Introduction To BPMN 2.0

What Is BPMN?

Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) is a global standard for constructing process models, with more organizations using it and schools teaching it as a subject.

BPMN is owned and designed by Object Management Group® (OMG®). OMG has been responsible for the standardization of BPM and adopted the Business Process Model & Notation (BPMN) specification, which is designed to be easily understood by all (both technical and business) stakeholders of a process. It is supported by numerous software products, meaning an organization would not be tied to any specific vendor if they chose to implement BPMN processes.

Adopting BPMN, with its library of notations, implies that processes can be described accurately and precisely. When processes are described using this notation, they can be implemented (automated) seamlessly. Think of BPMN as a language for defining processes, with its own structure and syntax. By presenting processes using the BPMN format, businesses are better able to analyze, automate and optimize their processes. It is open source, meaning that its source code is available to change and use by anyone.

The latest version, 2.0 was released in early 2011, with each previous version having its own official specification.  

An example of a diagram drawn using BPMN 2.0 is shown below:

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Sample Business Process Model using BPMN 2.0

Guidelines of BPMN Modelling

Authors Mendling, Reijers, and van der Aalst provided guidelines of modeling in general in 2009, which are applicable to BPMN modelling. Here are some of the guidelines:

  1. Don’t try to use all the elements on your process model. Use a few for ease of understanding and readability

  2. Use routing paths moderately - these are depicted using gateways

  3. Your diagram should only have one start and one end event

  4. Use subprocesses to decompose complex models for readability

BPMN has not been without its own share of troubles. It’s been criticized for being too complex (with over 100 unique elements) and having too much to learn. It’s also been criticized for being too granular. One way around this, is to stick to a handful of symbols so that’s there’s never really that much to learn. Diagrams may then be extended where necessary, when needed for IT implementation.

Despite the criticism, it is still widely implemented and desired across numerous organizations.