An activity in a business process is a specific step or task that is performed as part of a larger process or workflow. It can be thought of as a discrete unit of work that contributes to the overall achievement of a business goal or objective.
Examples of activities in a business process might include things like data entry, document review, product assembly, quality control checks, customer support interactions, or sales calls. Each of these activities represents a specific step in a larger process, and is typically performed by one or more individuals who are responsible for completing it accurately and efficiently.
In BusinessOptix you can capture a wide array of information about each process activity.
Adding an Activity to a Process Map
In BusinessOptix Author open the Process Map and
- From the Components tab, select the Activity button
- Click where you would like the Activity to appear in your diagram
- In the Properties Inspector type in or select the required information.
- For example:
- Name (this will label the activity in the diagram)
- Lane (which lane to add the activity to)
- Type of task
- After – click the + to select which activity it should follow
- References - click the + to add reference information to the activity step
- Description – if you need to elaborate on the activity, type in the description field. This has an unlimited text length and will appear in the pop up in the html output when the element is clicked on or the relevant paragraph in the PDF outputs
- From the Properties Inspector Details tray, apply RACI:
- Select the Location for the Responsible Person(s) e.g. Finance or physical location – to do this click the ‘+’ next to locations, expand the role option and tick the appropriate location(s). If the item is not on the list, contact the BusinessOptix administrators to update the list. Refer to the Master Data section of this guidance.
- Select who is Responsible for the activity e.g. Administrator
- Select a system that performs the task if necessary, e.g. Agresso
- Add other options as required in the Details tray
Note: RACI’s accountable is labelled via the Properties Inspector on each lane.
Naming your Activity in your Process Map
How the activity is named will aid the stakeholders and consumers of your business process better understand the purpose of the business activity. Following the guidelines for understanding:
- Use verb / noun syntax for activities. “DO something TO something”. Avoid intransitive verbs (verbs with no noun - e.g. “work hard”) and function labels (nouns with no verb – e.g. “marketing”)
- Keep the words as simple and straightforward as possible – “Allocate Tasks to People” is easier to understand than “Deploy Resources to Fulfill Plan”
- Try to reflect the purpose of the activities in the words you choose – e.g. if a document is being put out for review “Obtain Feedback” says more than “Issue Draft”.
- Make verbs as active as possible and nouns as tangible as possible – “Buy tickets” is better than “Arrange travel”
- Avoid putting multiple activities into a single box. Using the word “and” is a clue that you may be doing this.
- Make nouns as specific as possible for the level of the model. Generally, nouns will be more specific the lower the level you’re working at. E.g. - at high level an activity might be stated as “Assess Damage”, but at lower level this might break down to “Visit Premises”; “Complete Inventory Form”; “Produce Damage Assessment Report”…
- Avoid documenting activities that are implied by the model - e.g. if a line comes into Role B’s swim lane from an activity in Role A’s saying “Produce Preliminary Report”, there’s no need to have an activity for Role B saying “Receive Preliminary Report”.
- Avoid ambiguity – e.g. “Update Management” could mean “tell the managers what’s going on” or “update the fields in the system on the “Management” form” or could be the name of another process about managing software updates.
What type of Activity is it?
Picking the correct type for your activity also aids in understanding. The activity types you can select from include:
- An Undefined task is any task whose type has not otherwise been defined;
- A Manual task is performed by humans, without the use of an application. The Responsible role identifies the person (or persons) who should perform the task;
- A User task is performed by humans, using an application. The Responsible role identifies the person (or persons) who should perform the task, and Systems identifies the application;
- An Automated task is performed by software service, without human assistance. Systems identifies the service that should performs the task;
- A Send task sends a message to an external participant. Systems identifies the application or service that sends the message;
- A Receive task waits for and receives a message from an external participant. Systems identifies the application or service that receives the message;
- A Script task is performed by a Business Process Management System. Systems identifies the system in question;
- A Business rule task is performed by a Business Rules Engine. Systems identifies the engine in question;
- An Embedded sub-process is a group of activities performed as a unit;
- A Local process call invokes another process defined in the same model;
- An External process call invokes a process defined in another model.
Although BusinessOptix relaxes these rules in the interest of flexibility, formally speaking
- Manual tasks do not involve the use of an application, and so should not specify any systems
- Only Manual and User tasks are performed by humans, so only these should have a Responsible role
- Embedded sub-processes, and Local and External process calls, should have neither Responsible roles nor Systems of their own