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Process Modeling in Software Development


Process modeling is an analytical procedure to breakdown work processes to improve their efficiency. Read about the importance of process modeling in business and software development


Process Modeling

Process analysis is the rational segmentation of business processes into different phases to understand them and look for ways to improve their overall efficiency. It refers to their full-fledged analysis, which also includes a series of logically articulated routine tasks that utilize organizational resources to transform a work process with the aim of benefiting the process and maintaining its excellence.

In various software engineering methods, the approach taken for requirement engineering often includes comprehensive modeling of distinct aspects such as data, system structure, or behavior. These models are the basis from which system design and implementation are contrived in the later stages of the development process and are the flagship mode of communication between expert users and system developers.

Because requirement specifications' quality is a determining factor for correction costs and software quality, a huge chunk of the effort is dedicated to system modeling in software development's early stages. It is for these reasons that organizations often set down process models describing the workflows or processes of a business in a graphic format to accomplish a specific goal.

What Is a Process Model?

What is Process Model
Process models are usually set down through different graphing methods and are normally utilized to examine and represent a range of activities that occur periodically and on a regular basis. They can and are used to model the workflow between departments and people, or the flow of activities in an application or a system. These models have a set beginning and end, desired goal, structure of activities, and variable results based on the decisions taken through the process's course.

Software Process Modeling and Types of Software Process Models

Software Process Modeling
Software process modeling is used to provide a simpler representation of a software process. Each model represents a process from a specific perspective. In any organization, software processes range according to the needs of a specific group or project. The basis of the software development process depends upon SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) models. In order to help organizations achieve their required objectives fairly easily, there have been many developments with respect to life cycle models. The most important and popular of them are:
  • Waterfall model
  • V model
  • Incremental model
  • Iterative model
  • RAD model
  • Spiral model
  • Agile model
  1. Waterfall Model
    The waterfall model involves breaking project activities down into a sequence of linear phases where each phase is dependent upon the deliverables of the previous one.
    Waterfall Model
  2. V Model
    The V-model is considered by many as an extension of the waterfall model and includes bending the process steps upwards after the coding phase instead of moving downwards in a linear way. It represents the relationships between each developmental phase.
  3. Incremental Model
    In the incremental model, the model undergoes gradual designing, implementation, and testing in incremental phases until the product is finished. The product is finished when it meets all its requirements.
  4. Iterative Model
    In stark contrast to the other models, the iterative model doesn't start with a given set of specifications of requirements. In other words, this process model begins by defining and executing just a part of the software, which is then evaluated and prioritized accordingly.
    Iterative Process Model
  5. RAD Model
    Rapid application development (RAD) is an incremental software development prototyping approach that places less importance on planning as compared to adaptive processes.
  6. Spiral Model
    A risk-driven software development process model, the spiral model, resembles a spiral with numerous loops. The number of loops in the spiral is undefined and varies from project to project. The spiral's loops are called a "Phase," and the number of these phases required to build the product can be decided by the PM after looking at project risks.
  7. Agile Model
    The Agile model brings an alternative to conventional project management and is usually operated in small and rapid cycles, resulting in frequent incremental releases. Here, each release builds on its last functionality, and testing is done to uphold software quality.
    Agile Process Model

Business Process Modeling

Business process modeling is used to map:
  • The as-is state; the state of the process currently without any improvements
  • The to-be state, the future state that results after making the necessary improvements
Business process modeling is used to represent business processes graphically to recognize potential improvement or weak areas. Dealing specifically with low-level process maps, the main purpose of business process modeling is process improvement. Despite being extremely useful in concept, it is not typically used as a standalone procedure.

