The first article of the series “Supporting core BPM principles with BPMN 2.0”, presented business processes as organizational assets that are central to creating value for customers.
This means that, similar to other types of organizational assets (e.g. employees, materials and capital), a company should ‘take care’ of business processes. The second BPM principle addresses this issue, by stating that “Processes should be managed”.
Processes should be managed
Because processes are organizational assets, core processes and processes that generate the most value to customers, should be carefully managed. Managed processes produce consistent value to customers and have the foundation for the process improvement. Transferred into the Pizza restaurant viewpoint, these means that each time a customer orders the same pizza from a menu, he would actually receive ‘the same’ pizza (the pizza of the same quality).
While this ‘positive’ pizza scenario seems self-evident, several negative scenarios might be even more likely. For example, a customer might receive a wrong pizza, a pizza with a missing ingredient, a smaller pizza, a cold pizza, too salty pizza, a thinner pizza, etc. In all of these ‘negative’ cases, the customer’s confidence into the Pizza restaurant is reduced, which could finally lead to a loss of a customer. How to avoid such negative scenarios?
The second BPM principle states that a company can deliver consistent value to customers by measuring, monitoring, controlling, and analyzing business process, which mean following :
- Measuring of business processes provides information regarding these business processes, which allows organizations to predict, recognize, and diagnose process deficiencies, and it suggests the direction of future improvements.
- Monitoring enables the detection of variances in process instances, which usually indicate problems. Once a process displays high variability, there should be a mechanism allowing the process to be controlled. Process controlling can be done by adding more resources (people, machinery, etc.), shutting down the process if the situation is critical, or activating an alternative process.
- Analysing process information is an essential step to identifying what parts of a process needs improvement, and which improvements are most likely to increase process consistency, effectiveness and efficiency.
Figure 2 represents measuring, monitoring, controlling, and analyzing of the pizza production process.
A common concept related to business process management activities is so-called Key Performance Indicator (KPI). KPIs are typically derived from higher level business goals (e.g. lower pizza delivery time by 20%) and can comprise generic metrics that are applicable to any process (e.g. process duration), or process-speciﬁc measures, that are typically based on the properties of process-relevant business objects (e.g. pizza preparation time). The metrics can be calculated for one single process instance (e.g. individual pizza delivery time) or may be aggregated over several process instances (e.g. average pizza delivery time).
How does BPMN support the 2nd BPM principle?
Despite of the importance of business process performance measurement, current business process modeling languages provide little or no support for the definition of process performance metrics and this also applies to BPMN. However several solutions and workarounds can be used in case of BPMN 2.0.
A direct and simple solution is to extend process diagram with additional process monitoring and controlling activities. Figure 3 presents the extension of the pizza process with two additional activities dedicated to process measurement (elements colored in orange).
Secondly, most of the market-leading BPM tools implement vendor-specific solutions that enable the definition of performance metrics as part of business process management. The drawback of this vendor-specific solutions is that they are not standardized and therefore ‘locked’ to a specific BPM tool.
This usually involves the extension of the BPMN 2.0 meta-model and the definition of visual representations of the extensions (new BPMN elements). Once defined, performance metrics present an integral part of the process model. However, to be able to define and make full use of the performance metrics, BPMN modeling, implementation and execution tools have to support proposed BPMN extensions.
This article presented the second BPM principle stating that “By measuring, monitoring, controlling, and analyzing business processes, a company can deliver consistent value to customers and has the basis for process improvement”.
Since it is usually cheaper to keep old customers compared to getting new ones, this principle is usually critical for business success. Similar to other process modeling notations, BPMN 2.0 does not directly support the second BPM principle.
 J. F. Chang, Business Process Management Systems: Strategy and Implementation, 1st ed. Auerbach Publications, 2005.