The EPC diagram is (at heart) a flowchart that is used in a business process modelling system. Having evolved from the Architecture of Integrated Software Systems, their use is predominantly to analyse and improve business processes as well as to facilitate enterprise resource planning.
In summary, the EPC diagram is a very complex diagram that shows various business processes in terms of work flows. The diagram is created by using specific tools that are specifically designed to facilitate the process.
The workflows are then identified as events and functions which are connected by various people/teams and tasks that enable the execution of the business processes.
Shapes are used to represent various segments of the EPC, so it evolves into a very effective visual diagram, which conveys very detailed and often intricate information in a form that is straightforward.
The beauty of this is that it is a very fast procedure. To ‘draw’ an EPC diagram or to manually have to input data to create this type of information flow would take some time, but this software eliminates the time needed to create a business process model. In fact the tools supplied almost create an automatic system for improvement throughout an organisation.
Different Segments of An EPC
Events: The events listed in an EPC are the beginning and end of the EPC. So the event is the beginning and end of the business process. These are usually passive and do not in themselves require any action. Events are all hexagonal.
Functions: The functions that are included are the more active parts of the EPC. They detail the duties or tasks that the company perform. So they act as the means of describing activities. Depiction of a function is done by using rounded rectangles.
Organisation Units: The units (ellipses which have a vertical line) are the team or individuals who are responsible for each function.
Materials/resources/information: These are rectangles that represent real things and objects that feed into the functions.
Logical connector: Connectors relate the logical relationship that exists between the events and functions and they describe different branches/forks etc in the control flow of a business process.
Control flows: These dashed arrows create a sense of joining all the different functions, connectors and events etc. They show a time sequence and how some elements are interdependent.
There are various other symbols and segments to the EPC, which include information flows, process paths and unit assignments which all serve to provide an in-depth analysis of the business process as a whole. However, the 3 most critical elements/segments of an EPC are the functions, events and the connectors. These form the foundations for the rest of the EPC diagram.
The Benefits Of The EPC Diagram To Businesses
The EPC is so complex and detailed that it is able to cope with extremely diverse and complex businesses processes. Many business process involve different time sequences, many different units who input into the process and different activities. This results in the need for a very detailed diagram that can represent the various elements in a way which is easy to understand (although by its very nature the diagram will be complicated).
The multifaceted approach to analysing a business process ensures that it all aspects are clearly indicated and thus it is easy to see where there is inefficiency or duplication of tasks/inputs or even where time may be wasted.
It is very much a technological solution to business improvement and one which undoubtedly evolve with time so that the process becomes even more thorough and systematic.