Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) is a graphical representation for specifying business processes in a business process model.

BPMN is a standard for business process modeling that provides a graphical notation for specifying business processes in a Business Process Diagram (BPD), based on a flowcharting technique.

The objective of BPMN is to support business process management, for both technical users and business users, by providing a notation that is intuitive to business users, yet able to represent complex process semantics.

The BPMN specification also aims to bridge the communication gap between business process design and implementation. In fact, BPMN has been designed to provide a standard notation readily understandable by all business stakeholders, typically including business analysts, technical developers and business managers.

BPMN can therefore be used to support the generally desirable aim of all stakeholders on a project adopting a common language to describe processes, helping to avoid communication gaps that can arise between business process design and implementation.

Why is BPMN valuable?

Standard

BPMN is not owned by a certain enterprise but by an institution (OMG), which is already established through other world-wide standards, e.g., UML. The standard is supported by many software products; you are less dependent on any particular vendor’s products.

Simplicity

The principle behind BPMN is rather simple which is why you can start working with this notation very quickly.

Power of expression

If necessary, you can describe precisely how a process functions with BPMN. However, this is more difficult than only roughly describing the process. This way of precise modeling is possible, but not mandatory.

Implementation in IT

BPMN has been primarily developed to support technical implementation of processes (“Process Automation”). The more important the IT is in a company, the more helpful the use of BPMN becomes.

What is the scope of BPMN?

BPMN is constrained to support only the concepts of modeling applicable to business processes. Other types of modeling done by organisations for non-process purposes are out of scope for BPMN.

Examples of modeling excluded from BPMN are:

  • Organizational structures

  • Functional breakdowns

  • Data models

In addition, while BPMN shows the flow of data (messages), and the association of data artifacts to activities, it is not a data flow diagram.

What are the elements in BPMN?

BPMN models are expressed by simple diagrams constructed from a limited set of graphical elements. For both business users and developers, they simplify understanding of business activities' flow and process. BPMN's four basic element categories are:

  • Flow objects
    Events, activities, gateways

  • Connecting objects
    Sequence flow, message flow, association

  • Swim lanes
    Pool, lane

  • Artifacts
    Data object, group, annotation

These four categories enable creation of simple business process diagrams (BPDs). BPDs also permit making new types of flow object or artifact, to make the diagram more understandable.

More resources on BPMN:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_Process_Model_and_Notation

https://www.lucidchart.com/pages/bpmn

https://www.omg.org/spec/BPMN/2.0/About-BPMN/

https://camunda.com/bpmn/

https://www.omg.org/spec/BPMN/2.0/PDF

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