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Business Process Modeling Notation: a primer

By applBy applying diagramming conventions to process flow, Business Process Modeling Notation is a great simplifying tool (deck)

A Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) is a set of diagramming conventions that describe business processes. BPMN creates a rich visualization of business activities, process flow semantics to 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), an enterprise architecture initiative 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 can model 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)

Like a low-code platform, 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. 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.

BPEL supports the following two types of business processes.

  • Executable processes model the behavior of a participant in a business interaction. They follow the orchestration paradigm and can be executed by an orchestration engine.
  • Abstract processes use process descriptions that specify the mutually visible message exchange behavior of each of the parties involved in the protocol, without revealing their internal behavior.

BPEL models the behavior of both executable and abstract processes. Genpact SeQuence provides rich and comprehensive support for Business Process Modeling Notation. Live workflows can be exported and imported as BPMN or BPEL files, providing an activation layer that enables users to generate applications based on BPMN and BPEL modeling.

Visit our Cora SeQuence page

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  • James Luxford

    VP, Digital Solutions