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A better way of business process modelling


Processes power business. Any organisation without clearly defined processes will always struggle to operate effectively. They may be able to generate some results, but they will be a long way short of potential. To borrow from sporting parlance, processes offer companies a way of securing the marginal gains needed to stay ahead of the competition. 

The power of processes

This is particularly true in crowded markets with little tangible differentiation between players. If everyone has the same products, with similar prices, then how they serve customers will come down to how well they can operate as an organisation, which in turn is defined by how sophisticated, embedded and accurate their processes are. 

Processes are also intricately tied into the digital transformation of businesses. As more and more of how we work is automated, companies need to understand what processes sustain their operations, how they work and how they connect to other processes across the entire company. 

Process modelling models

Modelling processes is key to getting this right. There are many ways to do this, from business process modelling notation and Gantt charts to unified modelling language, flow charts and data flow diagrams. 

Yet the problem with many of these approaches is that they’ve been around for many years. While they’re all backed by thousands of case studies and testimonials, they were, ultimately, developed in an analogue era, at a time when the transfer of information was rarely, if ever, instant. Do they really work in the digital era?

Take BPMN, for example. Using symbols, usually standardised, to represent tasks, boils processes down to workflows and actions. If X is yes, then do Y. But all that shows the organisation is what to do in binary situations. What happens if the answer is not “yes”, but rather “not quite yes, but not no”?

The challenge of analogue approaches in the digital era

The other issue with models developed in the analogue era is that they are often applicable to everyone or no one. How does that work if you’re a global organisation but with a significant local presence? Traditionally, you either accepted that your in-country operations were effectively franchises, with their own operating models, or you imposed global processes on them. The former might mean that local offices were more in-tune with customers in that country, but opportunities to implement efficiencies in certain areas were lost. The latter might ensure a lean operation, with centralised back-office processes, but the opportunities for relevant localisation were restricted, damaging the customer experience. 

Another way to tackle it would be to have one process model that must cater for all possible variances in that process. In large corporations, these variances are often down to necessary differences between geographies, departments and products. This ‘tightly coupled’ approach forces lots of up-front thinking and analysis to evaluate every variant. It also creates huge bureaucratic overhead as there are potentially hundreds of ‘stakeholders’ in every process.  It is necessarily slow and unwieldy, with little of the agility or flexibility modern markets demand. It is, in effect, the antithesis of what truly digital organisations need. 

A better way of process modelling

There is another way. One that combines a service matrix to manage variance and with modelling at a level that makes sense to the business.

In effect, this approach allows common definition at a level that is practical and easy to agree, while providing smart ways to support real-world variance without having to analyse all potential variants before getting live. So, for example, a business unit based in Belgium can use a global process as the basis for their own version which is better suited to the needs of the local market. It will look and feel different to that used by their Brazilian counterparts, but anyone looking at it in detail would identify a common high-level structure and the re-use of common actions. 

This has three core benefits:

  1. Time to Value – Modelling at a higher level shortens implementation times. This approach to variance drastically cuts bureaucracy because fewer stakeholders need to agree on each model. 
  2. Citizen Development – With common processes defined at a level the majority of users can understand, citizen developers can use this approach to modelling to create, manage, and deploy solutions that drive their business forward. For more information on citizen development, read our Citizen Development blog.
  3. Democratic Change – Having a basic structure with scope for customisation gives users a higher level of autonomy than other approaches. In this way, they can model processes to suit their needs, rather than being forced into regimented approaches with little scope for tailoring or reflecting the realities of different markets. 

How Enate drives variance and simplicity in process modelling

This is exactly the approach Enate takes to process modelling. Unlike other vendors, we allow for variance within the modelling, while still providing a foundation layer that enables consistency across the organisation. And by keeping it simple, our customers can get started without having to try all the possible variations, as the platform adapts to identify new possibilities as time goes on. 

To find out more about how Enate’s approach to process modelling could help your organisation,
visit www.enate.io