Style Guides for Process Modelling

Tania Kraus
Senior Technical Product Specialist

LinkedIn Profile

A style guide is a document that contains the rules and guidelines that are used across an organisation to ensure the documents produced have a consistent style, tone, voice, and branding. This helps to ensure a consistent look and feel across the organisation and a cohesive presence for customers, suppliers, and others who engage with the organisation. 

Most often, you think of style guides that have been created for documents and presentations, but they are also useful for process modelling to ensure a consistent approach across all the modelling teams within an organisation.

What can be included in a process modelling style guide?
  • Naming conventions for processes diagrams and steps – things to consider include:
    • Will processes numbered and what number format be used, for example – 1, 2, 3 or 0, 1.1 1.2, 2.0 etc? If numbering is used, what happens if a process is deleted, or another process is added – how will that affect the numbering?
    • Capitalisation – will the names of processes and steps have every word capitalised or will sentence case be used? Will there be different standards for the names of processes as opposed to steps? For example – processes may have each word capitalised and steps use sentence case. In this scenario a process is named Enter Customer Details and a step is named Enter customer details.
    • How are process and step names started? For example, starting with a strong, present tense verb followed by a noun, such as Raise Invoice rather than Raising Invoice.
  • When Warnings, Cautions and Notes are used and the information to put them.
  • The flow of the steps within a process diagram, such as starting top-left and finishing bottom right.
  • The ideal minimum and maximum number of steps within a process diagram to ensure optimum readability for the users of the processes.
  • When to use work instructions as opposed to putting the information in the description of a process step.
  • When to use decision points and ideally, how many paths should there be out of the decision.
  • Process roles – how will they be named – will the name be capitalised or sentence case? Will you have specific process roles, such as Procurement Manager, generic process roles such as Trainer or a mix of both?
  • Risks – When should risks be used and at what level of the process – the process itself or the affected process step? How will they be named – sentence case or capitalisation? What is the minimum level of information to be provided for the risk?
  • The style and use of images and any corporate style or branding guidelines that may apply.

These are just some of the style recommendations that can be put in your process modelling style guide.  For a complete style guide, create rules and guidance for all the Modeler items that are regularly used in your libraries.

What is the best way to document a process modelling style guide?

Like all documents, it is personal preference (and organisational style recommendations!) as to what the document looks like. My preference is to create a table in a document and include:

  • An image of the item type
  • A definition
  • Mandatory information
  • Example of use
  • Any guidelines or other information that will help modelers use the item type.
Next steps

When your process modelling style guide is complete, it is time to socialise it with the process modellers in your organisation to get feedback and make any necessary tweaks. The style guide is a living document and should be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure it stays in step with your modelling practices.

It takes some work to create the style guide, but once it has been created it is a valuable tool to ensure process modelling consistency across your organisation. It can also be used as a reference tool for new starters to help them get up to speed with your process modelling standards.

Need help getting started? Reach out to the team at Holocentric and we will help you get started on your process modelling style guide journey.


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