technology.
  • The columns included in the model should contain exact lengths that are assigned, data types, default values, etc.
  • Physical database modeling generally works on the designing part of the actual database that is based on the requirements collected at the time of logical database modeling. It further converts the collected information into business models and relational models.
  • In this modeling, the level on which objects are defined; is termed as scheme level. A scheme is known as a group of inter-related objects in a database. Tables and columns are constructed based on the information gathered from logical modeling.  To provide constraints, different keys such as unique keys, primary and secondary keys are defined. It also facilitates data summarization and alternative perspectives to the users after the creation of the tables.
  • This is a software-specific model and includes a server model diagram, documentation of feedback from users, and documentation related to the database design.

The below table depicts the main differences between logical database modeling and physical database modeling:

                                         Logical vs Physical Database Modeling

Based on the above differences, we can conclude below key differences in both database modeling:

  • Purpose or Objective: The main purpose of logical database modeling is to collect information regarding the needs of businesses and it doesn’t include the database designing part, whereas; the actual database designing is covered in physical database modeling.
  • Adaptability: Constraints and indexing are not included in logical database modeling. Also, this model is designed for an application that can be useful in different software. On the other hand, physical database modeling consists of constraints and indexing. Unlike logical database modeling; this modeling is meant for specific software and hardware.
  • Components: The various components of logical database modeling are business process diagrams, Entity Relationship Diagram (ERD), and documentation related to user feedback. Wherein, physical database modeling consists of database design-related documentation, server model diagram, and documentation of user feedback.

Business Process

In broader terms, a business is considered a system that is part of society. The resources of the business are utilized for the production and transformation of consumable goods and services through processes. A process includes different coordinated activities that provide a certain outcome. Constructions of building, producing medicines, etc. are a few examples of processes. The success of a process can be measured in the following circumstances:

  • Resources are utilized in an optimum way
  • Activities are done effectively
  • Outcomes are as per the expectations or near to the expectation level

– Ingredients for Business Process

A business process might use the following ingredients:

  • The data to obtain for the business objective
  • Ingredients for undertaking the process across activities such as storage, data control, acquisition, distribution
  • Organizational units, persons, teams that support in performing and achieving the activities
  • Decisions for enhancing the data value while running the process

– Business Analyst

A business analyst is responsible for:

Understanding the business requirements

To understand the crux of a project is considered a crucial role of a business analyst. One of the fundamental responsibilities of the business analyst is to work according to relevant project stakeholders in order to understand their project requirements and further, translate these requirements into detail so that developers can interpret them.

Information Analysis

In this, different elements are reviewed in detail by a business analyst for the purpose of determining the adequate steps that a business is required to take to achieve its goals.  The interaction with the technical architects and the development team for the purpose of layout designing is also a part of information analysis.

To Communicate with different Stakeholders

A business analyst is supposed to deliver quality presentations on different topics such as project status, business needs, application designs, etc. to different stakeholders. Generally, these stakeholders include an organization’s key management people, senior executives.  It is the responsibility of business analysts to communicate clearly and impressively to impress stakeholders through their presentations. This creates a positive effect on a business’s growth.

To Document the Findings

This responsibility includes evaluation of the needs and ensuring that all the comprehensive details that are required to develop and implement the process; are collected by the implementation team. For this, business analysts collaborate with different stakeholders and customers to document the findings for the purpose of mentioning each requirement of stakeholders in an efficient way.

To Evaluate and Implement the Best Solution

Business Analyst ensures that the design of a system is as per the expectations and needs of the customer. Business analysts identify different alternates to sort out specific difficulties and find out the best alternate.

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