Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) is a graphical representation for specifying business processes in a business process model.
Originally developed by the Business Process Management Initiative (BPMI), BPMN has been maintained by the Object Management Group (OMG) since the two organizations merged in 2005. Version 2.0 of BPMN was released in January 2011, at which point the name was amended to Business Process Model and Notation to reflect the introduction of execution semantics, which were introduced alongside the existing notational and diagramming elements. Though it is an OMG specification, BPMN is also ratified as ISO 19510. The latest version is BPMN 2.0.2, published in January 2014.
Business Process Model and Notation (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 very similar to activity diagrams from Unified Modeling Language (UML). 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 provides a mapping between the graphics of the notation and the underlying constructs of execution languages, particularly Business Process Execution Language (BPEL).
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.
BPMN is one of a number of business process modeling language standards used by modeling tools and processes. While the current variety of languages may suit different modeling environments, there are those who advocate for the development or emergence of a single, comprehensive standard, combining the strengths of different existing languages. It is suggested that in time, this could help to unify the expression of basic business process concepts (e.g., public and private processes, choreographies), as well as advanced process concepts (e.g., exception handling, transaction compensation).
Two new standards, using a similar approach to BPMN have been developed, addressing case management modeling (Case Management Model and Notation) and decision modeling, the (Decision Model and Notation).
BPMN is constrained to support only the concepts of modeling applicable to business processes. Other types of modeling done by organizations for non-process purposes are out of scope for BPMN. Examples of modeling excluded from BPMN are:
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.
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:
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.
Flow objects are the main describing elements within BPMN, and consist of three core elements: events, activities, and gateways.
Flow objects are connected to each other using Connecting objects, which are of three types: sequences, messages, and associations.
Swim lanes are a visual mechanism of organising and categorising activities, based on cross functional flowcharting, and in BPMN consist of two types:
Artifacts allow developers to bring some more information into the model/diagram. In this way the model/diagram becomes more readable. There are three pre-defined Artefacts and they are:
The vision of BPMN 2.0.2 is to have one single specification for a new Business Process Model and Notation that defines the notation, metamodel and interchange format but with a modified name that still preserves the "BPMN" brand. The features include:
The current version of the specification was released in January 2014.
|Attributes||BPMN 1.0||BPMN 1.1||BPMN 1.2||BPMN 2.0|
|Consortium||BPMI & iGrafx||OMG||OMG||OMG|
|Date of release||May 2004||January 2008||January 2009||January 2011|
|message flow||message flow|
|data objects||data object||
|Number of all elements||48||55||55||116|
The BPMN 1.2 minor revision changes consist of editorial corrections and implementation bug fixes. Consequently, these minor changes affect modeling tool vendors more than modelers (users).
Business process modeling is used to communicate a wide variety of information to a wide variety of audiences. BPMN is designed to cover this wide range of usage and allows modeling of end-to-end business processes to allow the viewer of the Diagram to be able to easily differentiate between sections of a BPMN Diagram. There are three basic types of sub-models within an end-to-end BPMN model: Private (internal) business processes, Abstract (public) processes, and Collaboration (global) processes:
Within and between these three BPMN sub-models, many types of Diagrams can be created. The following are the types of business processes that can be modeled with BPMN (those with asterisks may not map to an executable language):
BPMN is designed to allow all the above types of Diagrams. However, it should be cautioned that if too many types of sub-models are combined, such as three or more private processes with message flow between each of them, then the Diagram may become difficult to understand. Thus, the OMG recommends that the modeler pick a focused purpose for the BPD, such as a private or collaboration process.
Event-driven process chains (EPC) and BPMN are two notations with similar expressivity when process modeling is concerned. A BPMN model can be transformed into an EPC model. Conversely, an EPC model can be transformed into a BPMN model with only a slight loss of information. A study showed that for the same process, the BPMN model may need around 40% less elements than the corresponding EPC model, but with a slightly larger set of symbols. The BPMN model would therefore be easier to read. The conversion between the two notations can be automated.
UML activity diagrams and BPMN are two notations that can be used to model the same processes: a subset of the activity diagram elements have a similar semantic than BPMN elements, despite the smaller and less expressive set of symbols. A study showed that both types of process models appear to have the same level of readability for inexperienced users, despite the higher formal constraints of an activity diagram.
The weaknesses of BPMN could relate to:
The BPMN specification includes an informal and partial mapping from BPMN to BPEL 1.1. A more detailed mapping of BPMN to BPEL has been implemented in a number of tools, including an open-source tool known as BPMN2BPEL. However, the development of these tools has exposed fundamental differences between BPMN and BPEL, which make it very difficult, and in some cases impossible, to generate human-readable BPEL code from BPMN models. Even more difficult is the problem of BPMN-to-BPEL round-trip engineering: generating BPEL code from BPMN diagrams and maintaining the original BPMN model and the generated BPEL code synchronized, in the sense that any modification to one is propagated to the other.