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Business Process Modeling Tools: 5 Questions to Ask

Rachel Nizinski, Appian
July 25, 2023

If your business has a lot of complex workflows, you’re likely relying on a number of tools and manual processes to get things done. And if you’re seeing that processes are slow, inefficient, or require a lot of manual work, business process modeling tools can help.

What are business process modeling tools?

Business process modeling tools are specifically designed to help you model and optimize your business processes. These process improvement tools provide visualization, analysis, and management features, usually delivered via a standalone application or a complete process automation platform.

Types of business process modeling tools.

Common business process modeling tools include:

  • Diagramming tools, used for creating simple flow charts, diagrams, and process maps.

  • Process mining tools, used to visualize the actual execution of business processes. 

  • Simulation tools, used to analyze the behavior of processes under different scenarios.

  • Business process management (BPM) suites, used for end-to-end process management.

These tools help you identify areas for improvement within your internal processes. By mapping your entire process, you can get a better understanding of how it currently runs and how it can be optimized. By diving deeper into each process step, you can fine-tune how your process is being executed. For example, you might find an area where repetitive tasks, like data entry, are causing a lot of errors and rework. This is something that could easily be solved with process automation capabilities, like building an AI model for extracting data from documents.

Business process modeling tools vs. business process improvement tools.

Business process modeling tools and business process improvement tools both play a role in process management, but they serve different purposes.

Business process modeling tools are used to visually represent and document the steps in a business process so you can understand how it works. Business process improvement tools focus on process enhancement. They help you analyze and find ways to make processes faster, easier, or more efficient. 

While modeling tools help you understand and visualize a process, improvement tools give you ways to make processes work better and smarter.

How to evaluate business process modeling tools: 5 key factors.

When evaluating business process modeling tools, ask the following questions to help assess which tools align with your organization's needs and requirements:

  1. What analysis and optimization capabilities are provided? Determine if the tool has features for visualizing and analyzing complex processes, such as process mining capabilities that can measure current process performance and help identify bottlenecks and non-conformances. 
  2. Does the tool support process automation? Consider whether the tool has built-in process automation capabilities that can help you take action on the insights you discover, such as RPA and AI functionality that can be used to reduce manual work. 
  3. Can the tool integrate with other systems and tools? Assess whether the tool supports integration with other systems and tools used within your organization's technology landscape. A tool with data fabric capability will not only integrate, but also unify data sets across your enterprise, enabling real-time data exchange, process automation, and workflow execution.
  4. Is the tool scalable and adaptable? Consider the scalability of the tool to handle a growing number of process models and users. Ideally, the tools you select should help you orchestrate processes across people, bots, and systems, and be flexible enough to handle changes in process requirements and evolving business needs.
  5. Does the tool offer a user-friendly interface? Evaluate the tool's ease of use and intuitiveness. As more business users become technologists, it’s important to choose tools with a user-friendly interface that simplifies the process modeling experience and reduces the learning curve for new users. Look for drag-and-drop functionality, easily accessible training and documentation, and a visually appealing design.

Go forth and optimize.

Selecting the right business process improvement tool is crucial for driving more streamlined processes and achieving organizational efficiency. By considering the questions outlined in this blog post, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your business goals and supports continuous process optimization.