Process Architecture

Building a good process requires clear ownership and a deliberate plan. There is a fair amount of work that goes into it, which can be broken down as follows:

Basic theme   



















Identify,   design, and implement balanced   process metrics and measurement   
Implement process   metrics and   measurement reporting mechanisms   
Identify and implement KPIs   (And KRIs)    aligned   to process   
Evaluate cycle times   and identify potential wastes   
Align   level and recognition of people involved in the   process to align with process   

Process design   with customer interaction trigger mechanisms   
Design process in line with customer expectations   
Identify customer process performance expectations   
Design customer entry points and   define transaction types   



Process Change   
Identify incremental and re-engineering process   enhancement opportunities with staff involvement   
Design process with minimal process   hand-off’s   
Create and execute process improvement plans   
Identify process   automation opportunities   
Pilot process   design to ensure meeting performance objectives   
Design efficient process with   governance & internal control considerations   
Conduct demand   and capacity planning   activities   


Staff Training   
Develop and conduct staff   training initiatives in line with customer,
process, product, and systems expectations   
Develop skills   matrix and staff capability requirements in line with process design   
Define technology enablers   
Align process objectives with organizational goals   
Engage impacted stakeholders on process changes   







Process performance monitoring   
Report on process and staff performance with utilization of visual management tools   
Obtain continuous customer satisfaction and expectation of process   
Active management of process exceptions   
Monitor staff performance metrics   

Process Change   
Identify process   improvement opportunities on a continuous basis   
Focused process hand-off management and   tracking   
Demand and capacity planning and monitoring   


Process Change   
Process maintenance and continuous update   
Define and conform to process documentation standards   
Process communication and awareness   
Staff Training   
Utilize process documentation knowledge to facilitate staff training   

Like any activity, it helps to document it. I use a template like this.

Using the Outcome Identification Loop

The Outcome Identification Loop asks four questions around a given outcome which can be very valuable in understanding a proposed design, event, or risk.

The four questions are:

1Who else might this affect?Stakeholder Question
2What else might affect them?Stakeholder Impact Question
3What else might affect this?System/analysis Design Question
4What else might this affect?Consequence Question?
4 questions in the Outcome Identification Loop
Outcome Identification Loop

Through answering these questions, outcomes and relationships to further define a central question, and can be used to shape problem-solving, risk mitigation, and process improvement.

Questions 1 “Who else might this affect?’ and 2 “What else might affect them?’ are paired questions from stakeholder identification and analysis techniques.

Question 3 “What else might affect this?” relates to system analysis and design and can be fed by, and lead to, the chains of outcomes elicited using analysis methods, such as process modelling and root cause analysis.

Question 4 “What else might this affect?” considers uncertainty and risk.

These four questions can be iterative. Use them near the beginning to define the problem and then at the end to tie together the entire work.

Understanding How to Organize Process

Process drives the work we do. We can evaluate processes on two axis – complexity and strategy – that help us decide the best way to manage and improve the processes.

Process by Complexity and Strategy

Process complexity and dynamics are what types of tasks are involved in the process. Is it a simple, repetitive procedure with a few rules for handling cases outside of normal operation? Or is it a complex procedure with lots of decision points and special case rules? Think of this like driving somewhere. Driving to your local grocery is a simple procedure, with few possibilities of exceptions. Driving across the country has a ton of variables and dynamism to it.

While complexity can help drive the decision to automate, I strongly recommend that when thinking about it don’t ask if it can be automated, only ask what would be involved if a human were to do the job or how it is done with current technologies. Starting with the answer of automation leads to automation for automation’s sake, and that is a waste.

Dynamics is how much the process changes – some change rarely while others change rapidly to keep pace in response to changes in product or external factors (such as regulations).

Strategic importance asks about the value the process contributes to meeting requirements. Is the process a core competency, or an enabling process that needs to be accomplished to ensure that you can do something else that meets the core requirements? Needless to say, one company’s strategic process is another company’s routine process, which is why more and more we are looking at organizations as ecosystems.

