Beyond Business Process Modelling Notation: Why process mapping is more than just flow charts

Since the early 2000s, Business Process Modelling Notation (BPMN) – also known as Business Process Model and Notation – has been the ‘de facto’ format for documenting business processes.

Developed as an international ‘language’ for describing business processes, it provides a complete set of symbols and codes to define and describe procedures in a business environment. The resulting flow charts are intended to visually depict the details of business activities and their flow in an organization, making traditional text-based procedures a thing of the past.

Unfortunately, although this language has been made readily available, a significant number of businesses don’t have strong process cultures. For all the tools at their disposal, they still experience process breakdowns, non-conformance, and troubling degrees of wasted time or resources.

Perhaps the issue isn’t so much an inability to visualize the processes, but more about making those process images easy to engage with.

Decipher your processes

One of the key elements of BPMN is the comprehensive set of notation elements and methodologies. That becomes a problem when the people who are expected to implement a process can’t understand the content.

At its simplest, the point of documenting process information is better execution and continuous improvement.

While BPMN can create complicated and nuanced maps of process information, the heart of the process can be lost to the average user. BPMN relies on expert knowledge of both process theory and the BPMN ‘language.’ Your everyday staff won’t have that, so to them a BPMN chart can be an incomprehensible tangle of lines and boxes.

Process documentation should clarify what the process does in such a way that the people responsible for executing the process can look at it and easily verify that they’re doing the right things. Nintex Promapp® process maps utilize simple, clear diagrams that summarize the important steps of any process at a glance.

That’s not to say the nuances are lost; you can drill down into every process activity with a simple click. Detailed records of tasks, notes and relevant exceptions are all captured and easy to find, all without obscuring the overall process shape and tangling up execution.

Discover your processes

Because BPMN is a tool favored by process experts, it is often the preferred format for recording the outcomes of process management projects. Frequently these acres of documents never see the light of day once those projects reach completion. The resulting process maps are collected into procedure manuals and distributed to teams or business units, or appended to the project reports and filed accordingly.

The problem with such dense documentation is accessing it. Quite aside from how comprehensible the maps themselves are, very few frontline staff have any interest, inclination, or time to browse through a procedure manual for information on their processes.

When teams have process questions and the information isn’t readily available at their fingertips, they’ll ask a colleague or team lead, and use the consensus opinion as their guide for how to proceed.

Processes are there to guide the day-to-day activities of the business, and so they need to be available at that level. Nintex Promapp® puts processes into the hands of the people who use them, with easy-to-navigate process hierarchies and simple search tools. Because it’s a cloud-based platform, process updates are made available to every user as soon as they’re published, and staff can have confidence that what they’re reviewing and using is the single source of truth.

Deliver your full processes

Even with all the BPMN process documents in hand, some processes are still not going to be any easier to execute. That’s because there’s more to a process than just a summary of the required steps.

In any process activity there may be specialist knowledge of equipment or systems required. There could be specific forms or documents to reference or complete, and users might need external information or resources, from legacy systems to cloud platforms. It doesn’t help process engagement if a user can find a procedure in the manual, only to be told to flick to another appendix for the forms to fill out, or to put the manual aside to go access an independent system.

Ideally, those elements live alongside the process information. Where processes reference specific documents, they should be available within the process, connected to the relevant activity.

Nintex Promapp® allows users to upload documents like forms or templates, as well as images, charts, and even video files, directly into the process map. That makes them available to every user as soon as they open the process. Links to intranet or internet resources can be included in the steps, giving full access to all the information a user needs, when they need it.

Any serious enterprise knows that process management is an essential for business success. That can’t simply be relegated to capturing BPMN diagrams though. Nintex Promapp® takes business processes beyond BPMN to engage teams in their day-to-day work. It clarifies the major process activities, while still holding comprehensive detailed information, and makes it easy to find and utilize.

Go beyond BPMN to ensure processes don’t just get recorded, but are used to deliver the best outcomes for your organization.

 

 

Want to learn more about how Nintex can help make process improvement about the direction, not the destination, schedule a personalized demo of the Nintex Process Platform today.

 

 

Thomas Kohlenbach

Thomas Kohlenbach is a senior product specialist at Nintex, the global standard for process management and automation. He has over 12 years’ experience implementing initiatives related to continuous improvement (Kaizen/Six Sigma), change management and system integration, across automotive and financial services industries. Thomas is a passionate business improvement advocate who has helped organizations around the world to decrease operational costs and drive cultural change.

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