Why You Need to Restore the Art in Process Design

There is an unfortunate assumption that only ‘creative’ work such as graphic design or copywriting requires artistic input. In practice, however, every type of work can be broken down into a technical part and an artistic or creative part. This holds true for business process design as well.

Business Process Design (BPD)

The problem is that the creative aspects of process design are lost when it is entirely entrusted to BPM software. The outcomes of excessively technical process design are suboptimal results and utter frustration. Businesses are left clueless about what went wrong. After all, if every single BPM software implementation step is followed to a T, it should all work like clockwork, right?

Well, not quite.

Let’s first take a look at the role process design plays in the entire BPM canvas.

Why process design is important

Business process design defines workflows, equipment needs, and implementation requirements in a particular process. It is a structured approach where the process is mapped out and optimized for efficiency.

It uses flowcharts, process simulation software, and scale models to answer questions such as what are the tasks, who does these tasks, and when are these tasks done.

Process design is critical to BPM initiatives for many reasons. It aims to:

  • align daily operations to overarching business strategy
  • improve process communication
  • increase control and consistency of process performance
  • increase productivity and efficiency
  • gain competitive advantage

Simply put, process design is the clear, detailed roadmap that takes businesses from where they currently are to their desired business goals.

Why minimalist options don’t cut it

Technically speaking, process design can be done anywhere–even on a paper napkin or a forgotten whiteboard. But what you need to keep in mind is that process design is not a toddler’s art project to be taped to the fridge and forgotten. It needs to be implemented through BPM software if it’s going to be of any use to the organization.

Secondly, whiteboards may work for extremely simple processes with a limited number of tasks. In practice, processes are rarely that straightforward. The larger the business, the more intricate processes become. Whiteboards, or their equally simple counterparts, are just not built for that kind of nuance.

Process design is an important component to a larger BPM initiative. To be truly effective, it needs BPM software with capabilities such as:

  • an intuitive visual workflow designer with drag-and-drop form builder
  • integration across applications
  • real-time insights into process performance in order to make workflow changes when required
  • document and data management to make necessary information accessible for training and audit purposes

So does that mean you need the BPM software equivalent of Iron Man’s Hulkbuster suit?

Far from it.

Business people using business process managment tools

What over-the-top technical solutions are missing

Ultra-technical BPM tools are usually lacking in the artistic approach that we talked about earlier. You can put the art (and effectiveness) back into process design by introducing these practices:

1. Get context

A very critical part of process design is context. It’s extremely common for businesses to think that a new BPM solution will cure all existing issues without taking into consideration the complete picture surrounding the need for the BPM solution.

What’s really needed is for everyone involved in the design effort to understand what the business goals are, the current state of processes, pain points and bottlenecks, and available resources.

2. Collaborate

Process design requires multiple stakeholders to come together for optimum results. Process owners, performers, leadership, BPM consultants, IT, suppliers, and everyone else with a contributing role need to collaborate in order to create a process design that can deliver required outcomes.

3. Simplify

One danger with getting too technical is that process design may end up looking like indecipherable maps the size of a silverback gorilla. Process design is intended to simplify, not intimidate. It has to be accessible and easily understood by every stakeholder in the process.

The manner of documentation needs to be simple. Tailor the level of detail in the process design to the target audience’s requirements. Store them in accessible locations and update them periodically.

4. Understand user needs

BPM has to feature human-centric process design in order to be effective. The experiences and narratives of process stakeholders have to necessarily form a part of the process design effort. If process design doesn’t enhance employee experiences, it’s not likely to improve productivity as you had hoped.

5. Take a long-term approach

Another aspect of good process design that requires more than technical knowhow, is the ability to consider process improvement efforts from a long-term perspective. BPM initiatives are never about overnight successes or instant ROI. The changes that are being introduced also have to be viewed from a sustainability standpoint.

Business team doing business process design


The best bet for businesses today is to invest in BPM software that are flexible enough to incorporate creative approaches. Forget about using one tool for process design and another for reports and insights. Choose solutions that can help you manage all types of work, collaborate effectively, and drive efficiency initiatives as a cohesive organization.