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A Standardized Approach to Modeling Business Processes

Business Process Modeling and Notation

Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN)

Business Process Modeling Notation

To change business processes and make them better, a clear understanding and communication of your organization’s current state will help you find where you can increase efficiency. A visual representation can lend support to both communicating where your processes are now and finding ways to improve them in the future.

With high-level stakeholders to IT professionals all taking a role in business process improvement, a standardized, common language is the key to success. By bridging the gap between the intention of a process and how it’s implemented, you can collaboratively identify opportunities for optimization.

A Look Back

Let’s travel back a couple of decades to 2005, when the business process management initiative (BPMI) was initially developed and merged with the object management group (OMG). OMG refined the initiative and released a new and improved version in 2011: The business process model and notation (BPMN) 2.0. This became a more detailed standard for modeling business processes. Since then, they’ve complemented it with a decision flowchart method called the “decision model and notation standard”.

Before this standardization, business process mapping could easily become confusing. Without a unified procedure for documenting processes, the whole recording methodology quickly became complicated. BPMN was created to eliminate confusion and set a standard for all business process modeling going forward.

What Is BPMN?

A BPMN is a type of business process modeling tool created to show a flowchart of specific business processes from end to end, represented by standardized symbols. Project stakeholders can use it to support the adoption of a common language to describe processes – helping avoid communication gaps. It comprehensively shows the flow of data and the associated data artifacts and activities.

BPMN models are meant to help organizations not just keep consistency in recording their business processes but take them further. Once your organization understands your existing processes, you can more easily find ways to improve efficiency by eliminating bottlenecks and slowdowns.

What’s the difference between BPMN and process intelligence?

BPMN helps visualize and standardize business processes. Meanwhile, something like process intelligence analyzes and enhances your business processes based on the actual performance data, such as SS&C | Blue Prism® Process Intelligence (BPPI).

What are the benefits of BPMN?

Benefits of Business Process Modeling & Notation (BPMN)

If you’re in business, you know how important it is to have everyone on the same page. And when communicating a complicated topic, setting standard terms and guidelines to adhere to can save you and your team a lot of unnecessary headaches.

  • Clear and transparent: Readily understandable by all business stakeholders at any level.
  • Visual: A graphical way to analyze business processes that are clear and consistent.
  • Standardized: A standard and reliable procedure for documenting processes.
  • Approachable: Conveys the components within a process using a common language.
  • Connected: Bridges the communication gap that happens between business process design and implementation.
  • Improved: Organizations can easily identify inefficiencies, bottlenecks and redundancies, helping streamline processes and optimize resource allocation.
  • Risk-reducing: BPMN helps identify potential risks and dependencies in processes.
  • Automation-ready: BPMN diagrams can serve as the foundation for automating business processes with workflow management systems or BPM software. These tools can interpret BPMN diagrams and execute processes automatically.
  • Compliant: Ensure compliance through accurate and clearly documented processes.

BPMN can help you achieve greater efficiency and agility by providing a standard and consistent way to visually represent the business processes across your organization. That, in turn, can enable a clear path for better communication, analysis and improvements.

What’s the Difference Between BPMN and BPM?

The Difference Between BPMN and BPM

BPMN’s main objective is to support business process management (BPM) by providing intuitive notations to business users and representing complex processes more simply. BPMN shows the mapping between the graphical notation and the underlying constructs of business process execution language. BPMN is like the Rosetta Stone, translating your processes so you can complete your BPM tasks faster and more consistently.

BPM is beneficial as a discipline as well as a technology. As a discipline, the BPM lifecycle includes various approaches to discover, analyze, measure and improve business processes. As a technology, BPM uses reporting tools and advanced analytics to orchestrate business processes, workflows and people.

SS&C | Blue Prism® Chorus is our BPM solution that allows users to rapidly automate processes, optimize workflows, create digital customer experiences and more. Combine that with a BPMN strategy, and you can manage content, rules, roles and analytics even easier – getting the efficient results you want sooner.

BPM

BPMN

Business process management

Business process modeling notation

Analyzes and optimizes business processes

Is the illustrative language used to achieve BPM tasks

Features of BPMN

BPMN Features

BPMN tends to use simple business process diagrams with a limited set of graphical elements. This helps simplify users’ understanding of business activities and how they flow through a process. Incidentally, most BPM solutions include BPMN in their capabilities, including our Chorus BPM platform. In Chorus, BPMN is embedded in our design studio, which is a component of the wider platform.

There are four basic categories to BPMN:

  • Flow objects: The main describing elements within BPMN consist of three core elements: events, activities and gateways.
  1. Events: When something happens (i.e., start, intermediate and end).
  2. Activities: The kind of work that needs to be done (e.g., a task, subprocess or transaction).
  3. Gateways: The forking and merging of paths depending on conditions (e.g., exclusive alternate flows, event-based paths, parallels, inclusive flows, etc.).
  • Connecting objects: Connect the sequence flow, message flow and associations.
  • Swim lanes: A visual mechanism to organize and categorize activities based on a cross-functional flowchart, consisting of a pool (a major participant in a process) and a lane (organizes and categorizes activities within a pool according to a role or function).
  • Artifacts: Allows developers to add information to the model with data objects, groups and annotation, making it more readable.

It all comes down to this: Business processes can be represented visually to help stakeholders identify any issues and room for improvement. It also helps those organizations looking to implement streamlining solutions such as intelligent automation (IA) which, incidentally, includes BPM, robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI).

Business process automation is a huge step forward for organizations looking to increase efficiency and productivity and reduce the number of repetitive tasks their people have to spend time on.

What Is BPMN Used For?

Since a BPMN diagram is meant to communicate with both non-technical business users and technical developers, it has to play ball in a lot of courts. It’s a way to provide a notation of business processes that’s intuitive to anyone but can also represent complex semantics for those with more technical expertise. It’s accessible to anyone from business analysts to technical developers and employees using tools like BPM.

How does BPMN work?

BPMN shows the steps of a planned business process fully from start to finish. It’s important because it portrays the detailed sequence flows of business activities and all the information they require to be completed.

How should I implement BPMN?

The initial stages of adopting BPMN can be daunting. You’ll need to invest a lot of time in understanding and recording your business processes while ensuring you adhere to the standards set by the BPMN. But the payoff is well worth it, especially for those organizations mired by complexities or looking to adopt intelligent digital process automation.

You can simplify these steps with automation tools such as process intelligence, process mining and task mining.

  1. Map your current business processes, highlighting any inefficiencies (also called a business process analysis).
  2. Define the scope of your process from beginning to end.
  3. Model your better business process diagrams using the BPMN specifications.
  4. Lay out your sequences, showing all associations and data flows.
  5. Tweak processes and find opportunities for continuous improvement.

Types of BPMN diagrams

The type of BPMN diagram you use will depend on the complexity and requirements of your specific business processes. You can also use a different version of the diagram for different stakeholders based on what details they need for their roles. Let’s look at three types.

  • Choreography diagram: Illustrates interactions between two or more participants, which can expand to show sub-choreographies if needed.
  • Collaboration diagram: Shows interactions between two or more processes using more than one pool. This diagram can use a combination of pools, processes and choreography.
  • Conversation diagram: This is a simpler version of the collaboration diagram, showing a group of related message exchanges within a business process; it can expand to show sub-conversations if needed.

The goal of BPMN is clear communication, and to open an easier path toward business process optimization. It also allows for further efficiency opportunities with BPM tools.

Learn more about how Chorus BPM can serve your organization in our BPM e-book.