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Process Modeling Series III: Composite Business Process Modeling Framework - components of enterprise wide process modeling initiative

Thumbnail image for Process-Modeling_Blog-III.jpgProcess Modeling at an enterprise wide level is now a days a major initiative in many organizations. There are heaps of case studies in APQC website (refer: www.apqc.org ) wherein enterprises have communicated their journey towards business process management and enterprise wide business process modeling initiatives - particularly the case studies regarding Boeing and Coors were very useful. The Process Classification Framework (PCF) from APQC is a very good start for any organization as a reference model to structure and understand their business processes (refer: http://www.apqc.org/pcf ). There are industry wide standard classification for PCF - banking, automotive, broadcasting etc and each of these reference models list the high level business processes starting from the value stream (or at times as the primary business processes and support processes) and drill down subsequently to two or more levels (up to activity levels) and enterprises can make use of them as a head start. Many process consultants also come with this kind of reference models for consulting purposes to ensure that all aspects of particular industry specific processes are captured. There are other reference models like SAP Reference Model, TOGAF Business Architecture Content Framework/Metamodel etc which are also helpful.

Given there are various reference models, but the program or initiative any enterprise undertake for process modeling should in-turn have a framework to ensure that the program/initiative is structured well and taken to the wider audience/stakeholders across the enterprise. A framework is something like organizing things for easier interpretation - for example, if we go to a home, we are immediately able to recognize where is the dining area, reception area, hall, kitchen, washrooms and bedrooms; and once you go to kitchen, we are able to interpret where one can find fridge, burner, cooking utensils and cooking items - so this mental framework helps us distinguishes things and breaks them into components and we are in-turn able to appreciate the whole "home". Similarly, a process modeling framework shall help structure the components of the initiative and the subsequent tasks that are part of the framework which will be easier for stakeholders to understand and contribute further. One can also say this is something like a framework for setting up and sustaining a process modeling center of excellence. Please refer to this wonderful article for BPM Framework provided by Rosemann et al for BPTrends website (http://www.bptrends.com/publicationfiles/FOUR%2009-09-ART-Framework%20for%20BPM%20Ctr%20Excellence-Jesus%20et%20al.pdf ). This is a classic example of a "framework" for BPM.

Now coming to a Process Modeling Framework, from my viewpoint and experience there are seven major items that a process modeling initiative should contain and here I detail the seven components: I would call this as Composite Process Modeling Framework for enterprise wide process modeling:

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1.    Motivation - Motivation for why the enterprise has opted for an organizational wide process initiative and what they are wishing to achieve. Motivation part of the framework shall include the following aspects:

a.    Vision - Vision of the initiative - what is the ultimate goal of the process modeling exercise and what the enterprise wishes to achieve in the long run

b.    Mission - Mission of the initiative - the short term goal that the enterprise aim to address using process modeling so that it can impress stakeholders with some short term achievements of importance

c.    Objectives - define the objectives of the process modeling exercise; what are the factors associated with/for ensuring success of the program; this will in turn help define the key performance indicators for the program/initiative

d.    KPI - performance indicators for the program; define what is considered success for process modeling exercise and in turn define the indicator that can help measure the same.

2.    Governance - Governance is all about two major things - a) what are the decisions to be made and b) who will make these decisions. We need to be clear here in one thing - Process Modeling Governance is different from Process Governance itself. Process Modeling Governance is about ensuring that there are structures and patterns/policies are in place for what/where/why/who/when/how process modeling will happen. The representation of processes as a model is to be useful to the stakeholders and various stakeholders might have various requirements; process modeling governance shall ensure that all the end requirements are met as well as things are in structure. Governance part of the framework shall include the following aspects:

a.    Governance Framework - a framework defining how to classify decisions based on impact of the decision on the program; based on the impact, list the stakeholders who are responsible for the decisions/outcomes involved; based on decisions/outcome define how it can be implemented. This Governance Framework should have to be adhered strictly and templates are to be defined to explain the sequence/logic on which decisions are taken up. It is to be noted here that this Governance Framework is always evolving and should be visited for changes at regular intervals.

b.    Maturity Framework - a framework defining how one can classify the state of affairs for process modeling across the enterprise; this about creating a universal five stage set up enabling the key stakeholders to do a review at regular interval to understand where exactly the program is at a particular time; the process modeling maturity stages might include the usual stages for any maturity framework - basic or initial, repeatable, defined, managed & optimized (though I don't know why all maturity models have five stages always!!). All these stages has to be defined taking into consideration as per the organizational/enterprise current scenario.

c.    Operating Model - this is very important for the success of the overall program and it is also crucial to be defined as part of the Governance aspect of the process modeling framework. Operating Model is all about how the entire program is to be run and who are all the roles involved and what are their responsibilities. Roles and Responsibilities are to be very clear in process modeling initiatives because is all about information collection and presentation of the same information in a common understandable manner; so who will model, how often one will model, and how efficient the modeling environment will be - this is to be very clear. There are multiple operating model categories that one can think of - having a centralized team catering to all business functions/units for process modeling; business units taking care of their own processes and model them with some training; is process modeling can be effectively offshored and how much quality we are expecting for process modeling - all these are factors that help decide the operating model.

d.    Alignment with other enterprise initiatives - Process modeling effort should adhere to other organizational level initiatives like enterprise architecture, business process management, six sigma, lean processes and other quality assurance programs if any. Governance should be applicable for enabling how one ensures that process modeling is in line with the objectives of the other major initiatives.

