Business Process Modelling

12 min

Business Processes are defined and modelled in the Business Logical and Physical Layers of the Essential Meta Model. This tutorial takes you through how Business Processes are defined and modelled.

Before you start

Before you start any modelling you need to understand the purpose of your modelling as this will dictate the level to which you need to model. For the purposes of Enterprise Architecture, you do not usually need to model Business Processes to a detailed flow level; a simple definition will be enough to allow you to understand the key areas that are important for your EA such as:

  • Is this a standard or non-standard process?
  • What organisation(s) completes this process?
  • What Business Capability(s) does it support?
  • What Application(s) does it use – and for what purpose (Application Service)?
  • What Information is required?

You only need to capture to a detailed flow level if you do not already have any visibility of the process flow, you do not have a business process modelling tool or you need a more detailed understanding of, for example, different applications that are used at each step of the process.

If required, you can also identify and add the ‘Event’ that initiates the Process, or the Event(s) that is the outcome of the Process. If you do want to include them it is a good idea to identify first what the Events are and ensure they are added to your repository.

TIP: If you do not already have your business processes captured somewhere it is a good idea to capture them on an area by area basis, starting with either the area of greatest need or the area where you have a good relationship with the business representative!

Essential and Process Modelling

In Essential you define your Business Processes in the Logical Layer. When you then capture the Organisation that performs the process it also creates a Physical Business Process. An Organisation is captured using the Group Actor class in the Physical Layer.

If you have two organisations that perform the same process you can map both Organisations to the logical process and it will create two physical processes connected to the one logical process. You should do this when the process is carried out in the same way.

If you have two organisations that both complete a process, but in different ways, you need to create two logical processes. This is important as it then allows you to understand where you have differences in your processes. You may, for example, have two organisations that both complete the Manage Payroll process but if, for example, for legal reasons, they both follow different steps you must create two logical processes and map the organisations to the individual process that they follow. If, however, they both complete it in exactly the same way you can map both to the one logical process.

This level of granularity will give you the level of detail required to support your decision making. If, for example, you are looking at where you can rationalise your applications, you need to know where there are differences in the process so you can ensure both can be supported.

TIP: If you have the same process performed in different ways by different organisations we would recommend naming the process – for example, Manage Payroll – UK. As a general rule Business Processes should be named Verb/Noun, i.e. Manage Credit while Business Capabilities should be named Noun/Verb, i.e. Credit Management.

You can also use the business process family class to understand where you have non-standard processes in your organisation. In the example above you could, for example, create a Business Process Family for Manage Payroll and then you can see how many logical processes exist and how many organisations perform each of those processes; see the example below:

TIP: The video shows creating the processes and organisations as you go along. You may find it easier to create your organisations before you start creating your processes. This makes it easier to add your organisation’s hierarchy as well. Organisations are captured using the Group Actor class in the Physical Layer.

The key relationships in the Logical Business Processes are: – Business Capability supported – Information Views used – Performing Organisation (Group Actor – creates a Physical Process) – Standardisation Level – Performing and/or Owning Role – Supporting Application Services Business Process Flow

The key relationships in the Physical Process (i.e. Logical Process performed by Organisation) are: – Supporting Information (Information required by the process and provided by an application) – Supporting Application Provider Role (Application providing an Application Service)

The Logical Process maps to the Application Service(s) it requires but not to the actual application. This is because a different application could support the same process for a different organisation. It is at the Physical Process level that you model the application used, and you also model what it is used for, i.e. the Application Service – in Essential we call this an Application Provider Role. The process links to the app via the provider role, not directly.

Business Process Capture

Although Essential allows you to capture a lot of information about a Business Process and its links to IT, you may not have all the information initially. You should concentrate on capturing only what you need for the current objective – additional detail can be added later as required.

TIP: Only enter what you need to get the Views you need to work – don’t enter information for the sake of it. If it will not support your decision making don’t capture it.

Usually, you will capture the logical business process and the capability it supports. It is also useful to capture the standardisation level. You can then add the organisation(s) that is performing the process to add the physical process. It is useful to capture the process family if you have more than one way of performing a given process. See the business process video above for how.

You can capture the Application Services required to support a logical process and the applications that provide that service against a physical process.

Creating a Business Process Model / Defining Business Process Flow

If you need to define process flows in Essential then the following video shows how to do this (note Essential Cloud and Open Source look a little different but the approach is the same)

A key thing to note is that you should always use the start and end elements to make it clear to the model which are the first and last steps of the process flow.


You can break down process models by defining activities and tasks within the process and modelling these in the Business Activity flow.

Adding a logical process and creating a physical implementation of that process.

Updated 22 January 2024

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