Work Notes Process Complexity

From Management Letters
  • Mason 2007: Complexity is defined as the measure of heterogeneity or diversity in environmental, sub-factors such as customers, suppliers, socio-politics and technology (Teopaco, 1993; Lane and Maxfield, 1996; Chae and Hill, 1997; Chakravarthy, 1997).
  • Business processes are complex systems of human activities that are designed and improved to create value for the customer of the process (Hannus 1994).
  • Rolland 1998 distinguishes between 3 types of processes:
  1. Strategic processes are those that investigate alternative ways of doing a thing and eventually, produce a plan for doing it.
  2. Tactical processes are those which help in the achievement of a plan. As their name implies they are more concerned with the tactics to be adopted for actual plan achievement than with the development of a plan of achievement
  3. Implementation processes are the lowest level of processes. They are directly concerned with the details of the what and how of plan implementation.

Further, he quotes Dow (1993, cited in Rolland, 1998) and distinguishes between three process domains:

  1. process model domain
  2. process performance domain
  3. process model enactment domain.

Fayoumi, in a forum post on ResearchGate, highlights the subjective nature of complexity - he highlights that complexity depends on an individual point of view. The several categories mentioned by him are:

  • Number of activities, or
  • Number of controls, or
  • Number of decisions, or
  • Number of people involved in the process, or
  • Number of organizations/departments involved in the process, or
  • The mechanism of the decision making, or
  • The number of IT systems or IT services required to fulfill the process, or
  • Level of uncertainty and potential change in any of the process activities

To some extent, he echoes discussions by Cardoso (2008), who distinguishes between:

  • Activity complexity - the tasks/steps a process is built of
  • Control-flow complexity - splits, joins, loops, etc.
  • Data-flow complexity - data mapping action between activities, how often does data need remapping, etc. how many different data structures are needed, etc.
  • Resource complexity - the amount of resources involved

Fayoumi, Amjad. (2015). Re: How can I measure Complexity on BPMN Process Diagrams?. Retrieved from: