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Business Architecture and Hierarchical Process Modeling

Oct 28, 2014 | BPM, Business

Oracle BPM Composer 12c introduces some new types of modeling that make Business Architechture and Hierarchical Process modeling easier. Starting from either the top-down or from the bottom-up, there are ways to model the different levels, zero through four, of processes. 

  • Level 0 – Enterprise Map, Contextual Model
  • Level 1 – Value Chain Model, Conceptual Model
  • Level 2 – Value Chain Model, Logical Model
  • Level 3 – BPMN Process Model, Physical Model
  • Level 4 – Activities and Subprocesses, Implementable Model

Level 0 – Enterprise Map – Contextual Model

Enterprise maps, also known as operating models, are the highest level of detail in process modeling.

Oracle Process Composer defines Enterprise maps as “[a model that shows] the primary business functions of an enterprise and the pieces of the organization that perform those functions”.

Another definition of an enterprise maps is “a high level view defining the scope and boundaries or the organization” (Viljoen, 2012), its goal is to define the business on a single page.

The Enterprise Map is a contextual model that contains lanes and process areas. The process areas will provide the boundaries and scope for the lower levels of modeling, value chains. In Oracle BPM Composer 12c, each process area can be linked to a value chain map. This will allow true top down modeling for the organization. 


The ideal audiences for Level 0 Models are Executives, Business Analysts (Strategists), and Business Architects.

Level 1 – Value Chains – Conceptual Model

The next level of modeling is the Value Chain Model, aka. Macro Processes or Main Processes. Oracle defines the value chain model as “A value chain is a high-level model that categorizes the generic value-adding activities of an organization”

Many people who have studied business may be familiar with Michael Porter’s definition of a value chain that was described in his book, Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance (1985), which says that “the idea of the value chain is based on the process view of organizations, the idea of seeing a manufacturing (or service) organization as a system, made up of subsystems each with inputs, transformation processes and outputs. Inputs, transformation processes, and outputs involve the acquisition and consumption of resources – money, labor, materials, equipment, buildings, land, administration and management. How value chain activities are carried out determines costs and affects profits.” 

The value chain models these subsystems. The value chain begins with a start step, which represents the inputs, and then each following chain step represents a transformation process, until the end step which represents the outputs.  

The steps in a value chain may not be organized in the way that the company is organized, but they should be organized in a way that shows how the work is done to deliver value to the customer.  

Porter’s original value chain model contained primary activities and support activities. In hierarchical process modeling, it makes more sense to break the primary activities and support activities out into different modeling types. The support activities will reside in the enterprise map, and they may contain their own value chains, while the primary activities make up the value chain. 


The ideal audience for Conceptual Value Chain models are Business Owners, Business Analysts (Strategists), and Business Architects.

Closer Look at Porter’s Value Chain Model

Here is Porter’s original value chain model from his book Competitive Advantage.

Source: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newSTR_66.htm

Here is one way of adjusting this model to use hierarchical process modeling in Oracle Composer 12c.

Enterprise Map

Value Chain

The “Core Business Value Chain” process step in the Enterprise Map above would like to this value chain model.

Level 2 – Value Chain – Logical Model

Each step in a Level 1 Value Chain can link to a more detailed, level 2 value chain model, like this one.

Level 1 models will attempt to model out conceptually what happens, while level 2 models will attempt to model out logically what happens.

For example, in the Operations chain step of the level 1 model, there could be a level 2 model that looks something like this….

If it makes sense within the organization, there could be several layers of level 1 and level 2 models. If another value chain existed within the “Design and Engineering” step, then another value chain model could be linked to that step.


Since level 1 and level 2 value chain models are very closely coupled, the ideal audience is the same – Business Owners, Business Analysts (Strategists), and Business Architects.

Level 3 – Process Models (BPMN) – Physical Model

The next level of hierarchical process modeling is the physical model, which can be drawn in a BPM process model using BPMN.

In Oracle’s words, “a process describes a sequence or flow of Activities in an organization with the objective of carrying out work.” Here is another definition of process models specifically related to hierarchical process modeling – “Models representing the complete business and system requirements without reference to a specific implementation.” (Viljoen, 2012)

In Oracle BPM Composer 12c, each step in a value chain model can link to either another value chain step, or a BPM Process.

There are many good resources for best practices for modeling in BPMN.

Here are just a few….


The ideal audiences for BPMN process models are Business Owners, Business Analysts, Subject Matter Experts, and End Users.

Level 4 – Process Step (Subprocesses and Activities) – Implementable Model

The lowest level of hierarchical process modeling is the subprocess and activities inside the BPM process that make the process implementable. “[Level 4] models represent the complete business and system requirements with references to specific implementation or work practice.” (Viljoen, 2012)

Oracle 12c composer has a number of features that allow this level of modeling detail to be entered into the tool. 

Narrative View

In addition to the graphical view of the BPMN model, 12c introduces the narrative view. This view will tell the story of the process. The user can see all of the documentation about the process to get the level of detail associated with a level for implementable process model.


Graphical View
Narrative View


The ideal audiences for this level of details in a process model are the Subject Matter Experts, Business Analyst, and End Users.

Food for thought: Models vs Diagrams




Standardized Methods – such as BPMN, UML and CMMN. Tool-sets support and verify the behavior and rules.

Methods are determined by the author and are not tested by a tool-set

Collaboratively worked on in the modeling tools (such as BPM Process Composer)

Worked on by a single user (usually the author or creator)

Models have objects and relationship between the object that create an overall “picture” that has meaning

Diagrams create a picture of the author’s definition. There are not relationships and definitions that are enforced by a tool set or standard.

Patterns are defined and can be re-used (integrated). Suprocesses is one example of reusable components in a model.

Component of a diagram can be copied and pasted onto another diagram, but the components of the picture do not integrate with other pictures.

Source: Reflection on Business Process Levelling | Sarina Viljoen

Oracle BPM Composer 12c can take Visio Diagrams and turn them into models, for more information, checking out this blog post.


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