Automation
Jan 23, 2019

Business Process Modeling Notation: a primer

By applying diagramming conventions to process flow, BPMN is a great simplifying tool

A Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) is a set of diagramming conventions that describe business processes by creating a rich visualization of process flow semantics and that allow independent processes to communicate. The standard for modeling both business and web service processes, BPMN is also a core enabler of Business Process Management (BPM), a new initiative in enterprise architecture that manages change to improve business processes.

Unlike object-oriented modeling techniques, BPMN takes a process-oriented approach, more conducive to the way business analysts model. BPMN is intended to supply sufficient information to allow it to be the source of an executable process.

BPMN consists of a diagram, called the Business Process Diagram (BPD), that is easy to use and understand but that still allows for modeling complex business processes. To model a workflow, you set the business process starting event, business decisions, workflow branching (gateways), and workflow outputs and results.

The primary goal of BPMN is to be comprehensible to all users. Everyone from business analysts who design processes, developers who implement the technology that performs the processes, and business managers who oversee and monitor these processes should be able to quickly understand the visualizations it produces.

Business Process Execution Language (BPEL)

As well, in the same way a low-code platform does, BPMN lets developers, analysts and business managers communicate business processes in a standard manner. BPMN has a solid mathematical foundation – the pi-calculus branch of process calculi. This formal method of computation for dynamic mobile processes allows business processes to map directly to any business modeling executable language.

That ties into the secondary goal of a BPMN: ensuring that people can easily access XML languages, such as Business Process Execution Language (BPEL), which is used to define enterprise business processes within web services.

Every company has a unique way of defining its business process flow. As a way to standardize the format so functions can work together seamlessly, BPEL assumes that all business services are web services. In that way, processes written in BPEL can orchestrate interactions between web services using XML documents.

About the author

James Luxford

James Luxford

VP, Digital Solutions

Follow James Luxford on LinkedIn