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Organizations can be thought of as a collection of processes that govern how work is done and how goals are achieved. Processes are critical to the success of an organization, and it is important to have a deep understanding of how they work in order to improve them. Process modeling is a practice aimed at improving process understanding. Despite differences, the terms “Process Modeling”, “Process Mapping”, and “Process Drawing” are often used interchangeably. In this post, I summarize each term and explain the differences and relations among them. 

Process Modeling 

Process modeling is the overall creation of a visual representation of a business process. It involves analyzing, designing, and documenting the steps and activities that make up a process, and how they relate to each other. The goal of process modeling is to create a clear and accurate representation of the process, which can be used for improvement, automation, or other purposes. A process model typically describes the flow of inputs, activities, and outputs of a process, and it may also include information about roles, responsibilities, and resources involved in the process. There are different methods and tools available for process modeling such as flowcharting, Business Process Modeling & Notation (BPMN), Event-driven Process Chain (EPC), and others. There are various perspectives in process modeling, which relate to different purposes and levels of detail that ranges from data and function-centric modeling to organizational modeling. A few examples of such perspectives are as follows: 

  1. Holistic process modeling provides a broad overview of a process including the main activities but is not detailed with information such as data flows. It can be used for general communication and coordination purposes 

  2. Detailed process modeling that provides a more in-depth representation of a process that can be used for automation purposes as well as process analysis and optimization 

  3. Data flow modeling provides the flow of data within a process, showing how data is transformed, stored, and moved between different steps in a process. Data flow models are often used for identifying potential issues with data integrity or security in a process.  

Process Mapping 

Process mapping is a specific technique used for modeling and creating visual representations of processes. It involves creating a flowchart or diagram that shows the steps in a process, and how they relate to each other. Process mapping is a useful tool for understanding and analyzing a process, as it allows people to see it in a clear and structured way. It can also be used to identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and areas for improvement in a process. Read more about process mapping here. 

How process mapping and modeling notations such as BPMN 2.0 relate to each other? 

Modeling notations such as Unified Modeling Language (UML) and BPMN are specific notations/languages for modeling processes. BPMN 2.0, for instance, is a standard widely used in different industries for creating process models. It provides a set of graphical elements and notation to describe the flow of activities, events, data, rules, and guidelines for creating process models. Process mapping is a general technique while modeling languages such as BPMN are specific notations used for modeling processes. You can use BPMN as a method for process mapping, but it is not the only one. 

What is the role of process drawing in modeling? 

Process drawing and modeling are not equal, because a drawing does not create a semantic representation of a process. Process drawing is the act of creating process maps, which are visual representations of processes, showing the flow of activities and information, and the relationship between them. The process drawing enables the process modeler to represent the process steps and flow, inputs, outputs, roles, responsibilities, and resources involved in the process. Process modelers can then leverage modeling tools such as SAP Signavio to bring semantics into the process models. 

SAP Signavio Process Manager, a sophisticated tool for process modeling 

SAP Signavio Process Manager is a cloud-based, easy-to-use, and collaborative platform for creating, analyzing, and optimizing business processes. SAP Signavio Process Manager enables process modeling by providing a range of modeling notations such as BPMN and value chain diagrams that can be linked to a data layer of objects that are reused in process model attributes. 

SAP Signavio Process Manager helps users to: 

  • Create process models using different notations such as BPMN and leveraging data stored in a taxonomy manager. 

SAP Signavio Process Manager - Modeling Editor

  • Include process semantics using objects documented in the Dictionary within process attributes and graphical models 

SAP Signavio Process Manager - Dictionary

  • Analyze processes using a range of analytical capabilities such as process simulation, process cost analysis, resource consumption, and process comparison. This allows users to identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and areas for improvement in a process. 

SAP Signavio Process Manager - Simulation

  • Collaborate on process modeling by enabling users to share, invite, and comment on process models while managing process versions and integrating with process approval capabilities. 

SAP Signavio Process Manager - Commenting capability

  • Integrate, automate, and implement process changes by connecting to other business systems, and providing a range of integrations within SAP Signavio Process Transformation Suite such as SAP Signavio Process Intelligence and SAP Signavio Process Insights for monitoring, analyzing, and improving the performance of processes over time.

SAP Signavio Process Manager - Live insights from Process Intelligence


Process modeling refers to the overall creation and visual representation of work/business processes including process semantics. This can include process mapping, which is a specific technique of creating a flowchart or diagram to show the steps in a process, and process drawing is the actual act of creating the visual representation using tools. Process modeling comprises a data layer and semantics that brings more context to diagrams and enables a range of activities such as reporting, analysis, simulation, and optimization. In summary, process modeling is a general concept, process mapping is a specific technique, and process drawing is the actual creation of the visual representation.