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All about Process Management (Part I)

In this article, we review principles and concepts of process management. Subsequently referred to IDEF0 method of graphical representation of processes, outlining the advantages and disadvantages that arise. Finally, we present the syntax and semantics of a process modeling methodology defined by the author.

Traditional Management and Process Management

Historically, organizations have been managed according to Taylorist principles of division and specialization of work by different departments or functions.

Down the organizational structure charts and designate those functions. This type of diagram it clearly defines the hierarchical relationships between the different positions of an organization (chain of command). However, in an organization are not reflected the operation of the company, responsibilities, relationships with customers and key strategic issues and information flows and internal communication.

Departmentalized vision of the organizations has been a source of various problems and criticism because:

  • Targets local and individual sometimes incoherent and inconsistent with what should be the overall objectives of the organization.
  • The proliferation of departmental activities that do not add value to the customer or the organization itself, generating an undue bureaucratization of management.
  • Failures in the exchange of information and materials between different departments (specifications not defined, nonstandard activities, recurring activities, lack of definition of responsibilities, ...)
  • Lack of ownership and motivation of the people, by the separation between "thinking" and "working" and an authoritarian management style rather than participatory.

In the last decade process management has attracted increasing attention, and are widely used by many organizations that use referential quality management and / or Total Quality.

Process approach is the identification and systematic management of processes in the organization and in particular the interactions between such processes (ISO 9000:2000). The Process Management is based on the modeling of systems as a set of interrelated processes by linking cause and effect. The ultimate purpose of Process Management is to ensure that all processes of an organization develop a coordinated manner, improving the effectiveness and satisfaction of all stakeholders (customers, shareholders, staff, suppliers, society in general).

ISO 9001:2000, specifies in paragraph 4.1a) to be "Identifying the processes needed for the system of quality management and its application across the organization." In paragraph 4.1b) requires "Determining the sequence and interrelationship of these processes" and in paragraph 7.1 is qualified: "The organization shall plan and develop the processes needed for product realization"

European Excellence Model (EFQM) also refers to the Process Management in its statement: "Customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and a positive impact on society are achieved through leadership in policy and strategy A successful staff management, efficient use of resources and an adequate definition of processes, which ultimately leads to excellence in business performance."

One of the 9 modules of the EFQM Model is dedicated to Process Management. Its sub are:

  • How identify critical processes for the success of the Organization
  • How systematically manages its processes Organization
  • How review of processes and sets improvement targets
  • How processes are improved through innovation and creativity
  • How to evaluate the improvements

Classification Process:

Not all processes in an organization have the same influence on customer satisfaction, costs in the strategy, corporate image, in staff satisfaction ... is convenient to classify the processes, taking into consideration their impact in these areas.

Processes are usually classified into three types: Strategic, Key, Support.

Strategic Processes:

Strategic processes are to define and deploy the strategies and objectives of the organization. The processes for defining the strategy are generic and common to most businesses (strategic marketing and market research, planning and monitoring of objectives, review the system, technological monitoring, evaluation of customer satisfaction ...).

However, the processes that enable deployment of the strategy are very different, depending precisely on the strategy adopted. For example, in a consulting firm that claims to be recognized in the market for the high qualification of its consultants and training processes knowledge management should be considered strategic. By contrast, another consulting firm focused on providing services supported in software, the process of developing software applications for service delivery should be considered strategic.

Strategic processes involved in the vision of an organization.

Key Processes:

Key processes are those that add value to the customer or a direct impact on their satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Up the value chain of the organization. Key processes can also be considered those which, although not add customer value, resource intensive. For example, a carrier of passengers by air, aircraft maintenance and facilities is crucial for its implications on safety, passenger comfort productivity and profitability for the company. The same process can be considered as maintenance support process in other sectors is not so relevant, such as a training services company. Similarly, the purchasing process can be considered key companies involved in commercial distribution, through its influence on economic performance and the terms of service while the purchasing process can be considered process in an enterprise support services.

Key processes involved in the mission, but not necessarily in the vision of the organization.

