Friday 9 February 2024

Business process scoping

The core idea of Business Process Modelling (BPM) is to understand the outcome, sequence and  activities needed to achieve a specific result. To define the rules of interaction between all participants.

Any business process is an end-to-end set of activities which collectively respond to an event and transform information, materials, and other resources into outputs that deliver value directly to the customer(s) of the process. This value may be realised internally within an organisation, or it may span several organisations.

When looking to automate a process, at a high level there are only four  aspects to any process:
  1. Trigger: What starts the process
  2. Result: what does the process accomplish
  3. Steps: What are the steps in the process
  4. Needs: What are the specific needs for each step
If you can identify all of the above, you can successfully map any business process, this may seem simple enough on paper, however in real life this is generally where murky waters start. Often times organisations do not have clear cut business processes, most processes are born out of necessity and start relatively simple, however over time they tend to grow and mutate into something that started pragmatically, but has over years transformed into a behemoth. Many times these 'organic' processes are never documented, and more often than not reside in someone or a group of peoples heads. In the latter, often times various stakeholders understand part of the processes or worse yet they have varying opinions on what the actual processes is. For this reason before modelling anything it is important to lay out the boundaries of the process. 

There are a number of business process scoping methods, these methods help you understand the environment around the process, the value of the process, and a high level overview of the process. By understanding the 

SIPOC (seabook)

SIPOC is an acronym that stands for Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, and Customers. It is a high-level process mapping tool used in business analysis and process improvement.
  • Suppliers: These are the entities that provide the inputs needed for the process to function.
  • Inputs: These are the resources, materials, or information required to initiate the process.
  • Process: This refers to the series of steps or activities that transform inputs into outputs.
  • Outputs: These are the results or products generated by the process.
  • Customers: These are the individuals or entities who receive the outputs of the process.
SIPOC diagrams help to identify and understand the relationships between these key elements of a process, providing a clear overview that aids in analyzing and improving processes within an organization.
Suppliers Inputs Process Outputs Customers
These are from where all of your inputs come, there could be one or dozens of suppliers This represents all of the tangible or intangible things you get from your suppliers, and you need for your process to produce outputs This is a list of all of the steps you need to take your inputs, and transform them into your output(s) These are the outputs of your process, ideally each process should be mapped to one output, however every rule has its exceptions This column represents your customers, these are the people/organisations/departments, etc who will benefit from the outputs.

Keep in mind that the SIPOC is not a tool meant to model your process, this tool's purpose is to have a broader conversation around the upstream and downstream aspects of your process, understand the suppliers and their inputs, as well as the outputs and their customers. 


The IGOE (Inputs, Governance, Outputs, and Enablers) framework is a method used in systems thinking and analysis. It breaks down a system into four main components:
  • Inputs: These are the resources, materials, or information that are utilized by the system.
  • Governance: The rules, regulations, and decision-making structures that guide the system.
  • Outputs: These are the results or products generated by the system in pursuit of its goals.
  • Enablers: Factors that facilitate or support the achievement of the system's goals
The IGOE framework places the 'Process' at the centre and then looks to the left and right of it, as well as other factors which impact the process. 

This approach again has it's short comings, however the two analysis approaches together provide a strong understanding of the process.

Process scoping

Process scoping is a hybrid of the previous two approaches, it creates a holistic view of the particular process, the advantage of merging the two is a holistic overview in one model, then downside is that this model is complex to create as well as understand, for this reason it may make more sense to use the previous to models to gain the necessary understanding, but then to combine the two into one model for a cohesive representation. It is made up of seven parts.
  1. Outcomes: the result of the process
  2. Process steps: the chain of granular steps which result in the outcome
  3. Triggers: anything which starts the process
  4. Participants: every individual or group who's input is required for the process
  5. Variants: Any edge or alternative flows to the main process. 
  6. Governance: The rules, regulations, and decision-making structures that guide the system.
  7. Enablers: Factors that facilitate or support the achievement of the system's goals

Generally when creating a model such as this, one would work backwards, from the outcomes through to the triggers, than to work out from the participants, variables, governance and enablers, this provides a high level overview of the process and the all of the influencers surrounding it.

Establishing granularity

Regardless of scoping technique, you always end up asking yourself the question is this a process of processes, that is are any steps within my process, processes themselves? Let's take a look at the following process steps:

  • Register a lead
  • Score a lead
  • Update status of a lead
  • Sign a contract with a lead
  • Register service request
  • Dispatch a field worker
  • Process payment
  • Assess Service quality
  • Apply correction
  • Produce report

We can ask ourselves, is this one process? or are there multiple process here? Though all of the above are granular steps in an overall flow, however these could be segmented into four different processes.

Token analysis

In token analysis a business process should only handle one thing at a time, the token; meaning that each step should impact the token in some way or form, transform it, capture some information about it, route it. If there is a change in token between steps, then you are most likely dealing with a separate business process.

Process a lead
  • Register a lead
  • Score a lead
  • update status of a lead
  • Sign a contract with a lead

Process a request
  • Registeres service request
  • Dispatch a field worker
  • Process payment

Assessment of services
  • Assess Service quality
  • Apply correction

Generation of report
  • Produce report

As. you can see the 'macro' flow deals with four different tokens, hence it can be segmented into multiple process each time there is a change in token.


As you may recall we have four parts to a business process:
  1. Events: Things that happen outside of the process, but have an effect on the process
    • Triggers: an action that starts the process
    • Timers: an interval which starts the process
    • Messages: information which the process receives
    • Error: a fault that impacts the process flow
  2. Outcomes: what does the process accomplish
    • Every process exists to deliver a specific repeatable outcome
    • A process must have at least one outcome if not several
  3. Actions: What are the steps in the process
    • Each action is an activity carried out by an agent; it may be a person, organisation or an automated solution.
    • Actions represent an activity used to product a final ore intermediate result
    • Actions may be standalone steps, or the may represent a sub-process
  4. Participants: Who or what performs the actions within the process
    • The executors as well as any relevant parties of the actions or process:
      • Supervisors
      • Informed party
      • Decision maker
      • Operator
At a macro level every process should consist of the four key elements above