User's guide chapter 1

Previous: Introduction Next: Chapter 2

Chapter 1 – Getting Started with ProcessModel

1.1 – What Is ProcessModel?

ProcessModel helps you identify and implement changes that will maximize performance.

While victory in gaining competitive advantage lies in streamlining company processes, the results of making changes to processes are not always predictable. Process complexity and variability combine to obscure relationships between cause and effect.

Most companies fail to consider overall process performance as they create new policies and procedures designed to meet the shifting needs of their market, industry or strategy. Often, the resulting growth in processes creates huge inefficiencies.

First, ProcessModel helps analyze mission-critical processes.

Using ProcessModel, you’ll document existing business processes by creating a process map, typically in the form of a flowchart. Adding data about how the process operates takes the flowchart to the next level of sophistication, and allows a more rigorous analysis of potential problems.

The type of data required is relatively simple, but more detailed data can also be used if it is available.

ProcessModel combines the process map and data to create a ‘model’ that is used to identify problems within the process. The model has two powerful diagnostic tools—an animation of your processes in action, and a detailed statistical report. The animation works similar to video, allowing you to fast forward, zoom-in, and pause to
identify problem areas. The statistical report is also invaluable in identifying problems and their causes. Typical process-related problems include duplication, bottlenecks, staff scheduling issues, excessive non-value added time, and so on. ProcessModel clients often see the effects of these problems in their businesses in the form of long waiting times, late deliveries, high internal costs, dissatisfied customers, etc.

Second, ProcessModel allows you to experiment—risk free.

Once problems have been identified, these models are used to experiment with multiple ideas for improving your processes. Ideas can be measured and directly compared against your specific performance metrics. This means no more expensive trial and error—all the experimentation takes place in a simulated model that is entirely risk free.

ProcessModel’s optimization module will even automate the process of defining experiments. Simply define your success criteria, and let the software go to work.

Now, every decision you make takes on new levels of confidence and predictability. You’re fully aware of the effects of changing processes long before you begin implementation. And, ProcessModel’s animation capability is a powerful visual tool for generating “buy-in” for proposed process changes.

Third, ProcessModel helps you improve your actual operations.

Confident in your plan, you’ll implement one set of changes in the real world—the right one.

ProcessModel clients don’t make expensive mistakes, or upset actual operations with “well-intentioned” fixes. Instead, mission-critical processes are dramatically improved, risk free, building competitive advantage and aligning processes with customer requirements.

1.2 – ProcessModel Basic Tutorial

This section provides step-by-step instructions for creating a process model, running the simulation, and viewing the output reports and graphs. It is designed as a hands-on exercise which can be followed using the software. It contains the step-by-step instructions to help you learn how to:

• Define the Process Flow
• Define Resource Assignments
• Enter Process Information
• Simulate your ProcessModel
• View the Output Reports

In addition, this chapter answers the following questions:

• What is a Process Model?
• What are the main components of the ProcessModel Modeling Environment?
• What are the basic objects used in a Process Model?
• What are connections?

“Streamlining cross-company processes is the next great frontier…where this decade’s productivity wars will be fought.” Michael Hammer, “The Superefficient Company,” The Harvard Business Review September 2001

1.2.1 – Key Concepts

This section presents the concepts necessary to successfully complete the process for creating a process model, running the simulation, and viewing the output reports and graphs. Specifically you need to understand:

• Process Models
• The Modeling Environment
• Layout Window
• Toolbox
• Simulation Menu
• Properties Dialog
• Gallery
• Shape Palette
• Objects
• Entities
• Activities
• Resources
• Connections
• Entity Arrivals
• Entity Routings
• Resource Assignments

“As the (Six Sigma) industry moves forward, simulation tools will be of great benefit in processes that are more difficult to pin down. Processes that are integrated across a variety of departments or business units are a great example…These complex environments almost demand process simulation.” – Eric Edwin, Vice President, SBTI

Process Models

A process model is a flow diagram with associated operational information for simulating a process. A process flow diagram consists of objects (the graphic shapes in the flowchart) and connections (the lines connecting the graphic shapes). Objects represent the elements of the process while connections depict element relationships. A Properties Dialog displays the operational information for each object and connection.

ProcessModel 1

1.2.2 – The Modeling Environment

Layout Window

The layout window for drawing the flow diagram is a scrollable drawing area that is divided into pages. Pages correspond to what you would see if the diagram were printed. You may start the diagram anywhere on the layout although it is usually best to start in the upper left corner. The diagram can be easily moved later if needed.

ProcessModel Layout Help


The Toolbox is the column of buttons displayed on the left side of the layout window. (The Toolbox can be opened and closed by selecting. The primary buttons in the toolbox are the pointer button used to select objects, the shape button used to place new shapes on the layout, and the line button used to connect the shapes. The other buttons are for adding text, zooming and changing the line style.

Simulation Button

The Simulation button allows you to run the simulation.

Properties Dialog

The Properties Dialog allows you to define simulation information for each object and connection in the model. It stays open when you select a different object or connection, and if you close it, double-clicking on an object will open it again.

how to open properties dialog

The Properties Dialog changes context when you select another object. This allows you to view model element information instantly and edit all elements without having to open and close dialog windows each time you select another element.

The Gallery

The Gallery is a formatting command center. From the Gallery you can place shapes for your model, change color, font, line style, line ends and shadowing. The Gallery is positioned on the right hand of the screen for easy access, but can be positioned anywhere as a floating toolbar.

