How to document business processes: Value chain, AS IS and TO BE

Knowing how to document business processes is an essential element for the implementation of BPM in a company.

Without this, it will be tough to understand and formalize how the business value chain works entirely, and later, from that understanding, map the AS-IS process (as it is today) and how it will be in the future, after improvements (TO BE).

Another important point of process documentation is to provide a formal reference, agreed by all involved in BPM in the enterprise so that managers can monitor and manage ceded processes, procedures, performance and the actual results of the improvements.

To help you to understand better how to document business processes in these three moments of implementation of BPM in your company, we developed a list of guidelines and precautions to be used in each of them.

Check out: 3 mapping, analysis, and process improvement techniques

How to document business processes

The importance of documenting processes in the value chain

The purpose of understanding and documenting the value chain is to broadly describe processes in the form of a flow of activities which culminate in the delivery of the final product.

It is from here that the design (AS IS) and process redesign (TO BE) can be done.

Here are some general tips on how to do this documentation:

  • Start by getting an overview of the main activities and products developed by the company.
  • A list of all the company’s products and services help a lot in the beginning to understand the value chain.
  • Remember to identify the processes used to generate these products and services.
  • Describe all activities of the company, from this overview.
  • Try to put the processes in chronological order.
  • Some processes can occur in parallel.
  • Avoid covering more than 3 levels of each process in the value chain.
  • Identify when each process starts and when it ends.

As we said, this is a preliminary step of the documentation of AS IS and TO BE processes. See now how to document these BPM steps.

How to document business processes – AS IS

To gather the necessary information to document the current process, you can use some techniques:

  • Direct observation: An observer stands close to who performs the task and reaps the maximum possible amount of information.
  • Personal interviews: Despite being a very practical way to get information from participants in the process, it is important to take into account various opinions, avoiding focusing conclusions on a single respondent.
  • Structured questionnaires: They are a drawn up series of questions, sent to the participants of the processes, they then answer formally and in writing, which creates a solid foundation for the design process.
  • Uplifting meetings: Also called JAD meetings (Joint Application Development) are composed of representatives of those involved in the process and who meet a few times with the specific aim of documenting this process. The advantage of this method is that at the same time that it “reveals” and documents the process, these findings are now being validated and agreed upon by group members.

Key elements of AS-IS process documentation

The AS-IS process must be represented by a diagram which highlights the following information:

  • Inputs: the process inputs.
  • Systemic support functions.
  • Identification of those responsible for process execution.
  • A detailed description of how to perform the process.
  • Outputs: The outputs of the process.

It is also an excellent opportunity to try to understand problems and failures of the AS-IS process to detect opportunities for improvement!

CASE: Process mapping example for a company

How to document business processes – TO BE

In the case of process redesign, thinking of how to improve them and optimize them to define how they will be in the future makes sense, because the process does not yet exist!

The most commonly used methods to define the new process are interviews and JAD meetings, similar to what is done at the AS IS stage, but with other objectives.

As for the elements to be included in the documentation, they are the same as mentioned and detailed above: diagrams, inputs, systemic support functions, people responsible, process description and outputs.

See more: The 7 activities of the To Be Process and how to perform them

Take care when doing process documentation

No document processes are performed without being very careful, both in the AS IS phase and the TO BE phase:

  • Be very clear with what the objectives of the project are and where they want to go.
  • Be sure to align your project with the strategic objectives of the company.
  • Define the staff and participants of this project.
  • Provide resources and inputs needed to start work.
  • Determine a standard notation for the project. The most recommended is the BPMN 2.0.
  • Choose an appropriate tool for process modeling.
  • Pre-define the techniques for gathering data and information as a basis for documentation.
  • Be clear in defining what improvements will be achieved (in the TO BE phase) and align the expectations of results with the organization’s managers.

Learn more: Why and how to use the most widely accepted BPMN 2.0 notation

Objectives of process documentation

Now that you know more about how to document business processes, understand why it is important:

  • It creates a knowledge base for the company.
  • It is a source for writing manual processes.
  • It facilitates training and knowledge building.
  • The processes can be standardized and reused in new or other processes.
  • It allows process management based on a formal document.
  • It helps define performance indicators for top management to use.

Understand a little more about this when watching this video:

See also: Is process documentation necessary?

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