IT Architects™ Process Architecture

While a Data Architecture represents a company’s organization and provision of data, a Process Architecture represents the processes and activities that use this data and transform it into information. The IT Architects™ Process Architecture framework provides an industry-wide “best practices” set of methods and approaches in delivering a robust Process Architecture that has the flexibility to incorporate changes. This ensures that the Process Architecture is up-to-date as the company is constantly transforming itself in the way it does business over time. Thus, an organization must assign process ownership to various corporate entities; while it establishes process governance, change management, and the tools and mechanisms to document processes at an enterprise-level.

New process modeling techniques and approaches have evolved through the 90’s, primarily due to extensive BPR and OO initiatives. Today, Workflow models, the Unified Modeling Language (UML), relational technology, Object-Orientation (OO) and Use Case modeling represent standards that are largely unchallenged. Collectively, these capture business process requirements and are key components of a continuous application development life-cycle. These techniques and models aid the organization in the understanding of its business processes so that it can evolve that understanding into the design and implementation of its systems and applications.

IT Architects uses a combination of Information Engineering and UML modeling techniques to scope and drive out the business requirements. The Process Decomposition Diagram, an Information Engineering approach, has been effective in identifying the processes that support the mission or scope of an organization’s operations. It represents all the things an organization does to manage operations and resources independently of who performs the processes, how they are performed, where the processes are performed, when the processes are performed, and in what order they are performed (or the sequence of events).

The role of Process Decomposition is a top-down analysis approach which is used to understand and document processes which take place in an organization independently from its organization and current practices or procedures. The resulting Process Decomposition Diagram provides a means of verifying understanding of those processes by those claiming responsibility and those held accountable. The value inherent in these processes can be represented by a Value Chain Model where these processes are categorically grouped according to a value proposition.

Further breakdown of these processes into their work activities or procedural steps can be done through other Information Engineering techniques such as Process Flows (also known as Process Charts or Business Process Diagrams), Event Process Chains (ePC), Unit Task Models, Unit Task Dynamics Models and similar models defining sequence, triggers, events, pre & post-conditions, roles, etc. A variation of a process model used to model workflow is the Process Map (or Workflow Model). This model describes the precedence of business activities within a business process. It enables analysts to identify and correct bottlenecks and inefficiencies in order to understand and design workflow solutions.

Many organizations have been engaging their business areas to develop Use Case models – a UML technique that has gained popularity as a way of expressing how people, departments and systems interact to accomplish a portion of the business (or system). The essential idea of a Use Case model is to represent how actors (job functions, departments and external systems) interact with recognized business or system functions. A completed Use Case model represents a prototypical interaction from which numerous usage scenarios can be derived.

There are many modeling techniques and approaches in the arsenal of a team assigned the task of defining and articulating business process requirements. However, the success in fully defining those requirements in support of automation and IT solution initiatives is based on the experience of Process Architects who have a track-record in evolving business process requirements into functional and physical design specifications. This will assure that design and development efforts are aligned with the correct business process requirements, and the delivered solution will meet the client’s expectations.