6 Process Modeling Strings to Tune

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Vivek Kumar

Ever wondered why musicians spend so much time getting their instruments in sync before getting into performance mode? Well, to get the right sound quality of course, as it is imperative that a guitarist, for example, has all their guitar strings tuned. If you are aware of the basics of tuning, when the top string is set right, the others can be tuned accordingly. Even one wrongly tuned string would turn music into noise.

The analogy can be extended to any process modeling exercise as well. This article intends to capture the 6 key points to keep in mind while modeling and thereby derive value from it. If any of these 6 modeling pieces goes out of tune, the modeling exercise would have no value and is bound to fail for the organization

Set the Governance "Right"

Having a Governance Council is q MUST, to carry out the modeling exercise. While most organizations establish this Governance body a majority fail to get it right. It is essential that the Governance is led by a strong leadership to facilitate the support needed for modeling the processes accurately. In many instances the Governance is not represented by the key stakeholders who can facilitate modeling due to the lack of grip on the identified process tracks’ owners. Hence, it must be ensured that Governance is keen to drive the modeling engagement and will leave no stones unturned in getting all the support required to capture all the processes (and the relevant) attributes accurately.

Define the "Enterprise" Process Framework and not the Project Process Framework

How organizations decide on structuring their process levels needs to be ensured through a robust enterprise process framework. There may be a variety of options available. Either the organizations can opt for end-to-end value chains (Order to Cash, Procure to Pay etc.) or they can opt for defining the same under various functional tracks (SCM, Finance etc.). The process hierarchy in the tool is also dictated by the enterprise process framework and it is essential to get it right.
The scope of the project should not restrict laying out the right enterprise process framework. Capabilities and processes highlighted under the enterprise process framework should leave room for scalability. For instance, let’s assume if a project has started to model the finance processes for a geography, the enterprise framework should not be developed by only keeping finance areas in focus. Also, it is advised not to concentrate on a particular geography. Instead, the Enterprise Process Framework, as the name suggests, should provide the enterprise-wide view on the capabilities and the processes. Once the same has been laid out, the project-relevant processes can be linked to the right nodes of the framework.
Another mistake generally seen in this area is not having the right levelling. While some capabilities/processes are very high–level, some are very granular. Hence, it is essential to be as accurate as possible in defining the levels in the Enterprise Process Framework.

Ensure consistency of Standards and Conventions

Taking the guitar tuning analogy forward, if the organization hasn’t set up the right governance body and enterprise process framework there would be repercussions in maintaining consistency of the standards and conventions across the process streams.
If the Governance Body doesn’t have enterprise process visibility, there would be cases where each functional track is driving its own standards. But since the processes are not restricted within a function and are bound to interact with other process tracks, the consistency of process flows would be impacted. This might confuse the user of the modeled process flows.

Don’t model the Process in Silos

In most situations, process design workshops and process modeling activities are maintained as two separate phases in the project. While the process blueprinting exercise is in progress it is always advised that the two are not treated differently. In particular, the process modelers (on the tool) and the business analysts capturing the process requirements from the business need to be on the same page as to what needs to be captured during the process workshops. However, in most cases, a number of process attributes which the modelers intend to capture in the repository are not captured during the process design workshops. This thereby leads to inconsistency in what was planned to be captured on the tool and what was the outcome of workshops. A number of organizations are thereby looking forward to the "Accelerator Hub" kind of approach for process blueprinting where all the stakeholders involved in the process design/modeling are required to be present in the workshops and the processes are modeled, validated and signed-off in parallel.

Configure the tool to meet the standards and aim for accuracy

The standards and conventions which have been agreed need to be adhered to. Most of the tools provide features to configure the standards in order to achieve this. Filters, methods, templates etc. are some of the tools which can be leveraged in order to ensure that the modelers don’t choose the wrong notations while capturing the processes. While training is a must for the modelers before they get into the repository, tool administrators should ensure that minimum rights are given to the modelers that impact the adherence to the standards and conventions.
Processes thus modeled should reflect the designed processes. Tools in some instances can also help in identifying the cross-functional processes which were assumed to have been designed/modeled. These process interfaces should be clearly identified and linked for completeness of the process flows. Most of the tool administrators miss this check in their Q&A checklist with the assumption that it is the responsibility of the other process track to have these processes modeled. When processes are not modeled in silos these cases can be addressed easily.

Manage Change

Processes are not expected to change in due course over time which is always validated by the business. In most cases, organizations conduct a lap dedicated to modeling and once the same is completed, the team is dismantled and only after ‘X’ years they realize that the repository processes do not reflect the ground level activities. Hence it is essential to build process modeling capability within the organization so that the process changes are incorporated in the repository. The governance team needs to ensure that the process changes are routed through the right channels to facilitate the change in processes.
All the points covered above go hand-in-hand and it is therefore essential that not one area is looked down upon. Processes are assets for any organization and by all means their sanctity must be strived for. With all the strings well-tuned organizations can hear the right sound of music they aimed for.