A Brisk Walk Through Business Process Modelling

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Helen Winter talks with Dorothy Mhlanga about her love for business process modelling, and why it’s one of the most valuable techniques for business analysis.

Helen is a business change consultant with 20 years of business analysis experience and the host at Business Bullet. She holds the BCS International Diploma in Business Analysis and is a Certified Chartered IT professional awarded by the British Computing Society.

What is your favourite business analysis technique and what is it that you love about it?

My favourite technique is process modelling, particularly BPMN (Business Processing Modelling Notation). I love the amount of information that can be gained from using it and how it helps identify gaps that would otherwise be difficult to uncover. You don’t need to be a business subject matter expert to facilitate using this technique, so it is a cross-transferable skill in any industry.

In which situations or at which point in the business analysis process do you typically use this technique?

Typically I will use this for a number of situations:

  1. To understand the current problems that exist and to understand the opportunities
  2. To understand the existing business process and what the to-be process should look like
  3. To form the scope and basis of the business requirements

How is this technique particularly helpful for both business and project stakeholders?

It is helpful in understanding the problems with their existing processes and to understand their requirements better.  As process modelling is very visual it is easier for them to see what has been modelled and to identify gaps and add further detail. 

An additional benefit for the business is that they can re-use the business processes for training purposes when taking on new members of a team.

Why do you choose process modelling over other techniques that can achieve similar results?

The benefit of BPMN is it allows more information to be provided than normal process mapping.

Tasks identified within processes can be labelled as manual, system automated or as a business stakeholder using a system. Process modelling can use swimlanes to show how processes crossover into other business areas, which is a fantastic way to see if other business areas need to be engaged. 

What advice do you have for other people using the process modelling technique? Do you have any tips to make business process modelling spectacular?

Use post-it notes or specialised software to process map in front of the stakeholders. Don’t be tempted to scribble lots of notes and try and put together a process model afterwards.

It is best to walk the stakeholders through the process model at least once to enable any possible gaps and alternative flows to be filled. Ideally, it is best to have the to-be model process approved by stakeholders before starting to write a business requirements document. 

A Brisk Walk Through Business Process Modelling’ with Helen Winter was first published in the Inter-View Report 2017

About Dorothy Mhlanga

Dorothy Mhlanga is a consultant at Saratoga specialising in business analysis, whose main areas of interest are system design and agile project delivery.

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