Tools & Techniques of Business Process Models

Business Process Modeling
Typically used to map workflows to understand, evaluate, and make positive changes to it, business process modeling is used to help you visualize these processes with the usage of diagrams so that you can make better decisions. There are over 12 different techniques to carry out BP modeling, and they are:
  • Business process modeling notation (BPMN)
  • UML diagrams
  • Flowchart technique
  • Data flow diagrams
  • Role activity diagrams
  • Role interaction diagrams
  • Gantt charts
  • Integrated definition for function modeling
  • Colored Petri-nets
  • Object-oriented methods
  • Workflow technique
  • Simulation model
  1. Business process modeling notation (BPMN)
    The BPMN uses a set of graphical objects and rules that define available connections between them to illustrate a graphic representation of business processes. It consists of flow objects, connecting objects, swimlanes, and artifacts.
  2. UML Diagrams
    A modeling language, UML is typically used for visualizations, specification, and documentation of software systems.
  3. Flowchart technique
    This technique utilizes a sequential flow of actions and does not support activity breakdown.
  4. Data Flow Diagrams
    DFDs are utilized to catalog the analyzed processes as the design documentation's part.
  5. Role Activity Diagrams
    Role activity diagrams offer a distinct perspective of the business process and are especially convenient in supporting communication.
  6. Role Interaction Diagrams
    While a shade more sophisticated than flow diagrams, RIDs are fairly intuitive and easy to understand; however, they can be really, with many arrows pointing right and left.
    Role Interaction Diagram
  7. GANTT Charts
    A matrix listing the activities or tasks on the vertical axis, the GANTT chart is a fairly easy business process model. Its rows contain single activity identification, while the columns indicate the estimated duration of the activity.
  8. IDEF
    A family of methods used to support paradigms capable of addressing an enterprise's modeling and business areas. In BPM, the most used parts are IDEF0 and IDEF3.
    IDEF Process Model
  9. Colored Petri-Nets
    A type of graphical aligned language for specification, design, simulation, and system verification, colored Petri-nets are very well suited for systems containing a large number of processes.
    Colored Petri-nets Process Model
  10. Object-Oriented Methods
    Based on three concepts, this method makes use of objects that represent a real entity. Each object has a state in which it may exist in the form of the values of the properties. The change in behavior reflects state changes. These states can change as a result of a change in behavior when the object receives a message. These messages are then deciphered to reveal requests for the receiver objects to implement the requested method.
  11. Workflow Technique
    A flow of tasks between computer applications, the workflow technique helps two or more people of a group to achieve a common goal by defining it and allows the addition of any task performed in parallel or in series.
  12. Simulation Model
    This model is especially useful when you want to study a complex system. You can begin by building and studying another entity, aka the simulation model, which is superficially close to the real-world system.

Elements of Using Process Models

Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN)
Of the 12 techniques described above, BMPN is the most popular and is used by project managers everywhere to conduct business process modeling. The Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) uses a flow chart method that represents planned business process steps. It has four element types for business process diagrams, namely:
  • Flow objects: gateways, activities, events
  • Connecting objects: association, message flow, sequence flow
  • Swimlanes: lane or pool
  • Artifacts: group, data object, annotation
Furthermore, there are eight elements that are used to define a business process.
  1. Gateways
    A gateway is a decision point that, based on events or conditions, readjusts the. It's represented as a diamond.
  2. Activity
    An activity is a task performed by a system or a person. It's represented by a rectangle with rounded corners and can be detailed more with loops, sub-processes, multiple instances, and compensations.
  3. Events
    An event is a trigger that is used to start, modify, or complete a process. Its types include a timer, message, error, signal, compensation, escalation, cancel, link, and others. They are depicted by circles that further contain other symbols based on the type of the event.
  4. Association
    Association is represented with the help of a dotted line and associates a text or an artifact to an activity, event, or gateway.
  5. Message Flow
    The message flow shows messages flowing across "pools," or departmental boundaries. It is represented by a dashed line and should not link activities or events within a pool.
  6. Sequence Flow
    The sequence flow is represented by a forward-facing arrow and is used to shows the order of the activities to be performed.
  7. Pool and Swimlane
    A pool depicts the major constituents of a process, while swimlanes show the events or activities for a certain participant or role.
  8. Artifact
    An artifact is any extra information developers add to provide the necessary detail to the diagram. It has three types, namely group, data object, and annotation.

Benefits of Using a Process Model

Process modeling has really come into its own over the course of the last few decades and has buoyed organizational efficiency tremendously. From helping align operations with business or development strategy to improving process communication, process modeling eases a lot of the roadblocks that wasted hours away earlier. It helps businesses increase their control and consistency by improving the efficiency of connecting activities in the provision of a service or a product to gain a competitive business advantage.
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