3.    Modeling & Architecture Definition - This is the main part of the entire initiative - the "modeling" of business processes. Modeling at enterprise wide has its own challenges and various approaches/methodologies for to address variety of requirements from stakeholders. The various aspects of modeling & architecture include:

a.    Process Modeling Methodology - A standard up-to-date process modeling methodology is the foremost important thing. Usually there are various tools that are applicable in any modeling environment and we shall talk about the tools in the subsequent section. But a methodology is all about what information that is to be gathered, how these information are to be represented using a modeling approach/methodology (EPC, Flow charting, Catalyst Approach, Petri-net etc) and what are the rules around which we are going to model business processes; the rules include the semantics for process modeling and things like meta-model definition, hierarchy definition, various models that are to be represented (process model, organizational model, location model, KPI model etc) and how to relate process information effectively. Depending upon the level of information needed and available for modeling, process modelers/analysts go on to capture using a common language with the help of the defined methodology and represent business processes as models for analysis. Apart from information requirements, process modeling methodology must also be flexible enough so as to accommodate various end goals through analysis of process modeling including knowledge management, simulation analysis, system requirements etc.

b.    Architecture Definition - Architecture Blueprint definition is one of the key aspects for enterprise level process modeling. A top down approach for process modeling ensures that the higher level business processes including Value Streams are represented as frozen levels and then the subsequent level or hierarchy of process modeling are modeled as per the needs and information availability. Without proper classification of enterprise process architecture blueprint, it becomes very difficult to hook-in and hook-out process models of lower level granularity. Also freezing the top levels of minimum 3 to 4 hierarchy ensures that stakeholders are able to relate to process flows across various functional and organizational boundaries of the enterprise. Please refer to my previous blog detailing how to define a Process Architecture Blueprint - http://www.infosysblogs.com/setlabs/2009/11/process_architecture_blueprint_1.html#more

c.    Process Modeling Quality - Ensuring process modeling quality through a structured approach while modeling at an enterprise level is very important. This includes enforcing the adopted methodology so that important things are taken care of leading to effective analysis of process models. Some of the basic hygiene quality issues include utilization of proper verbs for activity modeling (Verb Standards), utilization of proper role definitions/swim lane roles across models (Role Standards), utilization of standard hierarchical definition of processes - major processes, minor processes, activities and tasks (Hierarchy Standards), utilization of standards for representing process associations (Association Standards) etc. All these quality assurance aspects when followed effectively ensures that process models are kept live longer for better knowledge management.

4.    Library Management - Process Modeling Library Management is an important aspect as part of process modeling framework - this is the mechanism which ensures that the process models are available to various stakeholders in various formats as it is applicable for. Process Model library is the repository or warehouse for storing process models in a structured way so that all the process models are available easily to right stakeholders - there are statistics stating that the number of process models/diagrams in an enterprise can range from few hundreds or up to 3000 in number. The usual mechanisms include html repositories, portals, team spaces, word, PPT, excel or PDF documents and on demand reports. Following are the various aspects that are part of Library Management:

a.    List of process models - hierarchical as well as alphabetical process models

b.    Process Modeling Glossary

c.    List of models other than process models

d.    Search, View, Comment & Permission features

5.    Tool Administration - Another critical part of enterprise wide process modeling - there are various tools available in the market and tool is a crucial vehicle for modeling as well as analyzing business processes. A standard operating procedure for tool administration is a essential for success of enterprise process modeling. The critical aspects under this topic would include:

a.    Tool Availability and Access

b.    Management of Users and Stakeholders

c.    Ensuring Tool operations and import/export of data in required format

6.    Stakeholder Management - This part of the framework is people management part of the exercise - without people there is no information gathered and with no information there is no success. Stakeholders for such a large exercise include from top management, to enterprise architect community, to BPM stakeholders & to employees implementing processes in real life. Buy in of stakeholders for the program, ensuring stakeholder availability and ensuring stakeholder needs are met is nothing but essential for successful implementation of process modeling exercise. There are various literature surveys available for stakeholder management for large BPM exercises and the issues that arise because of poor stakeholder management. TOGAF 9 has included a special chapter on Stakeholder Management and this shows the importance of this part in the framework. The critical aspects under this topic would include:

a.    Buy-in from various stakeholder communities for the program

b.    Communication and engagement of stakeholders

c.    Stakeholder time and effort management

7.    Training - Training to enterprise employees is last but not least in the framework; ensuring proper training on the methodology concepts and tool administration shall improve results effectively. In fact, the number of hours of training for employees is an important KPI. Training aspects vary from enterprise to enterprise depending upon the stakeholder community interest and requirements.

This framework is very generic in nature and depending upon the nature of the initiative enterprises can have multiple other aspects added to the framework.

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