You are here:Home>Learning Center>User's Guide>Chapter 1 – Getting Started

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

Defining Resource Assignments

Your model should look like this at the end of step 6

For this model, you need to define two customer support representatives, one to answer calls and one to do research and return calls. To define these resources, follow these steps:


1. Click on the shape of a person wearing a headset named Person in the Shape Palette.

2. Move your cursor to the Layout above the Take Call activity and click to place the shape, then type Support 1.

3. Repeat steps 1 and 2, placing the second Operator shape above the Perform Research activity and naming it Support 2.

4. To connect the resources to their activities, click on the Connector Line Tool in the Toolbox.

5. Place your cursor over the Support 1 resource, click once and drag a connection down to the Take Call activity, then repeat steps 4 and 5 to connect Support 2 to Perform Research.

6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 to draw a connection from Support 2 to Return call.

1.2.6 – Entering Process Information

You are now ready to complete the process information for the model. By double clicking on an entity, activity, resource, or connection, you open the Properties Dialog, which reflects the process information for that shape.

In this section, we will define the frequency of arrivals, enter activity times for the Take Call and Perform Research activities and define the percentage of calls that go to Perform Research and that exit the system. Finally, we will add cost information for the resources.Entering Process Information


1. Click on the Selector Tool, the arrow at the top of the Toolbox.

2. Double click on the Entity Arrival connection between Call and Take Call to open the Properties Dialog. Click on the drop down menu arrow next to the Type field and select Periodic. Type 5 into the field labeled Repeat Every.Entering Process Information

3. Double click on the Take Call activity. Type 2 into the field labeled Time.

4. Double click on the connection between Take Call and Perform Research. Change the Percent field to 25.

• The percent field was automatically set previously to 50 (percent) because two branches were created earlier, balancing the percentages. After changing this routing to 25%, the other routing exiting down out of Take Call is automatically updated to 75% since there are only two percentage routings from this activity.Entering Process Information

• While you are in this Percentage Routing Properties Dialog, you can separate the statistics that are displayed in the output report for the calls requiring research from the normal calls. This means that all of the easy call statistics (the ones that can be dealt with in two minutes) won’t be lumped together with hard calls. You will be able to see what is happening to customers requiring advanced help.

5. In the New Name field, type in DifficultCall. Entering Process Information

• Just by typing in a new name the statistics will automatically be separated for any entity that follows this path.

Note: The word HardCall must be one word (i.e. HardCall or Hard_Call, not Hard Call.)

6. Click on the Perform Research activity. In the Properties Dialog, enter 20 in the Time field.

• This would be a good time to further explain the Activity Dialog general tab. In this dialog there is an Input Queue, a Capacity and an Output Queue. You can think of these as a desk containing an inbox, a work area and an outbox. The default setting is to provide a large inbox, a work area for 1 entity and no outbox.Entering Process Information

7. Click on Return Call and enter 3 in the Time field.

8. Select the Support 2 resource and click on the Cost tab. In the Hourly Cost field, enter 20, for $20 an hour.

9. Select Support 1. Enter 12 in the Hourly Cost field.

You have now completed all of the steps to construct a basic model.

“ProcessModel is one of the main tools in our toolkit. We train every Black Belt to use it. Recently, process simulation was critical in streamlining our sales admin process… That project alone saved between three million and ten million dollars.” Angel Rivera, Master Black Belt, Cordis, Johnson & Johnson

1.2.7 – Saving Your Model

You are now ready to save your model as a model package.

Model Packages

Model Packages are a collection of all the files associated with a model, encapsulated and compressed into a single file that can be transferred to another user or department. Not only do Model Packages include the model files but they also contain all associated files, including spreadsheets, import files, documents, pictures, avi or wave files, etc. These files can be located in different directories or drives. When a model package is installed, all of associated files are placed in the same directory and all internal directory references are rewritten.

Creating a Model Package is the best way to assure that your model will run exactly as developed, with all the submodels, shifts, output formatting and external files. Transferring this one compressed file will take the headache out of trying to manually locate files that are in different directories or even on different computers.ProcessModel save window chapter 1

Creating Model Packages

1. Click File \ Save, or the Save icon in the toolbar to save the model.

• Click File \ Save As to save an already saved model with a different name.

