Defining a process

A good definition of a process is the most important step towards an efficient process structure. Before a process can be described it is essential for an organization to reflect on the necessary information to manage and control a process. So before you start visualizing and modelling we first start to define what the process is about using 8 simple process elements.

This process management approach is developed by Sensus process management 

  • What am I going to do?
  • Define your own process structure
  • Map objectives clearly
  • Make a good inventory of all risks
  • Measure.

Explanation of the BPM process definition elements


Why do we have this process? What is its added value? Who am I doing it for? The description of the objective often encompasses the result of the process.Explanation: The objective of the process indicates the reason why the process takes place. Relating the objective of the process to the objectives of the company guarantees the added value of the process.Example: Recruitment & selection process: ensuring the influx of sufficiently qualified staff, within the boundaries set by the company’s staff budget.

Customer / Supplier:

For whom is the product or service created (who purchases it, who uses it)? Supplier: Who is responsible for creating the service/product and output? A customer can also be an internal party, an internal customer. Explanation Customer: The process basically revolves around the customer. Each activity must add value to the result the customer requires. Supplier: Is the party that delivers the result, i.e. the party responsible for the end product or service.

Example Customer:

  • In the case of local authorities, its customers will often be residents
  • In the case of a production company, the customer is the buyer of, for example, the chair
  • Internally, the customer can be a department head or, for example, the HRM department as a whole.


  • Head of the Training & Consultancy department
  • Software development team leader.

Input / Output:

Input: The thing or event that triggers the process.

Output: The result (the product/service) produced by the process.

Sometimes the output of one process is used as input for the next. Explanation Input is something that is transformed, consumed, used or processed. What is it that triggers the process? Output is the tangible product or service that is delivered at the end of the process. Example Input: Phone call, request, alert, complaint. Output: A product, such as a chair, forklift truck, etc. Or a service, such as an insurance policy, permit, supplying a temp, etc.


Tools are the things (machines, accommodation, etc.) needed to be able to execute the process. Explanation: What tools are used during the process? What machines, documents, software, and other facilities (accommodation, equipment) do the actors use in carrying out their activities as part of a process?


  • Personal protective equipment
  • Specific machines or software applications
  • Raw materials.


Who is responsible for (owner of) the process and who is involved in the process? The process owner is the person responsible for optimum definition, functioning and adjustment of processes.

Explanation: A number of the activities that make up a process are performed by people. These people are considered to be actors with a specific role. The assignment of tasks, authorisations and responsibilities to these actors is a crucial factor in ensuring the effectiveness and efficiency of a process.

Example: In principle, any employee can be involved in or responsible for a process. For example, Customer Relations Manager, Production Manager, Team Leader or Secretary.


All preconditions, requirements (standards), plans and policy documents that play a part in controlling the process. Explanation: Many processes are subject to legislation and regulations or standards. These come into play in the control and definition of a process. Internal company policy or guidelines can also impact on the process.


  • Quality criteria
  • ISO standards
  • Regulations
  • Permits

Risks / Measures:

Risk is the possibility of an event taking place, multiplied by the consequences of that event. Measures are the steps taken to mitigate risks.

Explanation: Processes may come with risks. Identifying the risks associated with a process is an integral part of defining that process, as is listing measures that can be taken to mitigate those risks.

Example: A bank that issues a loan exposes itself to risk. Needless to say, the bank factors in such risk, because a certain percentage of loans does entail risk. The costs of such risky loans are estimated and subsequently reflected in the price of the loan, i.e. the interest rate.


Performance indicators are units of measurements, such as turnaround times, deadlines, minimum results achieved, etc.

Explanation: A measurable unit that provides information regarding the functioning of a specific process, and the extent to which set objectives are achieved. Every objective must meet the SMART criteria.

SMART = Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely.

Example: Invoice processing, including approval, must not take more than 2 days. KPI: maximum turnaround time of 2 days. Average sickness absence for the full year 2012 must not exceed 3%. KPI: absence rate for 2012 below or equal to 3%.

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