Processes are in a hierarchy, and we use levels to describe the subdivision of processes. We’ve discussed the difference between process, procedure and task. At the process level we usually have the high-level process, the architecture level, which are the big things an organization does (e.g. research, manufacture, distribute), mid-level processes that are more discrete activities (e.g. perform a clinical study) to even more discrete processes (e.g. launch a study) which usually have several levels (e.g. select sites, manage TMF) to finally procedure and task.

Level of ProcessIncludesKey Ways to Address
High-Level ProcessHow key objectives are met, highly cross functionalOrganization design. System Design
Mid-level ProcessHow a specific set of departments do their major work blocksProcess Improvement
Low-level processHow individuals conduct their work in sub-blocksKnowledge management, task analysis, training
Levels of Process

To truly get to this level of understanding of process, we need to understand just what our process is, which is where tools like the SIPOC or Process Scope diagram can come in handy.

Process Scope Diagram

To understand a process we want to understand six major aspects: Output, Input, Enablers, Controls, Process Flow, People.

Complex and Complicated as Tools for Process Understanding

Simple processes usually follow a consistent, well-defined sequence of steps with clearly defined rules. Each step or task can be precisely defined, and the sequence lacks branches or exceptions.

More complicated processes involve branches and exceptions, usually draw on many rules, and tend to be slightly less defined. Complicated processes require more initiative on the part of human performers.

Complex processes are ones that require a high level of initiative and creativity from people. These processes rapidly change and evolve as time passes. Successful performance usually requires a connection to an evolving body of knowledge. They are highly creative and have a large degree of unpredictability. Most complex processes are viewed at the system level.


  • Benedict, T. et al. BPM CBOK Version 4.0: Guide to the Business Process Management Common Body of Knowledge. ABMP International, 2019.
  • Harmon, Paul. Business Process Change. Morgan Kaufmann, 2019.
  • Nuland, Y. and Duffy, G. Validating a Best Practice. Productivity Press, 2020

Process and procedure complexity

People are at the heart of any organization. They set the organization’s goals, they manage it, they deal with suppliers and customers and they work together to produce results.

We manage this by processes. Process are on a continuum by how complicated and complex they are. Simpler jobs can be reliably done by following procedure. More complex ones require the ability to analyze a situation – using established rules – and decide which of several alternative paths to follow. In even more complex cases they analyze, diagnose, design, redesign, program, plan or schedule. In some cases, they create new products, processes and new ways of being. Very complex jobs require individuals who can analyze and solve very complex problems.

These complex, knowledge driven processes get difficult to provide as work-as-prescribed. The work involves thought and creativity, and finding the right balance is a continual balancing act of knowledge management.

Process, Procedure and Task

A task is the steps for doing a particular piece of work.

Procedure are activities made up of a series of tasks.

A process is an upper level description of a series of activities required to accomplish an objective. Processes are made up of procedures or tasks. They have inputs and outputs.

Flow of sequences of activities that transform input elements into resultsSpecific and required way to carry out a processDescribe the correct steps to perform a specific task
What we do By Whom Where it takes place When it happensHow the work must be performedHow to accomplish a specific task within a process with very detailed directions
Orchestration the workMandatory methodMandatory guidance
Can link to 0, 1 or more proceduresIt may consist of 0, 1 or more task instructionsFocus on the instructions of 1 task
Transversal by business unitsCross functional or only 1 business unitOnly 1 business unit
Participate more than one roleParticipate more than one roleParticipate only one role
Encapsulates activitiesExplains how to do but doesn’t get to all the details of how it is doneAll of the detail of all the steps to follow in an activity
Provides the workflow model at the highest level using  BPMNDocument with both narrative and images, usually in the form of use cases and workflow diagramsDocument with the maximum detail that explains step by step the instructions that must be carried out in an activity
Process, Procedure and Task Differences

This is the middle of a traditional document hierarchy and form the Functional set of documents,