What Is The BPMN Standard?

The Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) is a standard managed by an international organization, the Object Management Group, which is at the origin of the UML standard. Its creation dates back to 2004, and the current version is the 2.0 since 2013.

The objective of BPMN is to provide a framework for process modeling through a notation that is clear, intuitive and understandable by all. The standard enables business processes to be visualized, formalized, standardized and automated by making them readable and accessible. Thus, in an organization, engineers, managers, operational staff or consultants can communicate and instantly understand the processes drawn by speaking the same language, i.e. the BPMN standard. This standard is often used by the Low-code BPM.

The Main Basic Elements Of The BPMN Standard

The BPMN is a set of logigrams that allow us to visually understand the processes. In this example, we imagine that we want to manage a process for sending goods.

On this diagram we can see several important diagrams and figures in the BPMN standard, namely:

We will take the following example to illustrate a process in BPMN:

The “activities” that allow the execution
of a task

The “transitions” or “connections” that allow to link the different figures together

The “branches”, which allow to direct the flows towards the following steps

We can see 3 types of branches:

“Parallel” process branches that parallelize or merge the process, to indicate that tasks can be performed simultaneously.

The “exclusive” branches that direct the process to a single transition.

And the “inclusive” branches that can direct the process to one or more transitions depending on the context.

Then we have the events that are automatically triggered when certain conditions are met, such as here products that are to be sent or goods that are made available.

The “corridors” allow us to know who is in charge of doing what, by representing the participants and entities of the process, here a logistics manager, an office employee and a warehouse employee.

Illustration Of A Concrete Business Process With BPMN

To better understand how a process works in BPMN, we need to imagine a process instance, like a token that moves forward in the process, and that can split or merge according to the actions to be performed during the processing of this process instance.

In this example, we will illustrate the choice of a type of transport for the shipment of an order and the process starts with the start event “Products to be sent”.

At this point the first parallel branch splits the token in two, in order to parallelize the processing. On the one hand, the products have to be packed, on the other hand, we will start checking whether or not a special carrier should be used. The two tasks do not necessarily have to be done simultaneously, but they are processed in parallel.

We will deal with the case of choosing the type of transport. Depending on the decision made by the office worker, the process (or token) arrives at an exclusive branch, where, unlike the previous parallel branch, only one transition will need to be activated.

This can be done either through the post office or by using a special carrier.

But under no circumstances can the same order be sent via two different carriers (hence the term exclusive).

Now let’s imagine that we use the Post Office for the transport. The office employee will have the task of checking whether or not the product needs to be insured.

Depending on this choice, the inclusive branching allows us to know whether we are taking one, the other or both paths, i.e. whether we need to fill in the dispatch note, take out the insurance, or do both activities.

In our case, we will always have to fill in the form, and let’s imagine that for this instance we also have to take out insurance. In this case, both activities will be activated.

When a task is completed, for example “subscribe insurance”, the token will arrive at the second inclusive branch, which allows to wait until all tokens from the first branch have arrived before continuing the process.

Thus, the first token will remain waiting on the branch until the “complete the slip” task is completed. Once this is done, the two tokens “merge” and the process continues until it reaches the second parallel branch.

This one, like the previous “inclusive” branch, will wait until all the tokens from the first parallel branch have arrived.

Thus, when the packaging of the products is finished, the token will arrive at the parallel branch and will merge with the token that was waiting to continue the process.

Once the package is moved to the selection area, the goods are available and we have reached the end of this process.

This concrete example allowed us to illustrate, thanks to the BPMN standard, the realization of a business process with its different participants, its different tasks to be performed and its different possible choices.

What Are The Advantages Of BPM?

There are many benefits to using a BPM tool:

→ Clear, visual notation → A common format that can be automated → A unified language, understandable even outside your organization → Interoperability across multiple organizations and multiple tools → An evolving standard thanks to an active community, to meet ever-changing business needs