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Beginners Guide to BPMN: Business Process Model and Notation

Creating a visual representation and mapping of how your business processes should be completed.
Business Process Model and Notation

So what do we mean when we talk about Business Process Model and Notation? Simply put it is a method of creating a visual representation and mapping of how your business processes should be completed. The main purpose of BPMN is to improve efficiency.

The world of process modelling can be confusing for someone unfamiliar with the process mapping. This method of illustrating business processes is comparable to a flowchart as it shows them in the form of a simple diagram.

Business Process Model and Notation is quickly becoming the most popular process modelling methods. It is helping to make process mapping more user friendly and easier to understand, via standardised symbols in a graphical representation of a process. A diagram can be much easier to understand and follow than text.

Process modeling is a key part of business process management (BPM)

History of BPMN

The methodology was developed in August 2000 initially by 16 business industry leaders the Business Process Management Initiative (BPMI) a non-profit organisation to promote the standardisation of common business processes. Initially known as “business process modeling notation.” changing it name in 2011, to “Business Process Model and Notation.” and now run but the Object Management Group

What is the difference between flowcharts and BPMN?

Flowcharts can be used to map a business process but it has no set of agreed modelling rules and symbols. There are commonly used symbols, but everyone has the option to create diagrams the way they see fit.

BPMN is accomplished in the same way you would make a flowchart process map, but with the variation that BPMN uses its own elements and symbols.

BPMN has rules that are the foundation for modelling business processes. These rules make it understandable to a wider audience and easier to communicate it across departments and organisations. It enables you to create more complex business process patterns, such as those with exceptions, decisions and events.

How Do I Create a BPMN Diagram?

These are the four element types used for business process diagrams:

Flow: Objects, events, activities, and gateways

Denoting a specific activity or event. Represented by such as rectangles, diamonds and circle.

Three Different Flows:

Event: Represented by circles containing other symbols based on the event type. These can be Start, Intermediate or End each performing as a trigger to start or complete a process.

Activities: Represented by a rectangle with rounded corners and displays the task or a sub-process that needs to be done.

Gateway: Represented with a diamond that determines decisions, merging and joining of paths

Connections: Objects, sequence, message, and association

Connections to flow objects to show a process direction.
Appearing as dotted, dashed or solid lines, arrows.

Three different types of connection objects:

Sequence Flow: Represented as a straight line with an arrow showing the order of the activity.

Message Flow: Represented with a dashed line with a circle at the start and an arrow at the end.

Association: Represented with a dotted line showing the association of an Artifact, data or text to a Flow Object.

Swimlanes: Pool or lane

Represented by a big rectangle which contains many Flow Objects, Connection Objects and Artifacts

The lanes are used to organize more precisely their function being to divide flow objects into groups that have related functions

Artifacts: Data object, group, annotation

Adding additional information

Three different types of artifacts
Data object – Indicate what data is required for that activity.
Group – used to group different activities
Annotation – Give additional notes / guidance

It uses a simple instinctive method to allow people to understand the flow without necessarily understanding the precise symbols.

Other diagram types

Choreography diagram: Interactions between two or more participants.

Collaboration diagram: Interactions between two or more processes, using more than one pool.

Conversation diagram: Simplified version of a collaboration diagram showing related message in a business process.

5 Key Benefits Using Business Process Model and Notation

Improved Efficiency:

Every business wants to achieve the maximum results possibly with the resources available. The models function is to improve business processes. As a result this will lead to higher efficiency, productivity, output, and subsequently profits.

Transparency:

One goal is having everyone in the company aware of how the process works. More people will know what the aims and methods are, and as who owns what process becomes clear, transparency will rise.

Best-Practices and Standardisation:

Operating a big business can mean there is a strong possibility varying teams are doing the same process differently. Generating a best-practice design makes sure everyone knows how to efficiently complete a process and deliver it to the desired standard.

Flexibility:

Once your company is experienced in using the system, it can encourage a culture of innovation and change. Armed with the ability to quickly and easily tweak business operations, you will be more flexible and able to evolve in the face of a challenge or threat

Competitive advantage:

These benefits cited above can lead to a substantial competitive advantage for a company. Investing time and effort to create a BPMN by recording, simulating, and improving their business process can make you more efficient and better than your competitors.

Conclusion & Things To Consider

Hopefully, this guide has caused you to consider your own process maps and given you an initial insight into business process model and notation. While it can improve business processes and it may appear simple, it could take some learning and practice to get to grips with it.

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