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What is the difference between business process modeling software and business process automation systems?

It’s an incredible question to me, as a person, who works in the industry. At the same time we’re often asked this question. If people more or less understand that it’s possible to make a model of a business process, they sometimes get lost in notions when it comes to the process model put into life, or process execution.


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“Business process modeling software is about building a visual scheme of a process which makes it easier for the human eye to look at, find weaknesses and, strategically thinking, improve the processes and optimize them.”

It sometimes leads to extreme questions like what should I better chose: a business process modeler or business process automation software?

Let’s put it simply: the purpose of those two kinds of programs is different. When you model a process, you can do it on paper or use any graphical editor, like Visio (if you add some business process modeling software extensions into it). Business process modeling is about building a visual scheme of a process which makes it easier for the human eye to look at, find weaknesses and, strategically thinking, improve the processes and optimize them.

Business process execution (or automation) is often confused because both practices have the same initial step: modeling the process. The difference is that, unlike with business process modeling, with automated workflow processes, after you complete modeling, you hit the ‘execute’ button (or whatever button the software has), and the solution starts distributing tasks to your team according to the business model you’ve put into the solution.

This way, you can see that both business process modeling softwareand business process automation system have one step in common: drawing your process in the form of a diagram. The difference is that process automation gives you an ‘executable diagram’ and that is drastically different from a simple graphical workflow builder.

Business process automation systems are team work organizers that enable the manager to distribute enough work to every member of their team, and then control the progress process in live mode. The system gathers information from each user: after they hit ‘complete’ for each task, the system notifies the next responsible person who needs to take action and reminds them what action is to be taken.

The information request by the system takes minimal time, sometimes no time, as the system simply records that the ‘complete’ button was hit and when it was done.

So it depends on your goal: what kind of solution you are looking for? If you are a business analyst and you need to just build a scheme of business processes – chose business process modeling. If you want to orchestrate your team work and reduce time on routine work, business process automation software comes to the rescue.

Comindware Tracker is a business process automation system that enables you to execute your business processes, rules and policies right after you’ve modeled your process. We offer different kinds of solutions for specific activities, but, due to the flexible nature of Comindware Tracker and its customization capabilities, you can support any kind of activity with our business process automation system.

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Anastasia Chumakova is Product Marketing Analyst and Workflow Automation Expert at Comindware.
She currently explores online process management product development trends, contributes to www.comindware.com and provides tips for better use of Comindware Tracker and online work management solutions.

Posted on:  in Leadership, Project World

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