How to model an end to end process

Driven by digitization, process management experiences a renaissance. To understand distinctive business processes in their entirety, companies must describe them cross-departmental in an end-to-end perspective.

The end-to-end approach for integrated process models

In the past years, many companies have developed a habit of building functionally oriented process graves. The documentation work was, in many cases, mere alibi, for example for quality management audits. With this procedure, there can be no successful digitization.

Instead of drafting alone-standing models for functional areas such as development, production and logistics, companies would be well advised to set up an integrated process model based on end-to-end views. The former named singular areas could for example be combined to one end-to-end process called “production to delivery”.

Structuring of horizontal and vertical contents in a process model

The following depiction shows exemplary end-to-end processes that can serve as a starting point for developments. This may seem trivial at first. The real challenge arises, when singular end-to-end process are modeled on a detailed level. The BPM architect then must define, how to separate the areas from each other.

This concerns the horizontal separation, how to delineate end-to-end processes, as well as the vertical detailing. At this, the horizontal granularity is focused on the content-related separation of process areas and the vertical granularity on the level of detail of each content area.

To make sure for shared modeling projects that the entire model is built consistently, unambiguous criteria must be defined before the start of process modeling. It is important that the criteria for the separation of models allow a secure and unmistakable distinction, but that the effort for distinction at the same time stays reasonable. Initial point is the horizontal segmentation. Thus, in a modeling project, the central end-to-end processes must be identified at the beginning.

end 2 end processes

Identification of contents of an end-to-end model

Object-based separations are ideal for the distinction of horizontal modeling contents. This means that the central business objects must first be identified to separate the horizontal areas. Normally, for each end-to-end process, a maximum of three central business objects can be detected. A central business object can be uniquely defined according to the following criteria:

  • Fundamental processing of the business object through the observed area of end-to-end processes. The business object can find its appropriation in different end-to-end processes but does not fulfill the two following criteria in these.
  • The business object allows a measuring of the performance of the observed end-to-end process. It is for example feasible to define based on the quantity of processed business objects, how effective and efficient the observed area performs.
  • The central business object is not the process result of the observed end-to-end process. Business objects that can emerge as results of activities in the observed process area, can be central business objects in subsequent process objects.

The procedure to segment business processes ensues as follows:

  1. Determining the relevant end-to-end processes in the observed modeling detail,
  2. Definition of a maximum of three central business objects for each end-to-end process,
  3. Check, whether the defined central business objects are only used as central objects in the observed end-to-end process. If no such uniqueness is given, end-to-end processes in the observed granularity have to be differently intersected anew.

The horizontal demarcation between two end-to-end processes is to be drawn at the exact spot, where a change of central process objects occurs. The vertical structure on the other hand shall be defined based on instances. This means that the instance structure of the observed process needs to be determined to define the modeling depth, meaning the vertical decomposition. Each activity in a process must consist of a comparable instance granularity.

The detailing depth ensues according to the following pattern:

  1. Determination of all activities of the observed end-to-end process,
  2. Drafting of the corresponding process model for the observed process segment,
  3. Examine, whether all activities of the observed process feature a comparable instance granularity. If this is not the case, a further detailing of the observed process is necessary at these points.

The vertical detailing of an end-to-end process ensues at the exact spots, where activities hold a higher instance granularity than the overall process. The horizontal segmentation allows a separation of the overall process into easier manageable segments, whereas the vertical refinement defines the detailing depth of singular segments.

In larger digitization projects, affecting differing end-to-end processes of a company, it is also necessary to ascertain with detailed prerequisites that drafted process models lie in between a defined horizontal and vertical decomposition grid. To achieve this, a coarse definition of the detailing level of modeling is required.

Based on experiences from preceding modeling projects, it is possible to define benchmarks for the end-to-end structuring of a process model. The following figure shows a common and well-balanced process framework.

On the x-axis, the recommended benchmarks for executing control flow objects are defined. An important aspect is that an extensive end-to-end modeling at first shall be realized by raising the quantity of executing control flow objects rather than by increasing the modeling depth.

On the y-axis, the detailing level of a model is depicted. Each vertical detailing step must hold a consistent instance granularity. Contents shall feature a comparable instance behavior to all other contents of the same detailing level. During the modeling, process modelers start with the depiction of central end-to-end processes of a company by means of an overview.

end to end processes

Benchmarks and Volume

As benchmark for end-to-end processes that need to be defined, a quantity of six to twelve processes is feasible. Subsequently, the end-to-end processes that are depicted in the overview are detailed. For example, the subordinate main processes shall be intersected into five to six end-to-end processes. Process modelers need to make sure that the instance granularity of all detailed processes is similar. The subsequent detailing level must be modeled analogously.

The depicted details form the functional overview of end-to-end processes and thus the base for a further description. They deliver an important contribution for the conception and execution of digitization ventures, orientation points for reorganizations, structuring guidance for risk management and a real process-oriented leverage point for the introduction of process mining and process monitoring.

An exact definition of subprocesses can be conducted subsequently with detailed workflow descriptions. Here, the focus lies on documenting the activities of a process down until they reached an economically unreasonably decomposable activity. The specification of diagram and object quantities are oriented on an average modeling project and apply to middle-sized companies as well as large corporations. For the latter, they refer to corporate departments.

Note: This article has been published as a specialist article on

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