Step 8. The introduction of ICT for Trade Facilitation requires a careful preparation and analysis of existing processes and information flows. Business Process Analysis helps formulate the requirements and design of simplified integrated processes. It therefore is an essential element of ICT projects.

Business Process Analysis

Business Process Analysis (BPA) is a methodology for the analysis of a business with a view to understanding the processes and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of its operations. It describes the processes involved, parties participating, information exchanged and documents produced.

BPA is broadly applied by major companies in various consulting services and implementation solutions. Trade facilitation projects and the public sector can benefit from this preliminary work.

Benefits of BPA

Business process analysis can be used to achieve the following:

  • To document implicit knowledge, capture and record manual and sometimes non-documented processes, i.e. process manuals for both private and public sectors
  • To analyse individual actions, documents and data involved in international trade, which jointly or individually involve commercial, transport, regulatory and financial procedures
  • To locate problematic areas that cause delays in moving goods from seller to buyer across borders, such as unnecessary forms and documents and repetitive data elements
  • To identify opportunities for improvements, such as reducing the number of trade documents and minimizing data requirements

Relevance for trade facilitation

Cross-border trade requires multiple separate transactions to be conducted by different parties (see stakeholders) Trade facilitation aims at streamlining and simplifying processes within a region or country to reduce costs, delays and unpredictability for conducted cross-border business. Simplification efforts can however only by undertaken on the basis of a shared and correct understanding of the current situation.
BPA can be used for different usage scenarios, such as to identify bottlenecks and opportunities for improvement or training.
As a structured process analysis approach, BPA is an excellent way to describe and visualize the processes involved in diagrams and pictures that can be readily understood by those responsible for trade facilitation work. On the basis of this analysis, unnecessary steps, bottlenecks and opportunities to simplify can be identified and process improvements designed.

BPA has been used by UN/CEFACT as part of their standardization work, for example in the Buy-Ship-Pay model. This model is used as a reference for trade facilitation projects to identify the scope of a project.

Use of BPA in trade facilitation projects

BPA is therefore an important tool for many trade facilitation initiatives that require changing the underlying operations and processes. There are many different Usage scenarios for BPA in a trade facilitation context. It is also an important step in project and solution design as it provides an overview and analysis of the actual situation (As-Is), and and can help to decide on improvement of processes between parties (To-Be).


ESCAP e-learning series on BPA