Brian Hunt
August 23, 2016

ARTICLE: To Understand Business Processes, Just Use Your Loaf

In a previous career Brian was a manufacturing quality engineer at GE medical systems where he was trained in Total Quality Management and business process reengineering. He now works as an independent business process improvement consultant with a special interest in the 'Business Process Tangles', Learn more about this at


Many recruiters call for specific domain experience when they want help in process redesign.  But, whether your product is life insurance, cakes or motorbikes, the principles of business process are the same:  You want a defined output from a set of inputs, and you want that output to be provided at consistent time, cost and quality.  To do that, you need a designed and managed process.

A home bread making machine  provides a great example of a managed process:

The process objective is 'I want a loaf of bread' and this will be produced to the users satisfaction if the right ingredients and quantities are put into the mixing pan,  if the controls are set correctly and the process constraints are understood.    As it takes approximately 2 hours to bake a loaf, expecting this to be done in 20 minutes may result in the dissatisfaction of the uninformed user.  

If you try to make a process do more than it is capable of, it will fail.  If you commit to producing what you can't provide, then short term workarounds might work, but the process will not be sustainable and delivery dates, cost and quality will suffer.

The process requires resources for it to operate.  For the bread maker, these resources  are a reliable electrical supply and adequate level workspace with sufficient size,  position and strength for the bread making machine to sit on.

Any process can be understood in a similar way:  define the desired output  or outputs,  the inputs required to achieve these outputs,  the transformation or process required to act on these inputs,  the process controls and constraints and the resources required for the process to operate.   These resources may include internal or external data, natural resources,   finance, suppliers,  intellectual property  and entrepreneurial skills.

With business processes, gaining this understanding may mean mapping out the process using marker pens and post-it notes.

All outputs require energy for their production.   In the breadmaker example,there will be several outputs: the wanted output  of the baked loaf  and the unwanted outputs of heat and noise.   These unwanted outputs are wasted energy and a quantifiable measure of efficiency process efficiency.  These are equivalent to waste activities in a business process.

This is the process used by the bread maker:

Modelling the process breaks it down into its fundamental steps as follows:

  • Mixing the ingredients into dough
  • Kneading and heating the dough
  • Resting the dough
  • Kneading the dough
  • Baking the dough into bread

Understanding the component parts of the process allows you to see how else that process can be used. For example, lateral thinking shows that the bread maker can also be used for making jam.  A business process may also have multiple uses.

As a process user,  we only need to know how to use the machine, we don't need to know what is 'under the bonnet'.   If we want to change it or repair the bread maker, we need to  know how it works.   This is equivalent to business process review and re-engineering.  

These are the components of the bread maker machine:

These components are equivalent to process groups, and could be further decomposed  (i.e. taken apart) to see what's in them.  That lowest, nuts and bolts level is sometimes called an atomic process because it can't be taken apart any more.  That would be equivalent to a flow chart which shows individual activities.

You can think of the bread maker as metaphor for an organisation, and its components as the departments that connect together to work as a designed system that provides what a customer wants and creates profit.   That's also a simple process architecture model.


As organisations grow organically or as a result of acquisition, their business processes can become tangled, causing inconsistency, delay and error.   I untangle these processes into clearly documented, simplified and lean business processes that show what people do, why they do it, how they do it and who they do it for.  

For more information, please visit or You can contact Brian at or mobile +44(0)7828 438088.

The Business Transformation & Operational Excellence Industry Awards

The Largest Leadership-Level Business Transformation & Operational Excellence Event



Proqis Digital Virtual Conference Series

View our schedule of industry leading free to attend virtual conferences. Each a premier gathering of industry thought leaders and experts sharing key solutions to current challenges.

Download the most comprehensive OpEx Resport in the Industry

The Business Transformation & Operational Excellence Industry Awards Video Presentation

Proqis Events Schedule

Proqis Digital

Welcome to BTOES Insights, the content portal for Business Transformation & Operational Excellence opinions, reports & news.
Access all 75 Award Finalist Entires
Subscribe to Business Transformation & Operational Excellence Insights Now
ATTENDEE - Proqis Digital Event Graphics-2
ATTENDEE - Proqis Digital Event Graphics (2)-1
ATTENDEE - Proqis Digital Event Graphics (1)-1

Featured Content

  • Best Achievement of Operational Excellence in Technology & Communications: IBM
  • Best Achievement of Operational Excellence in Oil & Gas, Power & Utilities: Black & Veatch
  • Best Achievement in Cultural Transformation to deliver a high performing Operational Excellence culture: NextEra Energy
Operational Excellence Frameworks and Learning Resources, Customer Experience, Digital Transformation and more introductions
  • Intelligent BPM Systems: Impact & Opportunity
  • Surviving_the_IT_Talent_deficit.png
  • Six Sigma's Best Kept Secret: Motorola & The Malcolm Baldrige Awards
  • The Value-Switch for Digitalization Initiatives: Business Process Management
  • Process of Process Management: Strategy Execution in a Digital World

