The Need for a Standard Business Process Depiction Language (BPDL)

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What’s at stake.

As companies move towards a process centric organizational model, the standardization of their business process maps becomes an increasingly important issue. The maps need to have the same general format, use the same set of symbols and be able to be read the same way. Doing so can save large organizations literally millions of dollars, in typically hidden costs, by reducing training times, cycle times and time to market in the long run and hundreds of thousands of dollars in the short term production, by eliminating the need to re-explain to others what the maps made in one group mean to others that weren’t in the group when the maps were made.

This seemingly small and insignificant concept is actually a critical detail of huge proportions in larger organizations that have literally thousands of business processes and sub-processes all working and in motion at the same time on any given business day, and that need to be updated from time to time to be kept current.

Smoother running, more efficient organizations have more synchronized processes, and the detailed synchronization of those business processes is virtually impossible without mapping them. Those companies lagging or falling behind in this effort - still have many processes out of synch and disconnected and they are literally costing these companies millions of dollars a year in wasted effort and resources that they can no longer afford to absorb, and still remain competitive.

The corporate need.

For mapping to be leveraged and its full benefits realized, companies eventually realize that they must adopt or develop a company wide common mapping language as a minimum.

Training Challenges

Gaining the required wide spread understanding of a common mapping language is more challenging in companies with larger staffs, higher turnover rates, or internal transfers between project teams the results more than outweigh the costs.

Internal Standards still problematic

Any corporation with its own standards certainly has a better opportunity to control them than we do with an industry wide standard language. However companies that develop their own mapping languages still have to contend with software integration, upgrades and compatibility issues, not to mention the inevitable evolution and morphing of the language itself.

These issues and their associated complexities tend to drive companies moving in this direction towards simpler excel, power point or Visio type solutions where they have more direct control and shorter turn time on standard changes, and application program upgrades are less expensive.

The need for a broader standards solution

These types of “home grown” efforts are commendable and will meet a company’s short term needs, however it is not the direction needed for good long term IT industry software solution development. When combined with the growing push and need for external collaboration and outsourcing, argues strongly for shifting the standardization effort to an industry wide level where a common language could be adopted and integrated with the software as well as staff training program, and material development, on a more cost efficient scale.

The Missing Link in BPM

What is still needed.

Today’s businesses as well as the IT industry need a common mapping language that will enable businesses to more effectively focus on, think about and more importantly, accurately discuss their Business Processes

A language that is robust and will support and facilitate the comprehensive collaborative interaction between suppliers and partnerships and is so simple, intuitive and user-friendly that once it’s introduced and trained on by the end user – it quickly becomes a seemingly natural skill for them to use – like riding a bicycle. A language that they assimilate and replicate in sketch format on napkins as they discuss their idea’s over lunch, or in the white boards in conference rooms during their meetings. It’s more than just the application that the designer pulls up on their PC – it has to be a real language that facilitates and becomes the way people think and communicate about their processes.

In order to differentiate between what BPMN is and what I’m talking about I call this more user friendly symbol set “Business Process Depiction Language” or “BPDL”.

While the work on BPMN has made great headway and appears to work well from the backroom out, it still seems to lack the detail, clarity and flexibility needed by the individual workers to be usable at that level.

Next Steps

As for the IT industry and for national and global general business expansion to be moved ahead competitively – an industry wide BPDL standard is required.

that can then can be given to the IT industry so they can move on to develop the final set of tools that will translate BPDL into the various tech languages.


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