Support Processes:

fall such processes to improve control and management system, which can be considered strategic or key. Normally these processes are closely related to requirements of the rules that management models. They support processes, for example:

  • Document Control of Internal Audit
  • Non conformity, Corrections and Corrective Action
  • Management of Non-compliant Management Inspection Equipment, Measuring and Testing
  • Etc.

These processes are not involved in the vision and mission of the organization.

Principles of Process Management:

A process is a set of activities that develop in a particular sequence allowing to obtain products or outputs from one input or raw materials.

Industrial processes can be (in the incoming and outgoing materials) or management (in which information enters and leaves).

  • Processes exist in any organization but have never been identified and defined: the processes are what we do and how we do it.
  • In an organization, almost any activity or task can be framed in a process.
  • There processes without a product or service.
  • There client without a product and / or service.
  • There product / service without a trial.

Process management involves:

  • A coherent structure of processes that represents the functioning of the organization
  • A system of indicators to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of processes from both a domestic perspective (performance indicators) and external (perception indicators).
  • A designation of process, which should monitor and improve compliance with all requirements and objectives of assigned process (costs, quality, productivity, environmental, safety and occupational health, morale)

When you define and analyze a process, it is necessary to investigate all opportunities for simplification and improvement. It is therefore worth bearing in mind the following criteria:

  • Should eliminate all superfluous activities that do not add value.
  • The details of the processes are important because they determine the consumption of resources, compliance with specifications, in short: efficiency of processes. The quality and productivity require attention to detail.
  • You can not improve a process without data. Therefore: are necessary indicators to review the effectiveness and efficiency of processes (at least for the key processes and strategic).
  • Causes of problems are attributable to the processes always, never to individuals.
  • Dynamics of process improvement, there are two distinct phases: the stabilization and improvement of the process. The stabilization is to standardize the process so as to reach a state of control, in which the variability is known and can be controlled. The improvement is to reduce process variability margins and / or improve their levels of effectiveness and efficiency.

The analysis and definition of processes is:

  • Establish an evaluation scheme of the organization as a whole (defining process indicators).
  • Understand the cause-effect problems in an organization and therefore tackle the problem at its root.
  • Defining the responsibilities of a simple and direct (assigning responsibility for process and activity).
  • Internal communication and encourage participation in management.
  • Avoid "departmentalization" of the company.
  • Facilitate Continuous Improvement (Change Management).
  • Simplify documentation management systems (since by convention we can describe a process in a single procedure)
  • Avoid wastage of all kinds:
    • Of excess processing capacity
    • Carrying And movements
    • Downtime
    • Unnecessary inventory
    • From Space
    • Of activities that do not add value
    • Quality failures
    • From knowledge
  • Facilitate the integration of different management systems

The processes of an organization may be affected by various legal requirements and / or regulatory, customer, internal and external environment, quality, safety, environment, productivity, ... new requirements may arise or be changed today, but the structure of processes need not be changed.


It is appropriate to clarify certain concepts before getting into the details of process management. The following is a glossary of related terms. Some definitions are set reflected in ISO 9000:2000.


Each of the elements on which a process can be broken down. The activities in turn can be broken down into tasks.


Extension in which the activities are planned and planned results are achieved (ISO 9000:2000, 3.2.14)


Relationship between the result achieved and the resources used (ISO 9000:2000, 3.2.15)


Parameter that allows a quantitative assessment of the efficacy and / or efficiency of processes. Indicators can measure the customer perception about the results (indicators of perception) or intrinsic to the process variables (performance indicators). It is recommended that the organization establish performance indicators and / or at least perception of their key strategic processes.


Documented description of an activity or task. Macroproceso: Set of interrelated processes with a common general purpose.

Process Map:

Chart that identifies the processes of an organization and describe their main interrelations.


