Chapter 3. Process discovery 65
Forgetting about the computers
Imagine that there has been a solar flare and that all telephones, fax machines,
and computers in the world cease to function. We are left with typewriters, paper,
interdepartmental mail (brown envelopes), and a courier service. By modeling a
process in these terms, we can more easily dismiss and distinguish between a
system component from the value-added step the system performs.
Making no assumptions on implementation
Define the entire business process for a full contextual understanding of the
process and all participants and stakeholders. Do not skip modeling a step
because another system already does that activity. The activity is still a crucial
part of the process.
Reconciling with real business examples (do not invent them)
Often discovery of a business process involves multiple SMEs from different
departments, business units, or smaller groups within a business unit where
each is an expert on the same process, albeit a different type of that process
(that is, hiring a college graduate versus hiring an industry veteran). While all
parties might already agree that the process is the same, there needs to be room
and patience during discovery to reconcile variations between groups and
resolve differences in vocabulary to complete a single process model that
accurately represents both groups.
By using a real business example you will avoid making up examples that are
unlikely to ever occur. What happens is that participants recall “one time way
back when” and will produce example cases that are corner cases or exceptions
to the rule. While there is an important time and place for these types of cases,
there is no need to design the process application to the exceptions rather than
the rule at this level of discovering the process.
3.4.2 Recognizing patterns in business processes
From BPMN 2.0 we recognize a business process as a sequence or flow of
activities in an organization with the objective of carrying out work. As you learn
to identify and discover business processes you will begin to see patterns. Many
mistakenly view the application as the process. Software applications and
systems participate in business processes, but are not the process. Even a
workflow application is only an application and is not a business process.
Some who are new to BPM also mistakenly limit their view of a process to the
work performed by a single person. This single-user procedural definition is a
type of business process (this is, do this, then this, and finally do this). However,
66 Scaling BPM Adoption from Project to Program with IBM Business Process Manager
a business process can involve multiple human and system activities, span
multiple departments, and have an enterprise impact.
As your BPM analysts learn to recognize common patterns in business
processes, discovery and analysis activities with process owners and SMEs will
become more efficient. Process models will improve in clarity by recognizing and
re-using common patterns rather than writing new variations of a common
pattern. Your process analysis and implementation of the business process will
also benefit from the recognition and re-use of common process patterns.
There are about two dozen patterns well-documented in prior written works on
workflow and BPMN for the purpose of pattern recognition and re-use in BPMN
modeling. These patterns illustrate common interactions among people and
systems that occur in the way we work. Often times during process discovery
you will recognize the conditions present in the process that can benefit from a
common pattern and apply one of these patterns, thereby improving the
business process and the model as a communication tool to represent the
Chapter 3. Process discovery 67
Applying a common pattern, parallel split, speeds the process by having the
instance travel two parallel paths simultaneously (Figure 3-12 on page 67).
Figure 3-12 Applying a common pattern, parallel split
For more information see: