Business functions and business processes represent what the enterprise ought to be doing. Business procedure defines how the enterprise ought to do this.

Each step in a processes is a function. Similarly, each step in a procedure will be a mechanism – a mechanism is the means by which a function is executed.

example: suppose we have a business function called ‘accept customer order’. This can be done in several ways, for example, by phone, by fax, by e-mail or by snail mail. Each of these methods represents a mechanism for executing the function “accept a customer order”.

The linking together of these mechanisms in a logical and predetermined way gives us a business procedure.

A common way for representing a procedure is the flow chart.

A procedure, like a process, should have a least one trigger and at least one preferred outcome. It can also have one or more non-preferred outcomes. These are controlled and acceptable, though not the preferred, business outcomes for the procedure.

It is a common error to confuse process with procedure and vice versa. Much of the so-called “process modelling” software on the market is, in fact, only suitable for modelling procedure.

The simple rule to remember in order to avoid this confusion is:

process models show the order in which business functions are carried out – they are all about what the enterprise ought to be doing.
procedure models show the detail of how process are executed.

work instructions

procedures are all about the order in which things should be done. The detailed actions for each step in a procedure are usually called work instructions.

Detailed work instructions will define the who, what, when, where, skills, resources and constraints for each step in a procedure.

Procedure modeling is an essential modeling technique to have in business systems modeling, business process modeling and bpm.

However, it is a secondary modelling technique and should never be used as the main means of modelling an enterprise.


John J Owens – John is an inspirational business entrepreneur with a unique talent for seeing the simplicity and elegance underlying any enterprise – even if it is hidden …
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Business process modelling