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What is Business Process Modeling (BPM)? - Definition, Notation & Examples

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  • 0:03 What Is a Business Process?
  • 0:39 Business Process…
  • 2:22 Flowcharts
  • 3:00 Data Flow Diagrams
  • 3:47 Gantt Chart & BPMN
  • 5:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kent Beckert

Kent is an adjunct faculty member for the College of Business at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and has a Master's degree in Technical Management.

In this lesson, we'll describe what a business process is and how a business process is analyzed and refined when necessary. We will also view examples of various BPMN analytic tools including flowcharts, data flow diagrams, and Gantt charts.

What Is a Business Process?

For economic reasons you have decided to sell your car. A friend tells you all that you need to do is place an ad in the paper, show the car, and collect your money. After doing some research you find that there are several steps your friend forgot, like completing forms, doing repairs, ensure adherence to state laws, and, finally, preparing a bill of sale. You also find out there is a specific order to follow. In other words, you must complete a detailed process. This is not much different than doing business that is completing a business process to reach the desired result.

Business Process Modeling (BPM)

S. Williams, in a 1967 article entitled 'Business Process Modeling Improves Administrative Control,' explained that the techniques used in understanding manufacturing systems could be applied to business processes. S. Williams formally named the process business process modeling.

The term modeling is a form of simulation where a series of related steps form a process, and these processes are then analyzed, studied, and repeatedly performed with a goal of improving business process performance. Simply stated, the more efficient a process becomes, the less it will cost to complete and will, therefore, lower business costs. The intent of business process modeling (BPM), then, is to optimize efficiency when performing business processes and activities associated with producing products and services.

BPM requires the detailed analysis of each step as they occur and may be in written and graphic forms. Many BPM experts prefer specialized computer programs to help create, illustrate, and analyze the processes, though using a computer is not always necessary. Many times a sheet of paper and a pencil, a white-board, or a flip-chart can be used to graphically represent the process.

Performing BPM on a business process requires a form of mapping, drawing, or otherwise graphically representing each step in the process. A variety of diagramming, flowcharting, and programming techniques are currently available to BPM analysts. Today, flowcharts, data flow diagrams, and Gantt charts are commonly used analytic techniques. A brief description of these techniques and an example of each is provided in the next three sections.

Flowcharts

A flowchart is a pictorial technique using symbols to represent a particular type of action or operation. Flowcharts, both graphically and logically, help focus on process workflows, input/output (I/O) operations, decisions, and mathematical solutions. Many of us can use flowcharts, for example, when we prepare to leave our homes for an extended vacation. We first verify that the house is secure, then we check that the electricity is turned off, and so on. If we determine the toaster oven is still plugged in after leaving, we divert from our present departure to return and unplug the appliance.

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