Process modelling complicated and time-consuming? Not with the Brown Paper Method!

by | 5 December 2023

Process modelling, you may have been working on it for your business. And maybe, like many, you mostly found it to be something very complicated and time-consuming. Process modelling, also known as BPM or Business Process Modelling, is a collection of methods and techniques for mapping business processes.  Despite having a lot of valuable techniques such as BPMn2.0, it can indeed be quite complicated, especially if you want to go into great detail.

Nevertheless, there is also a method that can give you quick and efficient insight into the bottlenecks of a particular process in your company.  The Brown Paper method is such a powerful tool. This approach uses a simple and visual approach and thus allows to increase cooperation and understanding within teams.

What is the Brown Paper Method?

The Brown Paper Method, also known as the Brown Paper Audit or Brown Paper Planning, is a simple and user-friendly technique that focuses on visualising business processes on large sheets of brown paper. It is a participatory method that brings team members together to collectively understand the steps, decisions and lines of communication within a process.

Why Brown Paper?

– Simple visualisation: The brown sheets act as a blank canvas on which processes can be outlined, making complex details understandable.

– Collaboration and commitment: The method encourages team engagement and cooperation as team members jointly map the processes, leading to a shared understanding.

– Flexibility and adaptability: The use of physical sheets of paper makes it easy to make adjustments and changes during the modelling session, keeping the process flexible and dynamic.

How do you get started?

Would you also like to experience the benefits of the Brown Paper Method and gain a deeper understanding of your business processes? Here are some steps to get started:

  1. Identify the process to be modelled

Choose a specific business process you want to analyse and optimise. This can range from operational workflows to customer service processes.

  1. Invite the right stakeholders

Bring together key stakeholders and team members involved in the chosen process. Diverse perspectives contribute to a comprehensive understanding.

  1. Gather necessary materials

Provide large sheets of brown paper (or make sure you can work on a wall, or sheets of white paper e.g. flip chart), post-its in different colours, markers and other necessary materials. A spacious meeting room with enough space to stick and write is essential.

  1. Delineate the scope of the process

Clearly define who will initiate the process, what outcome it will lead to and for whom it is intended. The SIPOC method can help with this. You can read more about it in my blog on SIPOC.

  1. Brainstorm and identify the happy flow

Start the session by brainstorming all the activities taking place in the process. Have team members use post-its to jot down ideas and stick them on the paper. Look for the happy flow: what would is the ideal process flow when everything is going well in the current circonstances?

  1. Link “who” and “how” to each activity

Below the line of activities, place a line of post-its and put in it who actually performs that activity. Below that, you can link to how this is done: is there a procedure attached to it? Or do they use a particular IT system?

  1. Facilitate discussion and feedback

Encourage open discussions and feedback during the process. This creates a deeper understanding and provides an opportunity to identify bottlenecks or inefficiencies.

  1. Document and implement

After completing the workshop: document the findings and identify possible improvements. Then implement the desired changes in the process.

Ready for optimisation!

Conducting a Brown Paper Workshop is not just an exercise in process modelling; it is an opportunity to bring teams together, increase understanding and set joint goals for process optimisation. So, what are you waiting for? Grab those big sheets of brown paper, invite your team and discover the simplicity of process modelling with the Brown Paper Method.

Together, we can make processes clearer, strengthen collaboration and improve efficiency.

Ready for the challenge?

Let’s brown paper it!

For more info: contact me for a free introduction: