Basic BPMN Assumptions:
- All information is stored
- Organization has a mechanism of tasks assignation and transfer
- Every task is accompanied by appropriate instruction
- Every task has standard duration and there is a way to control it
3. Every task is accompanied by appropriate instruction
Another way to simplify the diagram: keep in mind that a text description and/or instruction can be attached to a task.
This lets replace the following diagram (taken from a student’s work at BPMN training) -
with simple one:
assuming all the details - how to communicate with the client, what should be in the document, how to deal with ERP - go to the task instructions. The task name refers to the final result of the activities chain.
Not everyone would accept this - some might say the first diagram is better because it’s more detailed.
First of all, why we model business processes? There are variety of possible answers but let’s focus on two:
- To help employees to perform their duties.
- To improve the effectiveness of cross-functional, end-to-end processes.
In the first case the first version of the process is better, in the second - the second. I choose the second option - let me explain why:
- In the first case we are fighting against functional incompetence of the employee. It’s certainly an issue but drawing process diagram is not the only solution. Another options are making the immediate boss responsible for the education, writing a comprehensive instructions, establishing a knowledge base, recording video lessons… after all, the company can simply raise salary and hire more talented staff (as we know, a smart employee doesn’t need instructions while a dumb one can’t use them).
- In the second case, the whole situation is different: it is assumed that employees are functionally capable - everyone can do his own job. But the business process goes through so many participants and is so complex and lengthy that special efforts are needed to prevent it from getting stuck between functions and to make it optimal in terms of quality for the customer and effective use of resources. In this case there is no real alternative to process management - nor written instruction neither salary increases can handle these issues.
Theoretically, two goals - modeling procedures at individual workplace level and modeling end-to-end business processes - don’t conflict and BPMN is suitable for both. But in practice, somehow either one is achieved or the other: if an analyst is too focused on the procedural details, he loses the “big” picture. Conversely, if one targets a big end-to-end process then interest in the micro-management somehow disappears.
Another reason why I prefer second scheme is better robustness.
Any process, if broken into details too much, becomes a case. For example, anyone can handle the task “Buy a peach”. But what if getting too deep into details?
“I think I would like a peach.”
Kid McGarry arose and put on his coat and hat. He was serious, shaven, sentimental, and spry.
“All right,” said he, as coolly as though he were only agreeing to sign articles to fight the champion of England. “I’ll step down and cop one out for you see?”
“Don’t be long,” said the bride. “I’ll be lonesome without my naughty boy. Get a nice, ripe one.”
In O.Henry’s “Little speck in garnered fruit” it ended with police turning Denver Dick’s place upside down. Could the bride foresee it in the process scheme? Obviously not. What conclusion should we make - maybe we should switch to ACM? Or just cut it down to a single task and reliable performer?
Let management by objectives rule instead of micro-management!
More on the matter:
To be continued…