2. Browse to the location where you wish to save the model, name/rename the model as desired, click on the save button to save the model.

• If you wish to save a model using a different file extension, for example .IGX you may do so my changing the extension type under ‘Save as type:’ (ProcessModel recommends that you only open/save models as a model package (.SPG).)

• In case files attached to ProcessModel cannot be found, a window will be displayed showing the missing files.ProcessModel open window chapter 1

Opening Model Packages

1. Start ProcessModel.

2. Click File \ Open, or the Open icon in the toolbar. The following window will open.

3. Browse to the location where you have saved your model, click on the model and press open. If the model you are looking for was not saved as a model package, please select the appropriate extension from the ‘Files of type’. Older models built using ProcessModel, maybe saved with a .IGX extension. (ProcessModel recommends that you only open/save models as a model package (.SPG).)

4. Once the model opens, you can continue to edit, or simulate the model normally.

1.2.8 – Simulating Your Process Model

The model is now complete and you are ready to run the simulation. Simulating your model is easy. With a click of the mouse, ProcessModel transforms this flowchart into an animated process simulation.Simulation button in ProcessModel


1. Click on the Simulate button, or click the Simulation from the toolbar menu and select Save & Simulate.

• If prompted to save, type in Help Desk as the name of your model and click on Save.

1.2.9 – The Simulation Window

After the file has been saved, the simulation will begin to run and the simulation window will appear. As you are watching the simulation, you may want to take note of the following items:

Analyzing the simulation window

• Telephone calls moving through the flowchart provide visual feedback of calls flowing through the process.

Analyzing the simulation window

• Resources have a status light associated with them indicating when they are in operation. The status light is green when the resource is being utilized and blue when it is idle.

If scenario parameters are used in a resource quantity field, no indicator lights will be displayed during simulation. The only way to have indicator lights show during simulation is to use a numeric value in the resource’s quantity field. The maximum number of indicator lights during simulation for any resource is 12.

Analyzing the simulation window

• Counters are located above and to the left of each activity. They represent the number of calls waiting to process at the activity’s input queue. The number above and to the right shows the contents of the output queue. The number directly below the activity or storage shows the current contents of the activity or storage.

Analyzing the simulation window

• The speed of the simulation can be controlled by moving the Speed Control Bar left for slower, right for faster.

• An on-screen Scoreboard keeps track of system statistics such as Quantity Processed, Cycle Time, Value Added Time, and Cost Per Unit.

“I’ve long ago left management of the industrial engineering function in our company (Thiokol Propulsion), but I’m continually impressed with the capability and utility of your software product based both on the monthly stories published in your magazine and the applications for the modeling software at our company. Keep up the good work!” – Jim Ekstrom, Thiokol

1.2.10 – Viewing the Output Reports

The reports and graphs in the Output Module can provide you with the information you need to make better decisions that will result in achieving the goals of the company, organization, or group. You will be able to identify problems and opportunities that may not have been readily apparent at the outset. You could find potential processing bottlenecks, under-utilized resources, or unused capacity.

There are two types of output reports. One is Output Report which gives detailed statistical information. The other is Output Detail Report which provides graphs and charts. Together the reports provide decision-making information to the model builder.

Viewing the Output Report


1. Click on No on the Yes / No question box that pops up after the simulation run ends.

2. Click the Output Report toolbar icon Output report button / icon or click View \ Output Report.

• The Output Report provides information that a business manager would require to make a decision on a process change.

3. Click on the General Report and then click Resource by % tab.Output report resource state by percentage

• You can see that Support 1 was in use 40% of the time, and Support 2 is in use almost all the time. This imbalance may indicate a problem area in your process. You may want to add more resources, change the assignment of resources or be prepared to have customers wait for extended periods for support. With ProcessModel, you can experiment with many different options to find the optimal solution.

• Browse through different tabs of the Output Report.

4. To see the total cost for running the process for the week, click on Total Cost at the left.

Total cost in output repost

Total Cost represents the sum of all the cost to run the process plus the addition of all unused resource costs.

3. To see the average cost of each entity type, click on Entity Cost.

Entity cost in output report

Entity Cost provides you with a realistic picture of the cost to produce one entity. Unused resource costs are applied to each entity type so you get a realistic picture of all costs involved in producing an entity.