Statement which describes the raison d'être of an organization. "What we are." The description of the mission should include, as appropriate, to answer the following questions:

  • What to do or produce the organization? (products and / or services)
  • What or who is? (Customers)
  • How do you propose to do? (basic processes)
  • Where does? (organizational reach and / or geographical)
  • Suppliers? (If they are essential to the achievement of the mission)

Specified form to conduct an activity or process (ISO 9000:2000, 3.4.5) Process: A set of interrelated activities that interact, which transforms inputs into outputs (ISO 9000:2000, 3.4.1 )


Result of a Process (ISO 9000:2000, 3.4.2)


Document stating results achieved or providing evidence of activities performed (ISO 9000:2000, 3.7.6)


Set of interrelated elements or interacting (ISO 9000:2000, 3.2.1) Management System: System to establish policy and objectives and to achieve those objectives (ISO 9000:2000, 3.2.2) Vision: Statement that describes the desired future situation of an organization. "What we want to be" or "I want to be seen" within a period of time.


Set of behaviors, attitudes, beliefs and styles adopted in an organization. Elements of the culture of an organization.

Process Modeling

A model is a representation of a system.

Systems may consist of various interrelated elements such as people, equipment, products, tasks, materials, documentation, software, hardware, etc.. A model describes what the system, how it works, how it is controlled, and what it produces.

The models are developed in order to understand, analyze, improve or replace a system. An adequate model must enable:

  • Improving the design of systems
  • Facilitate the integration of new systems or improving existing ones.
  • Serve as reference material for the understanding of systems
  • Facilitate communication between persons involved in the design and operation of systems

The development of a model that offers these benefits requires a method of representing specific, consistent, fast, simple and flexible. The conventional language (spoken or written) has certain limitations and drawbacks in the representation of systems. An example of this traditional quality procedures "encyclopedic" written by literal narratives.

Process modeling techniques:


During the 70s, the USAF (Air Force U.S.) discussed a project called ICAM (Integrated Computer Aided Manufacturing) to increase productivity through the systematic application of computerized means. This project required the establishment of a language model for analysis and information exchange systems that are intended to develop: IDEF0 (Integration DEFinition language 0).

The result of applying IDEF0 to a system methodology is a hierarchical set of diagrams which are cross-referenced a schematic model of it. Beginning with the main process is divided into sub-processes and these activities to the degree of detail required (increasing the level of detail in subsequent charts). Each diagram contains boxes listed with text and arrows that relate. The diagrams are drawn on standardized sheets. The complex activities can be broken down and described in diagrams "son" in successive falls to the level of detail desired. The arrows represent the relationship between the boxes. There are reports of temporal or sequential development, but to describe the inputs and outputs of each box and restrictions governing the operation of the system.

Each "box" in a diagram is the source or output arrows representing:

  • Input data: data needed by the activity and transformed into output data.
  • Output Data: Data or information created by the activity.
  • Control Data: Data to control the activity. There are transformed into output data.
  • Mechanism: Resource requirements.

Each "box" is encoded with the code of the diagram which contains a serial number followed. Top Level Diagram (Diagram A-0 "A minus zero")

Any model should include an initial diagram that represents the overall system with a single box that describes all the inputs and outputs beyond the limits of the system. This diagram will typically include a description of the purpose and scope of the system. The code in the box of this diagram is only A0. This case is detailed in the child diagram below this level, called A0. Top Level Diagram shown (Diagram A0)

In this diagram, are displayed macro system. IDEF0 terminology in this diagram is a "son" of the former. Diagrams PadreTodo diagram that includes some "box" which is described in another lower-level diagram diagram is called father. The lower-level diagram describing that activity is a "son" of the former. The "boxes" which are described in a lower level diagram are identified by a code called "ERD" (Detail Reference Expression). Diagrams Son

Diagrams child can have 3 to 6 boxes. The lower limit of 3 boxes, implies a greater degree of definition of the activities. The upper limit of 6 boxes by force diagram of the hierarchical model.

