Business process modeling

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In the business process modeling (ger .: Business Process Modeling ) are business processes or cutouts abstracted from it, usually represented graphically and therefore modeled . The focus is on showing the process, but data and organization (or organizational units ) can also be modeled. Business process modeling is a central aspect of holistic company mapping and is usually understood as part of business process management .

Business process modeling goals

The aim of the modeling is to reduce complex facts of reality to a uniform view. Regulatory requirements for documenting processes also play a role, for example from quality management . Business process modeling is based on the established approach to modeling: First, the purpose of the modeling must be determined. It should be noted that business process models are now often used in a multifunctional manner (see above). The model addressees must also be determined, since the properties of the model to be created must meet their requirements. This is followed by the determination of the business process to be modeled.

According to the objective of the modeling, the characteristics of the business process are specified that are to be mapped in the model. As a rule, these are not only the functions that make up the process, including the relationships between them , but also a number of other characteristics, such as: B. organizational units , input , output , resources , information , media , transactions , events , states , conditions, operations and methods .

In detail, the objectives of business process modeling can include:

  • Documentation of the company's business processes
    • to gain knowledge of the business processes
    • to map company unit (s) with the applicable regulations
    • to transfer business processes to other locations
    • to provide an external framework for the set of rules made up of procedural and work instructions
    • to meet the requirements of business partners or associations (e.g. certifications)
    • to meet legal requirements (e.g. for tenders)
    • to train or induce employees
    • in order to avoid loss of knowledge (for example through employee departure)
    • to support quality and environmental management
  • Preparation / implementation of a business process optimization (which usually begins with an analysis of the current situation)
    • to introduce new organizational structures
    • to outsource corporate tasks
    • to redesign, streamline or improve company processes (e.g. through CMM )
  • Preparation of the automation or IT support for business processes - with workflow management systems
  • Establishing process metrics and monitoring process performance
  • Definition of interfaces and SLAs
  • Modularization of company processes
  • Benchmarking between parts of the company, partners and competitors
  • Find best practice
  • accompany organizational changes
    • such as sale or partial sale
    • such as acquisition and integration of companies or parts of companies
    • such as the introduction or change of IT systems or organizational structures
  • Participation in competitions (such as EFQM ).


At the beginning of the 1990s, Michael Hammer and James Champy formulated the approach of business reengineering , according to which business processes can be structured very easily in order to improve measurable performance parameters such as costs, quality, service and time. The approach was criticized in part because it assumed a “green field” and therefore could not be directly implemented by grown companies.

The requirements and consequences of process focus and aspects of particular importance in business process modeling are therefore:

  1. Analysis of business activity
  2. Definition of business processes
  3. Structuring of business processes
  4. Integration of business processes
  5. Design of the process chains
  6. Assignment of process responsibility
  7. External process chaining
  8. Process improvement / process management .

Analysis of business activity

Core process

By analyzing the business activity (see also business process analysis ), the business processes of a company are identified and separated from one another.

The company's business processes are generally divided into core , management and support processes . (This classification has its origin in the quality management standard of the EN ISO 9000 ff series of standards.)

  • Core processes generate visible, immediate customer benefits.
  • Management processes set corporate goals, control the company and monitor the achievement of goals.
  • Support processes provide operational resources and manage them. They support the core and management processes by ensuring the smooth running of business life.
Example of a process map for a manufacturing company

Since the core processes clearly make up the majority of the identified business processes in a company, it has established itself to subdivide the core processes again. There are different approaches to this depending on the type of company and business activity. A classification differentiates between CRM, PLM and SCM.

  • CRM ( Customer Relationship Management ) describes the business processes for customer acquisition, preparation of offers and orders as well as support and maintenance
  • PLM ( Product Lifecycle Management ) describes the business processes from product portfolio planning through product planning, product development and product maintenance to product phase-out and individual developments
  • SCM ( Supply Chain Management ) describes the business processes from supplier management to purchasing and all production stages up to delivery to the customer, possibly with installation and commissioning

But other classifications are also used, for example customers, products, sales channels.

  • "Customers" describes the business processes that can be assigned to specific customer groups (for example private customers, business customers, investors, institutional customers)
  • "Products" describes the business processes that run product-specific (for example current account, securities account, credit, issue)
  • “Distribution channels” describes the business processes that are typical for the type of customer acquisition and support (for example direct sales, partner sales, online).

The result of the determination and classification of the business processes of a company is usually the process map (for example represented as a value chain diagram ).

Definition of business processes

The definition of business processes often begins with the core processes of the company, because they mean that they

  • fulfill their own market tasks,
  • act largely autonomously / independently and independently of other business areas and
  • a contribution to the business success of supply of the company,

for the company

Example of a definition of the product development business process

The scope of a business process should be chosen so that it contains a manageable number of sub-processes, but at the same time the total number of business processes should also remain within the framework. Five to eight business processes per operational unit usually cover the performance range of a company.

Each business process should be independent - but the processes are networked with each other. Specification of the business process: What should be the result upon termination? Which activities are necessary for this? Which objects should be processed (orders, raw materials, purchases, products, ...)? Define the start and end point. Establishing operational goals.

The result is usually a rough structure of the business processes as a value chain diagram .

Further structuring of business processes



A business process can be broken down into subprocesses until further splitting is no longer sensible / possible (smallest subprocess = elementary process).


Elementary processes then describe a (temporal-logical) sequence with the help of functions (activities, tasks, elementary functions, ...). The sequence of the functions within the elementary processes is determined by their logical connection with one another, unless it is already specified by input-output relationships or milestones.

Integration of business processes

It is checked whether there are redundancies. If so, individual sub-processes may be combined.