4. To obtain cost breakdowns for the resources in the process, click on Resource Cost.

Resource cost in output report

Resource Cost provides a breakdown of the cost of the resource for time utilized and for the time that the resource was utilized. This table helps you to quantify the resource waste in your process.

5. To obtain the amount of cycle time that adds value to the entity, click on Value Added Time.

Value added time in output report

• Value Added Time is broken into Value Added, Non Value Added, and Book Value Added. These breakdowns allow you to determine what part of your process provides the values and what part does not.

• Cycle Time is the length of time that an entity remains in the simulation model. Cycle Time is given as a average.

“In recent years, forward-thinking companies like IBM, Texas Instruments, and Duke Power have begun to make the leap from process redesign to process management. These companies are emerging from all those changes as true process enterprises–businesses whose management structures are in harmony, rather than at war, with their core processes. And their organizations are becoming much more flexible, adaptive, and responsive as a result.” — Michael Hammer, Harvard Business Review

Viewing the Output Detail ReportOutput detail report resource graph


1. Click on Yes in the Yes / No question box that pops up after the simulation run ends.

2. Click on the button depicting a bar graph called View a State or Utilization Summary Graph.Output detail report resource pie graph

• You will see the State and Utilization Graph window.

3. Select Resource States from the State and Utilization Graph window and click on OK.

4. Click anywhere on the bar next to Support 2 to view this information in a pie chart.

5. To exit after the output data has been reviewed and analyzed, click on the File Menu and select Exit.

“Process simulation should be a part of every Black Belts toolkit. Over time, Black Belts are forced to look beyond the low hanging fruit. And that typically means working with processes that are more complex and difficult to visualize. Tools like ProcessModel become invaluable.” – Steve Fleming, CEO of Sigmax Solutions.

1.2.11 – Model Building Sequence

The most important thing to remember when building your first model is to not get too complicated too fast. Don’t put all the detail of a completed model into your first attempt. You will get swallowed up in the detail and be very frustrated that you can’t make it work.

Over time we have developed a sequence to develop models that will speed the process, reduce frustration and improve the quality of the final model. The sequence is described by the acronym FASTAR.

  • Flow the model.
  • Animate the model for process expert.
  • Simplify and correct.
  • Timing – enter time values and capacities for each activity.
  • Arrivals – complete detailed arrivals.
  • Resources – when appropriate and needed, add resources connected to activities.

 Build the flow in ProcessModel — Run model, create package

  • Starting from the template and save as the PROCESS NAME.
  • Make the most common path across the top of the model (the “happy path”).
  • Write notes for the times, percentages, and who does the activity but do not enter times
  • or add resources yet.
  • Identify all non value-adding activities in red and change VA TYPE to NVA.
  • Move graphics ¾” away from edge of all pages.
  • Align, space and size all activities.
  • Connect the notes to the activities or routes.
  • Move the notes to the notes layer.
  • Add logic for learning loops and scheduled delays.

Animate your model and look for the following:

  • Clarity of activity descriptions – keep it short (verb noun)
  • Are questions in appropriate places?
  • Does it make sense?
  • Eliminate dead ends, fix backward modeling, eliminate crossovers if possible.

Simplify the model

  • Review the flow for simpler methods of representing the process description.
  • Create a list questions for process expert.
  • Make changes as need from the feedback.
  • Get approval from the process expert(s) before entering ANY additional data.
  • Look for approval on: Flow, Feedback loops, Notes of times, percentages, resources usage and general information


  • Set run length, input timing and capacities at activities – Run model, Save in PM


  • Input arrival quantity and frequency — Run model, Save in PM


  • Attach resources (if appropriate and required) — Run model, Save in PM

Finally and always – Validate your model

  • Export model data and check off each piece of critical data.
  • Develop collection devices to measure times and/or quantities.
  • Graph measurements. Does the data make sense.
  • Save active chart view.
  • Print Model and graphs.
  • Review output with process expert.
  • Have the process expert sign the printed model and appropriate output graphs (when they agree the model reflects the real system).
  • Write a simple summary of the process.
  • Attach the summary to the model.

These simple steps will help you effectively and efficiently build your simulation models – Happy modeling.

Previous: Introduction Next: Chapter 2