The nine principles of Process Design

Business process design is a BPM step that occurs after the analysis and discovery steps. Its goal is to create an improved and optimized process that meets all of your expectations in relation to process performance and strategic business needs.

Oops … if you came here to learn how to “draw” a diagram, then I recommend another article: How to draw a flowchart in 5 simple steps

You may be wondering:

Are there techniques for finding the best drawing?

Yes of course. And you can find them all in a book that’s used as a guide to implementing BPM: the CBOK guide.

These tools and deliverables are listed below:

  • Goals and objectives
  • Performance
  • Workflow
  • Platforms and technologies
  • Data source
  • Operational and financial controls
  • Integration with other processes

And for this, we need to clearly understand some principles, which we will detail below.

The 9 principles of business process design

1- Moments of truth

Moments of TruthMoments of truth in business process design concerns all the interactions between clients and the company.

They are the “moments of truth” because they are interactions between the organization and the customer, who is, perhaps, experiencing your services or products for the first time.

And why is this important?

This moment must be “magic”! The client should feel that their wants and needs have been fully met.

Everything related to the work of BPM is aimed at enhancing the value chain to the client (as it is right now) with something that they perceive as valuable and for which they’re willing to pay a value that remunerates the company, generating profit and wealth.

This concept is even more important when it comes to services, especially when contact with people is constant, such as restaurants, hotels and hospitals.

2- Adding value for the customer

To understand this principle simply answer this question:

Would your customer pay for this activity?

We have to specify these activities because they’re the ones that will lead to the moments of truth, they’re the ones that make the product or service more valuable in the eyes of the client and must be the subject of improvement studies.

For activities that don’t add value, these should be eliminated in the design of the new process.

There is nothing as useless as doing what should not be done efficiently. Click To Tweet

3- The reduction of Handoff delays

A Handoff occurs when there is an exchange of responsibility between teams. This is a critical moment.


Failures, errors and delays can occur at this time, with some risk of getting them wrong during the operation.

Here are some classic examples of handoffs in business process design:

  • In an employee termination process it’s recommended that the human resources area check with the finance department about whether the exiting employee has any pending issues that should be dealt with upon termination. If this interplay isn’t controlled two problems can occur: the process stops for several days waiting for a response from finance, or human resources advances without consulting the finance department resulting in damage to the company.
  • In a hiring process it’s important that the human resources department advises other departments when hiring an employee. If this control fails, the new employee is prevented from working on his or her first day because at that time they won’t have the resources and tools needed to perform their job.

Ideally you need to mitigate handoff problems as much as possible when redesigning business processes.

What should you do?

Use automation technology wisely.

A good workflow configuration will allow process instances to migrate from one team to another securely, bringing with it all the data that’s required for the target team to perform its intended tasks in the process.

4- Caution: Avoid over-automating!

There was a tendency, which is now outdated, to automate everything possible, indiscriminately.

This misconception ended up simply making an old process equally ineffective and inefficient, with the only difference to the redesigned project being: instead of people running the activities, there were automated activities.

Remember this:

Business process design aims at delivering quality, whether this is via automated processes or not.

Also see:  6 features that all workflow automation software must have.

5- Business process standardization

An organization has an extensive series of processes, many of which are interconnected.

If these processes can be reused by the company, ie they “speak a common language”, the operation as a whole will improve, in speed and agility.

Here are some standardization design benefits:

  • It facilitates the operation: standardized processes represent simpler procedures and are easy to learn and memorize. This will positively impact productivity as well as safety.
  • Increased productivity: As the team has fewer issues and makes fewer mistakes, increased productivity is a consequence.
  • Higher quality products and services: standardization is perceived by your customers, who use it to form a concept of quality regarding your business.
  • Reduced costs: less staff time, less resources = cost rationalization.

6- Business rules

There are some rules that must permeate the operation and the processes, facilitating their execution and, mainly, decision making.

An example of a fairly simple business rule could be: children under one meter and twenty can not use this toy.

Avoid including these rules in your process design.


This will make it easier to read and understand your process!

So, how do you do it?

Use a Business Rule task in your process model, and document its rules in structured English, or describe them using another model called DMN (Decision Model and Notation).

Maintaining documented and up to date rules can be very difficult. So during the process design phase it’s very important that rules are identified, listed, documented, and kept consistent.

In addition, business rules are very volatile and change constantly and for that reason they should be periodically reviewed.

Read more about DMN in this Bruce Silver post.

7- Compliance

Apply the most commonly used standards for the market segment to which your company belongs.

Remember to check if there is a national standard that may be different from the international standard and which one is best to use.

An example of compliance affecting many organizations is Sarbanes Oxley, which regulates publicly traded companies in the United States.

8- Validating the business process design

It’s very important that the people working in the process are part of every phase of a BPM implementation, and business process design isn’t any different.

Well … the most discussed form in the CBOK for validation is process simulation, but I believe the best way to validate a process is by submitting a prototype for the evaluation of those people who perform in the execution of the process.

And why validate the process with a prototype?

People in general are not very familiar with process notations, and this problem becomes even more serious when we present detailed diagrams, such as those produced in the process design phase.

It can be very embarrassing for these people to say they didn’t understand one element or another, and, in the face of the unpleasant situation, the answer will be an elusive one …

Yes, that’s correct.

When in fact it is not.

When we run a process with a prototype these people have a greater capacity to understand it.

That’s why those who possess abstraction ability are rare. Usually they’re guided by concrete situations.

But … how do you create a prototype in an agile and low-cost way?

The best way is to use a BPMS (Business Process Management Suite / System) tool, and if that’s your case, I recommend:

  • Don’t worry so much about the forms. Include only the essential fields.
  • Don’t worry about setting deadlines.
  • Make a simple set of responsibilities in the lanes.
  • Don’t use integrations. Create a manual task representing the situation.
  • If possible, always have sessions with two professionals: one analyst to conduct the meeting with the validator and another to implement changes and adjustments to the prototype.

The result of these meetings is incredible! And you’ll be assured that validation will meet all operational needs.

If you’re a HEFLO user see how to perform tests in a process still in the design phase.

And the simulation that I quoted at the beginning of this principle?

I don’t believe in simulation.

It’s an excellent product / service for that consultant who wants to sell many hours of work to a client. Delivering little, makes it slow and is incompatible with the needs of the market.

What do you think about this? Leave your opinion in our comments.

9- Simplicity in business process design

Whenever we look for the complete solution, we fall into the mistake of the complex solution.

Complexity will not bring any benefit to the design of your process. Definitely!

A complex process or operation results in unnecessary expenses, errors, low productivity and delays. We usually call this “bureaucracy” (read “excess bureaucracy”).

Actually a good design job is one that after hours and hours of work results in something simple, containing only the essence necessary to make the process capable of achieving the expected performance.

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary can manifest itself. Click To Tweet


A good business process design has a direct impact on the profitability and success of a company. The better the processes, the better the results.

However, it’s no good getting to the best of all times, if it doesn’t come on time! Many process designers remain days, weeks, and months in the improvement exercise and don’t deliver what the business needs at the right time.

It’s better:

If the process requires many improvements, release them incrementally over several cycles.

Does this sound familiar? What do you think about this?

Do you believe in process simulation? I don’t.

Post a comment and share your knowledge with our readers!

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