The big idea
This technique gives you a visual approach to modelling big processes and focusing activity to solve process weaknesses. The tool has been adapted from the Integration Definition for Function Modelling (IDEF) methodology, but don’t let that mouthful put you off! It was developed in the 1970s and is designed to expose waste, cut costs and find opportunities for service improvement.
This technique is most appropriate for modelling business processes:
- that are complicated when you do them but can be better understood by stepping back from them
- that cross internal and external business boundaries
- where value is being added to 'intellectual inventory' (such as new product/service introduction, case management, design etc)
The answer/s you gain using this process are likely to be one possible solution to an open question. Therefore, part of its usefulness also rests on the degree of consensus among the team doing the process modelling.
The purpose of business process modelling is to represent complex processes in a simple way. The technique involves breaking down a complex subject into its constituent parts. It helps you challenge ‘the way you do things around here’ to see if improvements can be made which might save resources. It is not about criticising how you do things; it just helps you look at your processes to see if they have gaps, duplications or are unnecessarily complex. The idea is that breaking the process down helps you see the wood for the trees.
The tool provides teams or groups with an opportunity to discover what the central purpose of a business is. It also aligns the key processes to the enterprise’s objectives in an effective and efficient way.
The tool takes you through the steps for reviewing and improving your processes. It is best used by a relevant group of people who represent the various functions and processes of the business. This may be within one business or across several collaborating smaller enterprises. It is suitable for micro-businesses/SMEs and larger organisations. The tool is most appropriate for a series of group workshops.