Using BPMN diagrams: pros and cons

If you took up quite a complex business process, then sooner or later, you will come across the fact that the scheme of the process has grown and become unreadable. This can lead to an endless stream of problems. Starting from the missed deadlines and up to the unpredictable impressive costs, which can hit at the client’s pocket and eventually lead to the loss of the order.

This means that it’s time to perform the hierarchical decomposition — in other words, break the process into subprocesses. Thus, having constructed a development plan with the help of BPMN diagram, you can insure yourself against a number of unforeseen situations.

Let’s make it clear what does the BPMN mean?

Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) is a flow chart method that models the steps of a planned business process from end to end. A key to Business Process Management, it visually depicts a detailed sequence of business activities and information flows needed to complete a process.
 Its purpose is to model ways to improve efficiency, account for new circumstances or gain competitive advantage. The method has been undergoing a standardization push in the past few years and is now often called by a slightly different name: Business Process Model and Notation, still using the BPMN acronym. It differs from Business Process Mapping, which diagrams current processes for purposes such as standardization, employee training, quality management and audit compliance. BPMN also is a business counterpart to the Unified Modeling Language (UML) used in software design.

Why do we need it?

At a high level, BPMN is targeted at participants and other stakeholders in a business process to gain understanding through an easy-to-understand visual representation of the steps. At a more involved level, it’s targeted at the people who will implement the process, giving sufficient detail to enable precise implementation. It provides a standard, common language for all stakeholders, whether technical or non-technical: business analysts, process participants, managers and technical developers, as well as external teams and consultants. Ideally, it bridges the gap between process intention and implementation by providing sufficient detail and clarity into the sequence of business activities.

Who performs the BPMN?

Business Process Modeling can range from simple, hand-drawn diagrams to more involved ones with expandable elements to provide sufficient implementation detail. At its most sophisticated, BPMN is conducted by credentialed analysts. The Object Management Group (OMG) provides five certifications in BPMN 2.0 called OCEB 2, which stands for OMG-Certified Expert in BPM 2.0. One track is business-oriented, and the other is technical. OMG intends for BPMN 2.0 to standardize business process modeling in the same way that Unified Modeling Language (UML) standardized software modeling.
 BPMN requires a commitment of time and energy, but the payoff in understanding and improvement can be huge. Version 2.0 builds on previous versions by providing a richer standard set of symbols and notations, allowing more detail for those who need it.
 The idea behind Business Process Management is to create a life cycle of continuous improvement. The steps are model, implement, execute, monitor and optimize. BPMN diagrams play a key role in that.

Sub-models within a BPMN diagram

The diagrams are used to communicate with diverse audiences, both non-technical and technical. Sub-models allow the diverse viewers to easily differentiate between sections of the diagram, finding what’s most applicable to them. The types of sub-models are:

  • Private business processes. These are internal to a specific organization and don’t cross pools, or organizational boundaries.
  • Abstract business processes. These occur between a private/internal process and another participant or process. The abstract process shows the outside world the sequence of messages needed to interact with the private process. It doesn’t show the private/internal process itself.
  • Collaboration business processes. These show the interactions between two or more business entities.

Few tips to make the BPMN easier:

  • Clearly define the scope of the process with a beginning and end.
  • You might first map the current business process to highlight inefficiencies before modeling a better way with BPMN.
  • Aim for BPMN diagrams that fit on one page, even if the page is poster-sized, as some are.
  • Lay out sequence flows horizontally. Show associations and data flows vertically.
  • You can create different versions of the diagram for different stakeholders, depending on the level of detail needed for their role.
  • BPMN is not appropriate for modeling organizational structures, functional breakdowns, or data flow models. Although BPMN depicts some information flows in business processes, it’s not a Data Flow Diagram (DFD.)

Summing up, we would like to highlight that our team believes BPMN is one of the most reliable ways to develop a reliable business process and avoid risks.