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Business Process Modelling with UML

White paper prepared by Codel Services Ltd

Problem Statement

There are often no formally defined business processes and associated procedures in critical parts of a business. Such areas include external facing areas of the business, operations, compliance, control, risk and security.  

These, especially in large organisations often also require the co-operation of a large number of stakeholders, both internal and external.   

These two factors combined make the management of these processes at worst untenable and at best extremely inefficient. Such areas are particularly sensitive to ill-defined business processes because:


Manual procedures (such as background checks) cannot be avoided, and form a large proportion of the overall end-to-end process


A large number of parties involved are often involved, all with responsibilities to the goals of the business process

Uncorrected this will result in: 


Duplication of effort


Lack of clarity of responsibility between parties


Lack of integration between manual process and system tools


Inefficient or incomplete use of system tools


Lack of integration between the parties involved in the business process.

Furthermore some of the controls are high risk, and often performed by junior members of staff. Unless there is transparency of these controls (and the entire control environment), these risks cannot be assessed and mitigated.

Such weaknesses will introduce vulnerabilities that could be exploited both internally and externally, obviating costly investments of any IT systems such areas use.

This paper specifically uses the example a hypothetical IT security process, but the principles apply to any part of the business, especially the sensitive areas described above.


This section outlines an UML[1] based structured methodology that is especially useful in modelling complex business processes such described earlier.  

Business modelling is often done informally, if at all. Whilst informal approaches such as using simple Powerpoint models can present information that satisfies one particular audience, they usually lack the analytical rigour to be much use in developing workable, joined-up procedures. 

Unfortunately, structured methodologies are often seen as too technical or opaque to be much use as a tool of communication. Therefore in order to be useful, a methodology is required to be both analytical, as well as presenting its deliverables in a manner useful to many different audiences. 

The structured approach described here can convey the same information at different levels of detail, without losing information between the layers of abstraction as is typically the case with informal approaches. It is also a top-down approach, and is therefore led by the expectations of the stakeholders, rather than the aspirations of the designers.

Please note that any examples shown in this document are illustrative only. To navigate around the detail of this methodology please use the menu bar to the left.


[1] UML: Unified Modelling Language

2002-2005 Codel Services Ltd

This paper has been prepared by Codel Services Ltd to illustrate how structured business modelling can help your organisation. Codel Services Ltd is an IT Consultancy specialising in business modelling. If you would like further information, please contact us at: Deryck Brailsford, Codel Services Ltd, Dale Hill Cottage, Kirby-Le-Soken, Essex CO13 0EN,United Kingdom. Telephone: +44 (0)1255 862354/Mobile: + 44 (0)7710 435227/e-mail: