Modelling processes

After structure comes execution. By means of 8 icons a process can be visualized unambiguously on the level of activities. These are linked by arrows to indicate the process flow. Clear and well-organized for everyone who uses it.

This process management approach is developed by Sensus Process Management

  • How am I going to reach my objectives?
  • Concretize the execution
  • Organizing: Who does what?
  • Sharing tasks and responsibilities
  • Look at processes from different points of view



Table of contents

Organizational description with eight Icons
A common mistake the average professional makes is that his/her drawings are to complex for the people they write them for. Our advise: Keep it simple, the people who read your processes are focused on the job not on process modelling technical specs .
By using these recognizable eight icons of the process-modeller everybody can read the process-flows and you as a process-modeller have all the information you need. Fast and easy.
In this paragraph the eight Icons on which the Sensus-method® depends will be explained extensively.

These Icons are:

Activity, Input Document, Choice / Gateway, Computer activity, Output Document, Trigger/Result, Archive and Process (reference).



The “Activity” Icon is the most important. Processes are primarily built on Activities. Activities are all things that have to be executed by humans. This sounds simple, but when defining an Activity people often wonder how to count or display this Activity.
In the Sensus-method® the borders are defined by describing the Activity as simple as possible. This means the Activity has to be described by a single verb and possibly a noun.
In this paragraph the eight Icons on which the Sensus-method® depends will be explained extensively. These Icons are:

Especially in administrative processes a lot of small Activities occur successively, all of them have to do with the same subject. To prevent the description to become unnecessarily long or trivial, these smaller Activities can be put together in a single, larger Action

Flow 2 Activiteitkopie

The adding of Activities is only possible as long as there is but a single continuation action or document linked to them. The following example shows “Copying, sending and archiving letter”. One Document and one Archive are used.



Input Documents and Output Documents

Within the Sensus-method® two similar red Icons exist, but their uses are very different. These are the Input documents and Output Documents. The shape of the Icons is the same, but they are 180 degrees turned with respect to each other.

A Document is an entity (a piece of paper, a map, a computer file), which contains information. A Document must have an official status within a company (draft paper is not a Document). Describing all Documents and Archives makes the total flow of Documents and information visible. To document the direction of the information flow, two different types of Documents are used in the method.


Input Documents contain information needed within the Process for the following Action(s).

Output Documents are made in the Process and therefore contain information gathered in the preceding Action.

A Process can never start with an Output Document, and never finish with an Input Document. Documents in process description are given the same names as the documents in the actual organization. This is essential for the recognizably of the described process.

Flow 2


A lot happens with Documents within an organization. Documents enter and leave several Processes. To display the direction of the Document in respect to the action arrows are used in the Sensus-method®. If a Document enters a Process, the Document is placed in front of the Action, and the arrow points from the Document to the Action. The relation between the Document and the Action decides whether a Document is an Input or Output Document.



If a Document is made in a Process (Output), and then enters another Process (Input), the Document will change type.



Please note: When the type of a Document changes, it is not necessary to describe it again.


Computer activity

A Computer Activity is comparable to a normal Activity , although a computer is used. So for describing the Activity a verb and possible a noun are used, which in this case concern a computer. A computer action represents the interface between the user of the computer and a data processing application, such as a customer database, a production database or an administrative application. Computers are growing ever more important in any organization. This makes them more important in describing processes.




Choice / (Gateway)

A Choice is a technical crossroads in process description. To visually show that the process can go in multiple directions after a choice, a Choice Icons is added. A Choice basically is a yes or no question. The question often consists of a single word. A Choice is often called a decision or evaluation.

Flow 8

A Choice Icon should follow the Action in which the actual choice is made.

Flow 9

A Choice can never have less than two continuation Activities. Another Choice may occur after a Choice.



A Choice always follows an Action, and is always related to the preceding Action. In the last example this relation is not made entirely clear. It is clearer to split the Action like in the next example, such that the Choice is completely related to the preceding Action.

Flow11 Flow12







The gray Icon can be used in two ways. It can be used as either a trigger or a result. A Trigger/Result gives the start or result of a process or action, which is not a document. When the Icon is used as a trigger, it may be used for people who start a process; a customer comes to the reception and requests information. Another example of a trigger is a phone call, which starts a process.


The gray Icon can be used as the result of a process or action. For example when working with products and semi-finished products.


Process (reference)

The Process reference (connector) is used to link Processes and to delimit them, which can be quite complex. It is possible that, whilst running a Process, another Process is started. This second Process is run to completion, and it has an effect on the first Process, which is then completed. Processes can take place consecutively. The Process reference can be used in three ways.

For this example the following applies: Process B always follows Process A. No other Process follows A. and no other Process precedes B.



For this example the following applies: Process A is interrupted, Process B is run to completion, and Process A is then continued.


The Processes A, B and C are followed by Process K. Process K follows multiple processes, maybe even more than just A, B and C


Preceding example is relatively easy; a short process is added by means of arrows. However, in larger or more complex Processes, it may be more useful to not add the Process completely Instead, the Process reference Icon is added.

FLow16 Flow17




The last and probably the simplest Icon is the Archive Icon. An Archive is an official location where employees can store and retrieve Documents (information). This makes an Archive the exchange point of information. An Archive can be tangible or digital.

An Archive is an object such as a map or a piece of furniture, or a location such as a location on a digital network where Documents are stored. When giving a name to an Archive the type of archive (map, rack) or the title or contents can be used.


An Archive can be used to store Documents, and to retrieve them. Flow19

Clarification: An Archive can be a tangible object, or a digital storage medium.



Documents can be put in an Archive, and they can also be retrieved. A Document can leave a Process by entering an Archive, but it may also enter a Process when it is retrieved from an Archive.





About Processes

The Icons are connected with arrows. These arrows indicate the order in which the Activities and Computer activities take place. But they also indicate the direction of the information flows. When a Document is situated before the Activity it means the information is needed to perform the Activity. If an archive is placed after a Document it means the Document is stored in the Archive.


A Complication is that Processes can be running in several phases simultaneously, and may cross itself. For example, the internal mail is delivered twice daily. This mail contains customer’s invoices, and invoice, which are initialed by the Board. Uninitialed mail must be sent to the Board after they have been checked. The Board sends them back after they have been initialed.

Intuitively two kinds of invoice are handed in, and each of them gets a separate treatment. The real invoice goes through the Process as displayed in the Figure.


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