Shape Palette

A shape palette allows you to select each shape used to represent each object in the model. The default shape palette is called General and contains shapes that are commonly used for process diagramming. Other palettes and shapes may also be used if desired.

If the shape palette is marked as read-only, the user does not have local administrator permissions on the computer. The read-only status will not affect the models in any way. It will only restrict the user from editing the palette. If editing of the shape palette is required, the user will need to login as a local administrator.

“As Six Sigma is deployed throughout a company, Black Belts face increasingly difficult problems which require advanced approaches and tools. Delighting the customer is what it’s all about, and that comes from consistent end-to-end process performance. Understanding complex processes, and identifying the optimal way to serve customers and shareholders is where process simulation plays a key role.” – Kevin Weiss, President, The Capability Group


Objects are the shapes that are used in the model to depict entities, activities, storages, and resources. Objects are generally pulled from the palette, and can also be imported into the model or drawn using the drawing tools in ProcessModel.

Several formats can be used for importing objects into ProcessModel, but two are preferred. Graphics originally designed as WMF or EMF graphics will import flawlessly and will work for stationary and dynamic graphics. Raster images (JPG, GIF, PNG, etc.) can not be converted to vector images (WMF, EMF). The only way to convert these is to recreate the raster image in a vector editing software and save it as a vector file. Popular software options for doing this include CorelDRAW and Adobe Illustrator.  These editing softwares attempt to go from raster to vector automatically and will often work for ProcessModel objects. Some JPG and GIF graphics can be used in ProcessModel. These graphic formats work best as entities. When these graphics used as stationary objects they will often appear shifted or offset. It is important to use graphic that have been scaled prior to importing so as to reduce the size of the graphic and the memory requirement in ProcessModel.

Entities The items or people being processed, e.g., products, documents, customers, etc.

Activities The tasks performed on entities such as assembly, document approval or customer checkout.

Resources The agents used to perform activities and move entities such as service personnel, operators or equipment.


A line between two objects (activity, entity, storage, resource) that defines the flow of entities through a model or the assignment of a resource or an order signal. There are four types of connections: arrivals, routings, resource assignments, and order signals.

Entity Arrivals Define where, when and in what quantities entities enter the system to begin processing. Entity arrivals are defined by connecting an entity to the activity or storage where it begins processing. Multiple arrival connections can be created from an entity to one or more activities/storages.

Entity Routings Define the processing flow for entities. An entity routing is defined by connecting an activity or storage to the next activity or storage in the processing sequence. An activity or storage may have multiple input routings and multiple output routings. Entities do not move to the next activity or storage until there is available capacity and the condition or rule for routing the entity has been satisfied.

Resource Assignments Define the use of resources in performing activities or moving entities. A resource assignment is defined by connecting a resource to either an activity or a routing depending on whether it is used for an activity or to make a move. Resources may be captured before any activity or routing and freed after any activity or routing. Multiple or alternative resources may be used for an activity or routing.

1.2.3 – Detailed Directions – How to Build a Model

This section provides the step-by-step instructions for how to build a process model.

Specifically, it describes how to:

• Define the Process Flow
• Define Resource Assignments
• Enter Process Information
• Simulate your Process Model
• View the Output Reports

“With process simulation as part of their training, Six Sigma Experts will be more successful in individual projects and companies will be more successful with their overall Six Sigma deployment.” – Rick Murrow CEO of Air Academy Associates

In this tutorial you will build a model of a familiar business process—a help desk. It illustrates the power and simplicity of creating a working model using ProcessModel. The purpose of the model is to show how ideas for improvement can be tested using ProcessModel. This diagram shows the model we will create:

Process Improvement Example 1

Incoming calls arrive at the help desk about every 5 minutes and a support representative evaluates the nature of each problem. The representative is able to resolve 75% of the calls immediately. However, 25% of the calls require that other support representatives do research and make a return call to the customer. The research itself combined with the return call requires 20 minutes.

1.2.4 – Defining the Process Flow

Use this procedure to define all objects and connections in the process flow. The first step to take in building a model is to define and connect the entity and each activity of the process. You will do this by placing shapes on the layout to represent the entity and each activity in the process sequence. Each shape is connected to the previous shape as it is placed on the layout. The diagram will be constructed from left to right.


1. Click once on the mobile symbol named Call in the Shape Palette to select it.

2. Move the cursor to the left side of the Layout and click once to place the shape.

2.1 Click on General dropdown in the Gallery and select Entities.

2.2 Click once on the red phone symbol named Call in the Shape Palette to select it.

2.3 Move the cursor to the left side of the Layout and click once to place the shape. Type DifficultCall.

2.4 Click on Entities dropdown in the Gallery and select General.

3. Click once on the rectangle named Activity in the Shape Palette to select it.

4. Move your cursor to the Layout and position it over the Call shape. Click on it and drag to the right.

5. With the Activity shape selected, type Take Call.

Defining the Process Flow

Your model should look like this at the end of step 11

6. Click on the rectangle named Activity in the Shape Palette again.

7. Move your cursor over the Take Call shape. Click on it and drag to the right.

8. Type Perform Research.

9. Repeat steps 6 and 7 to create Return Call.

10. Click on the Connector Line Tool in the Toolbox.

11. Place your cursor over the Take Call shape. Click on it and drag down.

  See Overview of Modeling with ProcessModel video tutorial to learn more.

“Outdated systems crush ideas that could save a life. Redundant processes prevent us from adapting to evolving threats with the speed and agility that today’s world demands.” – Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense

1.2.5 – Defining Resource Assignments