IDEF0 Advantages:
  • Is a systematic tool that requires the maintenance of a hierarchy of relationships between activities / functions described.
  • Facilitates a thorough analysis of the inputs and outputs, and control elements and resources of each activity.
  • Is very suitable in the design of complex and dynamic systems.
  • Some software packages incorporate drawing templates and utilities to draw this type of graphics (eg Micrografx iGrafx Process)
Disadvantages of IDEF0 Methodology:
  • Enforcement of the rules of IDEF0 modeling sometimes leads to excessive complexity in the hierarchy and representation of processes.
  • It is too laborious management systems
  • Not easy to define responsibilities
  • Can not distinguish or make reference to documents of the system (control plans, registration forms, specifications, instructions, external documents, etc..)
  • Is required to maintain application specific computer coding, structure and coherence of the model being designed for any possible changes.
  • Requires extensive training and experience of both the person who produces as it interprets the
  • Hard to follow, not recommended as descriptive documentary support of a management system.
  • Bounded on the symbolism: the only symbol used is a rectangular box representing an activity or function.

A flowchart is a graphical representation of the sequence of activities that form a process. Flow charts are useful at various stages of system development (design, implementation, revision).

The following describes a method for identifying and defining the processes of a management system using the flowcharts. In this method there are two distinct phases:

  1. Development Process Map
  2. description of each process
1. Development of Process Map

This diagram provides an overview of the management system. In it, you represent the processes that make up the system and its main relationships. These relations are indicated by arrows and records representing information flows.

The number of processes a system can be variable depending on the focus of the person who is analyzing or designing the system. To understand the meaning and importance of a Process Map, we can make use of the analogy of a puzzle.

Process Map image is like a puzzle: not altered by the shape or size of the pieces that form it. Thus the same image can be built with a puzzle of 20 pieces or 200 pieces. A single management system can be represented by processes (puzzle pieces) more or less size.

The size of processes (components) does not affect the system. The only limitation is that the processes (pieces) fit perfectly (without overlaps or gaps) and that different processes are similar in size to each other.

With very few processes, the process map will be brief and easy to understand but the individual description of each process will be more complex.

By contrast, identifying many processes, the individual description of each process will be simpler, however, the map will be more complex processes. The optimal solution will be found somewhere in between.

When identify processes must also take into account that each process, by convention, is described in a single process, so that the process structure provides both the structure of system documentation.

Another factor to consider when establishing the number of processes that make up the system is the existing organizational structure. Processes can stick to the scope of a department or function (intra-departmental) or may exceed this area (interdepartmental).

When defining the process structure, it is advisable to choose a size that allows processes to find a single person responsible for each process. Experience tells us that for example, in an integrated system of quality, environment and prevention of SMEs, the total number of processes (strategic, key and support) must be between 20 and 30. If the number of processes exceeds 20, it is advisable to group them into macro.

Is recommended to include in the map records establish the relationships between processes connected with arrows that describe the flow. The records define the input and output information and help to define more clearly the scope of each process (ie, its beginning and end).

Also want to include in the map associated documents such as control plans, specifications and instructions. If the map is very complex, it is desirable to develop a simplified version, which contained only the interrelationships between the processes by arrows, but no records indicate nor the associated documents.

You should write at the command of each of the processes of map code (serial number), title and person in charge of each process.

For defining macro, the code consists of the process macroprocess code followed by a sequential number. It is very useful in the coloring process to distinguish Process Map or grouped by various criteria.

Integrated systems, for example, colors can be used to differentiate the scope of processes (quality, environment, prevention of occupational hazards, or a combination thereof). In non-integrated systems, processes differentiate colors depending on which macroprocess cover. The colors also distinguish the degree of development and implementation of each management system processes.

The definition of Process Map should be established by consensus of the entire management team. It is therefore advisable to use the Affinity Diagram technique.

It is appropriate to review and possibly update the map once processes have been described all the procedures as outlined in the following paragraph.

2. Description of each process

By convention, each process is described in a single procedure that includes the process flow diagram. To better understand the flow charts and define with greater precision and clarity of processes, it is recommended that the process includes the following sections:

  • Header
  • Object
  • Scope
  • Responsible Process
  • records
  • Signatures

Procedure Header

The header contains general information identifying the document (logo of the organization, procedure code, title, version, date)

Coding procedures were performed by two digits (the same ones denote the process in the Process Map)

Eg 01: First Quality system procedure.

The instructions are encoded with the same procedure code to develop followed by the letter "I" and a two-digit serial number.

Eg 02-I01: First investigation of the case number 2.

