Modeling Approaches

Observational Interviews (People, Process and Technology)


To highlight the best approach to any business process modeling activity.  In my opinion you can hire 10 consultants who will follow the lead of your high performers.  The results will be very similar to your experiences where only a margin of the request was met before you changed your strategy.

The requirement for any change in your business must understand the impacts on people, process and technology.  Therefore a very similar approach to the early days “time and motion studies” would be ideal to capture the process by observing the physical activities in the process from the users who are recorded by the applications operational reports.

Truth Statement;

You are not required to purchase any new technology to realize this articles benefits.

You could simply use your ERP system as designed.

You might already own a Business Process Management Technology.

You might finally get your SOA off the ground.

Begin with the end mind

Understand the two perspectives;

(1) A real world C-Level executive and Board of Directors-The what we MUST have to operate in any geography with any supplier and customers from any vertical.  Considered the objective view.

(2) A fit for purpose view – based on the current way and the target state the various functions perform their work.  Considered a subjective view.

The following diagram would be an example of the output at the highest level; assume this provides the Executive and Board of Directors Real World view into the regulatory and general accounting accepted practice workflow.  When we drill into a sub-process we get into the Fit for Purpose view, the way each function performs the same activities with greater depth and details.

Example of a Design Pattern

The above model serves as your Objective Real World perspective; a common business service captures and measures each decision in a table as the column header with values acquired from the functional application used to perform the task.  Below we dive into this subject further.

In the following diagram we can observe the way one sub-model would look as a child to the above process model.

In the following diagram you have a department level model of the same process above with 10 departments having the same first task activity that “identifies a purchase expense requirement”.  Without the expertise to simplify the model to level modeled above; we may fail to use the technology as designed.

By industry standard the model below meets the criteria for most business process modelers; however the technology would require each lane to have the change executed (10) times in the following type of model.  The purpose of this graphic intends to highlight the way standards can introduce failures.  Something that was 1 swim lane in a global capability was modeled in the business process and breaks down the purpose when standards apply.  Each has the ability to converge in the first diagram with sub-diagrams in the sub-model graphic #2.

Although the model above allows you to make a change in the parent and all lanes below “if a sub-model exist” would be executed by a single action in the model above.

Truth Statement

The first model enables a single task to execute consistently across all functions; without forcing (10) individual technical teams to execute 10 different task with the potential to be 10 different project teams. Defines the AGILITY criteria.

Multiply by 10 silo functions who have different timing and different barriers to change; imagine 10 different sets of project documents that could have been as simple as a change request on a weekend with one persons effort.  Defines the complex and less effective for realizing success.

  1. 1 Business person
  2. 1 IT person

Your workforce Skills

There are few Subject Matter Experts with vertical knowledge across the life cycle and most only have expertise in the function they consume from and the people who consume their outputs.


IT NEEDS A GUIDE; The conversations with SME’s on every project degrades the delivery and the knowledge should have been retained by IT.

Unfortunately the records typically look like great records were kept on a project until you open the file and learn the information doesn’t even meet the standards and/or vital information was ommitted and most folders are actually empty.

Many managers find this practice to be a great value and hire several contractors to do this on all projects.

  • The practice has more evidence of a transfer of accountability than an actual process one should perform as an employee.

How to overcome the perception of excellence in reaching for solid service management objectives?

  • I’ll cover this in a subject related to records management at a later date.

If you had and end to end subject matter expert, you might identify design patterns that you would promote to acquire a “real world” view into your organization.

  • A “real world” view applies the industry and regulatory rules to your current state in order to extract the threats and risk away from acceptable amounts of risk.

What you would likely do at realizing this gap; you would do the same as any functional manager you simply hire a contract resource to transfer your own accountability?

  • Every function requires the ability to request an expense type of a contract or temporary resource.

The following diagram promotes the view into the cross functional requirement that every functional organization needs to have access to two primary functions throughout the year and irrespective of project execution.

A mature organization focuses on the handoffs between two functions as these points in a process represent quality data points and they will serve as a companies leverage points.


A five capability model incorporates your Enterprise Architecture and Business Architecture by distinguishing the two primary inputs to your financial statements.  Your expense for the period and your revenue for the period.  Any company in the world uses financial account codes with a chart of accounts in any ERP system.

Transaction Capabilities

(1) You must work with suppliers on your expense transactions

(2) You must work with your customers on your revenue transactions

Security – Identity and Access

You have users or workers that you hire as employees, temporaries you expense from a supplier and contractors you acquire through a supplier relationship.  You can assume these are workers and that the worker has a relationship with either your own company or a supplier contact who has access to your intranet for a period not to exceed or renewed on a quarterly basis.

Both worker types of non-employee workers have “guest level access” based on the organizations reporting manager.


Which department the expense was charged to. We can assume that no employee has greater access than their manager unless a pre-approved role has been designated.

Pre-Approved Roles;

Operations/Budget Managers and Financial Analyst/Controllers are two roles that broadly apply a VP level across more than 1 business department; qualifying for the pre-approved role.

In the following diagram; an expense process flow at Level 3 we can quickly understand that every organization can submit a request to purchase; each organizations process will be expanded upon yet the decisions and actions will stay the same.

Lesson’s learned in many procurement process modeling projects; the outlying departments are often overlooked and disaster occurs after the project goes live.  Therefore the risk to your financial statement accuracy can become a victim of something as simple as understanding the landscape across your organization.

The diagram above fails to me the standard of most business process experts; let me show the way the diagram would look if we followed the single department in each swim lane approach that the standards prescribe.

The model we are looking at now; fails to offer any systemic policy control.

  • An expense transaction covers any planning transactions which need to be reported for audit or regulatory purposes.
  • Budget Allocation and the authorization given to a manager to spend the budget should serve as the pre-authorization of the approval rather than forcing managers to approve every record in the transaction process.
    • The authority most often gets transferred to a lower level resource who has no training to make the decisions on the validity.
    • The result introduces several other key control threats


Build systems to promote the 3rd party design in all cases and challenge the customization in ERP


Do not re-invent the wheel on every project instead build the process to guide the policy using an adjacent possibility model.


Stakeholder conversations become less opposition and greater results contributing to speed and high performance.

  • 30% of the senior level resources will be managing the higher risk type of offers
  • 70% will be in the agility layer with high volume and speed topping the list of requirements with this audience.

Points of Failure

People will try to workaround systems when they feel constrained, offer the exception after defaulting to the preferred.  The next choice must be to allow some variance within the guides of the highway lanes.  When neither of the system presented choices meet the requirement allow the users to enter free text into a different field forcing the high touch process.

The adjacent possibility allows the rule, the variance within reason and then an exception which can be measured in performance metrics.

The variance within reason allows change without forcing command and control.

The adjacent possibility allows the policies to be transparent to the users as the design meets the rules.

5 capability model

Go no deeper in capability conversations in the Operational Architecture allow functional nuances in the layers below ERP and Records Management.  Buy in becomes less of a negative as everyone wins.

1) a parent model with sub-process models

2) You have the agility to execute a change globally with ease.

You are not exempt from the change management effort; you may not require such effort but would have greater confidence in

the actual change meeting the requirements.

People in the current process doesn’t change; they are simply children models publishing to your Real World models


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