Part III: Our Insight and Advice on Business Processes: Recommendations

(initially published on EFA on March 31, 2011, as “Our Insight and Advice on Business Processes”, republished here, as the third of a four-part series;  part of the retrospective Above Average: The Best of Escape from Averageness, 2009-2012)


As for book recommendations, there is no single, comprehensive reference or guide to all of the areas of process improvement and documentation.  At SAI, much of what we know, we learned by doing, by seeing what worked – and what did not work – in the real world.

Having said all of that, here are my book recommendations:

For processes generally, I still think Business Process Improvement (Harrington) and Beyond Reengineering (Hammer) are the best.  Although there is a newer handbook, Harrington is now dated because of its TQM approach, but it is a process classic.  Hammer, although also dated, still has the best understanding of enterprise-level processes, if you set aside the focus on reengineering.

Depending on your level of experience and expertise, you might also pick up The Horizontal Organization (Ostroff) or Process Redesign (Tonner, DeToro).  They are not great books, but they can help, if you are new to process improvement.

For process mapping, I recommend The Basics of Process Mapping (Damelio), Process Mapping: How to Reengineer Your Business Processes (Hunt), Workflow Modeling (Sharp, McDermott), Process Mapping, Process Improvement, and Process Management (Madison), and BPMN Method and Style (Silver).  Damelio covers very basic flowcharting, Hunt covers IDEF0 process modeling, Sharp has more of an IT and project perspective, and is better on implementation issues, Madison is a good practical guide in all three areas in its title, while Silver does a nice job of explaining BPMN as an emerging standard.

Somewhere in between are books like Improving Performance: Managing the White Space on the Organization Chart (Rummler, Brache), Cycle Time Reduction (Harbour), and Fast Cycle Time (Meyer).  These books tend to focus on both processes and process mapping, but usually in the context of their own views and methods on areas like strategy and change management.  They are older books.

Almost every book ever written about process design, analysis, and documentation is in the SAI library, including all of the ones that I recommended.  I have personally read all of them.  There are some newer books that I have not had a chance to read.  The recommendations are not a comprehensive list, nor are they the only worthwhile reading on the subject, but I do think it is a good starting point. In any event, they are the best recommendations I can offer.

As far as process software, we use and recommend the iGrafx ( suite of process applications.  We are an iGrafx Consulting Partner, not a reseller.  iGrafx applications support a wide range of process methodology, including basic flowcharting, cross-functional flowcharting, BPMN, IDEF0 process modeling, Six-Sigma (SIPOC) process documentation, Lean Six Sigma, and Lean Value Stream Mapping (VSM).


Next:  Part IV:  Final Suggestions