Control plans are encoded with the procedure code from which they originated, followed by the letter "P" and a two-digit serial number.

Specifications are encoded just as the instructions and control plans, but with the letter "E". Registration forms are coded according to the procedure code or instruction that generate, followed by a two-digit serial number.

Ex: 01-01: Format 1 of the procedure 01.Ej.: 02-I01-01: Format 1 of the instruction 01 of procedure 2.

Records format will not require a code.


The object is the description of the rationale of the process.

Object tells us summarize the process which seeks the reason for their existence. It can also be called "mission" of the process.


Reach is the functional area that encompasses the process. It is advisable to define the scope of each process is twofold:

  1. Exposing the set of products or services that affect the process ( "The process is applicable to materials and services ... .")
  2. Indicating Where it starts and ends the process in relation to other processes ( "This process begins with the receipt of .... and ends with the issuance of ... .")


The sequence of activities that constitute the process. It is represented graphically by a flow diagram in which arrows indicate the sequence of activities and information flow.

Specific symbols to distinguish in the flow chart activities, records, decisions or other related documents (instructions, specifications, control plans, etc. .).

Head of Process:

Process Manager is the person who ensures compliance with all requirements thereof. Keeps track of process indicators, verifying their effectiveness and efficiency and the achievement of the objectives defined for this process in any of the fields of management (productivity, costs, quality, safety, environment, ...).

Has full authority to make any changes to the process with the resources provided. If such a change may influence other processes, you should consult with the heads of the processes involved.


Records are documents stating results achieved or providing evidence of activities performed (ISO 9000:2000, 3.7.6).

Records constitute the backbone of the information that flows into the management system.

  • Records can be internal (generated within the organization) or external (customer or supplier). The internal registers, usually have a defined and controlled format. The external records (eg a sales order) have a defined format and therefore does not require an identity code of the format.
  • Records can be computerized or on paper
  • A record can be archived for a time determined by a prescribed period or until that record is no longer to be useful.

It is advisable to include in each case a list of all records of departure from that procedure, it facilitates understanding of the flow chart and control of those records. Registration forms are handled internally as individual documents. It is not advisable to attach procedures.


ISO 9000 and virtually all management rules for quality management, safety and environmental require the formal approval documents from the system. Such approval may be evidenced by signing an original signature or a supplementary registration document approval. It also supports electronic signature of documents.

Criteria for drawing a Process Flow Diagrams
  1. Activities
    • The first activity of each process is often connected to another process through any previous record.
    • Some processes are not initiated by a previous process but by a "trigger" (an event that triggers an activity). Eg A detonator of the care process of receiving orders is an order. A detonator of care complaints process is the receipt of a complaint.
    • Most activities are complete, connected to subsequent processes.
    • An activity may encompass different tasks. In the activity box will briefly describe the tasks involved. If the tasks of an activity are numerous and / or complex, the cell activity would be too big, so it is recommended to describe this activity in a statement. Each activity box should indicate a charge of carrying out this activity (indicate responsible office in capitals at the end of the activity box)
    • If the tasks of an activity are developed by different people: consider separating different activities in one box for each charge.
    • If an activity leaves more than a record, consider the appropriateness of dividing the activity in several activities, one for each record.
    • The boxes should be drawn as possible aligned both vertically and horizontally.
    • All cells should be vertically aligned with similar width.
  2. Arrows
    • Each arrow represents the flow of information (data or log) or material.
    • Avoid crossing

    • Arrows as far as possible
    • The arrows should be drawn from top to bottom and from left to right (except loops)
    • Avoid

    • Oblique drawing arrows.
    • Tickets to the activities of other activities preceding the same process shows up and down (so the sequence of activities is arranged vertically from top to bottom).
    • Tickets to activities from other processes are indicated from left to right.
  3. Records
    • If a record comes out of an activity to enter another instant, is situated in the middle of the two activities connected by arrows.
    • Between two processes, usually included at least one record, through which information is transmitted
  4. Associated Documents
    • The control plans, instructions, specifications or other associated documents will be reflected as inputs to the left of the activities that are used as reference.
Domingo Rey Peteiro
© Domingo Rey Peteiro
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