Popular Tags

Speaker Presentation Operational Excellence Business Transformation Business Improvement Insights Article Continuous Improvement Process Management Business Excellence process excellence Process Optimization Process Improvement Award Finalist Case Study Digital Transformation Leadership Change Management Lean Enterprise Excellence Premium Organizational Excellence Lean Enterprise Lean Six Sigma Execution Excellence Capability Excellence Enterprise Architecture New Technologies Changing & Improving Company Culture Agile end-to-end Business Transformation Execution & Sustaining OpEx Projects Culture Transformation Leadership Understanding & Buy-In Lack of/Need for Resources Adapting to Business Trends Changing Customer Demands Failure to Innovate Integrating CI Methodologies Lack of/Need for Skilled Workers Lack of/Need for Support from Employees Maintaining key Priorities Relationships Between Departments BTOES18 RPA & Intelligent Automation Live Process Mining BTOES From Home Financial Services Cultural Transformation Customer Experience Excellence Process Automation Technology Healthcare iBPM Healthcare and Medical Devices Webinar Culture Customer Experience Innovation BTOES Video Presentations Exclusive BTOES HEALTH Strategy Execution Business Challenges Digital Process Automation Report Industry Digital Workplace Transformation Manufacturing Supply Chain Planning Robotic Process Automation (RPA) BPM Automation IT Infrastructure & Cloud Strategies Artificial Intelligence Business Process Management innovation execution AI Lean Manufacturing Oil & Gas Robotic Process Automation IT value creation Agility Business Speaker Article Systems Engineering RPAs Insurance Process Design Digital Speaker's Interview data management Intelligent Automation digital operations Six Sigma Awards thought leaders BTOES Presentation Slides Transformation Cloud Machine Learning Data Analytics Digital Transformation Workplace Banking and Capital Markets Data Finance Professional Services Education IT Infrastructure IT Infrastructure & Cloud Strategies Live Blockchain Interview Solving Cash Flow with AI BTOES White Paper investment banking Analytics Insight BTOES19 Consumer Products & Retail Enterprise Agile Planning Government Operational Excellence Model Project Management Algorithm Automotive and Transportation Banking Business Environment Digital Bank Enterprise architecture as an enabler Hybrid Work Model Primary Measure of succes Relationship Management Sales business expansion revenue growth Adobe Sign Agile Transformation CoE Delivery solution E-Signatures Electricity Global Technology HealthcareTechnologies Innovation in Healthcare Reduce your RPA TCO Transportation Accounts Receivable (AR) Big Data Technology CORE Cloud Technology Cognitive learning Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) Logistics Services Operational Excellence Example Risk Management business process automation transformation journey Covid-19 Data Entry Digital Experience Digital Network Digital Network Assistant (DNA) Digitization Drinks Effective Change Leaders HR Internet Media NPS Net Promoter Score Program Management Portal (PgMP) Sustainability TechXLive The Document is Dead The New Era of Automation Automated Money Movement Banking & Financial Services Biopharmaceutical Blue Room Effect Building Your Future Workforce in Insurance Business Process Governance Capital Market Creative Passion Digital Transformation Workplace Live Digital Workforce Digitalization ERP Transformation Finance Global Operations (FGO) Financial Services Software Frameworks Hoshin Planning Human Capital Lean Culture Natural Gas Infrastructure Natural Language Processing Organizational Change Pharmaceutical Pharmaceuticals & Life Sciences Project manager Supply Chain Management Sustainable Growth The Fully Automated Contact Center Transformation Initiatives Workplace Analytics eForms eSignatures 3D Thinking BEAM BFARM BTOES17 Big Data Processing Business Analytics Business Growth Centralized Performance Monitoring System Communication Creativity Digital Technologies Digital Technology Educational Psychologist Energy Management Health Insurance Health Maintenance Organizations Hospitality & Construction Human Centered Design Integrated Decision Approach Integrated Decision Making Intelligent Document Processing Kaizen Medicare Moodset for Excellence Natural Language Processing (NLP) Offering Managers Oil and Gas Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Pharmaceuticals and Life Sciences Photographing Price and Routing Tracking (PART) Process Design Document (PDD) Product Identifier Descriptions (PIDs) Python Quote to Cash (Q2C) Resilience SAP Sales Quota Team Work Telecommunications Text Mining Visually Displayed Work Culture master text analytics virtual resource management