Assignment of process responsibility

Complete, self-contained processes are summarized and handed over to a responsible person or a team. The process owner is responsible for success, creates the framework and coordinates his approach with that of the other process owners. In addition, he takes care of the exchange of information between the business processes. This coordination is necessary in order to achieve the overall goal orientation.

Modeling of business processes

Is the documentation of business processes using a certain system and presentation, e.g. B. graphically, one speaks commonly of modeling. The result is the business process model . It shows:


Usually, all levels of the breakdown of a business process into sub-processes are documented. The graphical elements used in modeling one level of decomposition then usually refer to the sub-processes of the next level until the level of elementary processes is reached. Value chain diagrams are often used for this.


The graphic elements used on the level of the elementary processes then describe the (chronological-logical) sequence with the help of functions. It is common to use additional graphic elements to clarify the process in order to represent interfaces, states (events), branches (rules), milestones, etc. Depending on the modeling tool used, very different graphic display forms ( models ) are used for this.

Furthermore, the functions can be supplemented with graphic elements for describing inputs, outputs, etc. with the aim of improving the accuracy of the description and / or increasing the number of details. The function mapping diagram illustrates this approach very well.

Process chaining

Complex processes are modeled as sub-processes. Their interlinking is also modeled, whereby the conditions for the chaining sequence are defined. Models are created that can be of the following types, for example:

  • modal chaining ( modal logic , possible / necessary)
  • final chaining (before - after)
  • causal linkages ( propositional logic , if - then)
  • temporal chains (earlier - later)

The terms can include a majority of such options.

Material details of the chaining (what does the predecessor deliver to the successor?) Are specified in a process interface, if provided .

Process interfaces

Process interfaces are defined to determine WHAT the business processes or their sub-processes have to 'pass on' to one another. As a rule, this WHAT and its structure is determined by the requirements in the subsequent process.

Process interfaces are descriptive elements for the section-by-section chaining of processes. The process interface can

  • be an instance of a partial model without its neighbor already being determined.
  • be an instance of two identical sub-models from two superordinate and neighboring sub-models.
  • be two instances of two different sub-models from two superordinate and neighboring sub-models.

Process interfaces are agreed between those involved in the neighboring sub-models . They are defined in the process model and specifically generated in the instances of the processes. Example of an order process: customer number, article number, number of articles ordered

Interfaces can be:

  • Original input: information / materials at the beginning of the business process
  • Intermediate results between sub-processes: Output from the predecessor and input from the successor are i. d. Usually identical.
  • Final output: Such interfaces embody the actual result / goal of the business process; all process steps and preliminary results are basically only a 'means to an end'.

In real terms, the interfaces are often data or information, but any other material is also conceivable (products in the finished or semi-finished state, delivery note). They are made available via suitable transport media (in the case of data, e.g. by data storage).

Integration of external documents and systems

The relevant environment must be included in the process design (for example using EDI ).

Process improvement / process management

Process flows are regularly checked and adjusted if necessary. A distinction is made between continuous process improvement and process reorganization (process reengineering): renewal of individual sub-processes or the entire business process.

Improvement of the process models

Key figures, especially from logistics , can generally also be used for the management of business processes. Examples are:

  • Lead time : to determine when you can expect a result.
  • Idle time : how much potential for improvement is there in a process in terms of time alone.
  • Familiarization time or set-up time : if someone involved in the process has to change tasks too often, this time increases.
  • Communication indicators (who sends to whom, talks to whom): it can be useful to establish spatial proximity.
  • Working time : how long does it take someone to complete a task.

By establishing a suitable key figure system, area controlling is linked to the processes to be controlled. If it makes sense, the individual steps are mapped in such a way that a control loop is created later. This enables the monitoring and early correction of process deviations. Quality parameters , for example , but also stakeholder satisfaction factors or simple deadlines are used for this. For this purpose, process costing can be used on the monetary side , for example , or a deviation analysis can record the process key figures.

  1. The time required for the individual sub-processes is determined.
  2. Performance requirements are defined: every business process has at least two interfaces: Receipt of requirements / submission of process performance → output standards are agreed (both with customers and with suppliers)
  3. Performance characteristics and control points are defined (lead time, quality, costs, ...).
  4. Temporal (minimize throughput time, maximize utilization) and spatial (arrangement of workstations corresponds to the process sequence → transport routes are minimized) design are determined.
  5. Process documentation: A detailed and exact description of the business processes should create transparency - not only for employees, but also for suppliers, customers, ... (everyone involved). It serves a clear and, above all, uniform understanding of goals etc.

Representation type and notation

In practice, combinations of informal, semi-formal and formal models are common: informal textual descriptions for explanation, semi-formal graphic representation for visualization and formal language representation to support simulation and transfer into executable code. There are different standards for notations , the most common are:

In addition, display types from the software architecture can also be used:


Today, computer-based tools offer extensive support, especially in semi-formal business process modeling. When creating target models will find particular in the realm of Customizing reference process models using, specify the prototypical generic process structures and adapted by modification to the specific situation.

There are tools for visualization, modeling, simulation and CASE tools . Integrated solutions, which expand the mentioned functions by the aspects of workflow and EAI , are often called business process management systems : In order to be able to design the graphical notation more closely to implementation, the corresponding specifications are imported into the system or also defined there, if there are no import options. The finished process definitions can partly be processed directly by an integrated business process engine or they can be exported in a form that can then be executed by an integration platform or the process engine integrated there.

Business processes are basically to be described independently of the implementation, but are often formulated with the aim of designing software-supported processes.


Individual evidence

  2. Prof. Dr.-Ing. R. Mayr: OMEGA + description method  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  

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