BPMN Forum
All Things Related to BPMN 2


BPMN Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • GENERAL
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    What is the Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN)?
    The Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) is an open standard notation for graphical flowcharts that is used to define business process workflows.
    • BPMN is derived from the synthesis of multiple business modeling notations. Originally published by the Business Process Management Initiative (BPMI) in 2004, BPMN is now being maintained by the OMG since the two organizations merged in 2005.
    • BPMN supports the specification of the sequential steps in business process workflows, along with their allocation to business roles and organizations, and their associated data object and message flows. BPMN allows a Business Analyst to precisely define the complex begin-to-end workflows of an complex enterprise business processes, such as Accounts/Payable or Accounts/Receivable processes.
    • The primary diagram of BPMN is a Business Process Diagram (BPD), which is based on flowcharting techniques customized for business processes.
    • BPMN provides a mapping to Business Process Execution Language (BPEL), so BPMN+BPEL is potentially executable (capable of automated code generation).
    BPMN & Visual Modeling Language Evolution

    BPMN & Visual Modeling Language Evolution

    Reproduced by Permission © 2003-2012 PivotPoint Technology Corp.

    Business Process Diagram (BPD) Example

    Business Process Diagram (BPD) Example

    Reproduced by Permission © 2003-2012 PivotPoint Technology Corp.

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    Why use BPMN?
    If you are a Business Analyst or Solution Architect and want to improve the precision and efficiency of your communications with fellow Business Analysts as well as other business and system stakeholders, then BPMN is an excellent choice for a lingua franca. Basic BPMN is relatively easy to read and draw without formal training, so it is an excellent choice to improve communications with Customers, Clients, Executives, Managers, Solution Architects, and other non-technical stakeholders (e.g., Operators, Users). On the other hand, Intermediate-Advanced BPMN can be learned relatively quickly (2-3 days of quality training by bona fide experts is recommended), and this level of language proficiency will facilitate communication with more technical stakeholders (e.g., Software Developers, Software Architects, Data Modelers, Data Architects).

    Here's a list of reasons why Business Analysts and Solution Architects (Business Process Architects) may want to use BPMN and a Business Process Modeling approach for their work:

    • Facilitate communication among various stakeholders across the System Development Life Cycle (see above)
    • Capture and manage corporate Intellectual Property related to enterprise business processes and system architectures
    • Compare and contrast “As Is” and “To Be” solutions
    • Provide scalable structure for business problem solving
    • Furnish rich abstractions to manage size and complexity
    • Explore multiple solutions or ideas concurrently with minimal risk
    • Detect errors and omissions early in System Development Life Cycle



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    What is Business Process Modeling (BPM)?
    Business Process Modeling (BPM) is a broad “umbrella” term that describes an Model-Based approach to Business Analysis that:
    • emphasizes visual modeling techniques for specifying Business Analysis work products as an integral part of the System Development Life Cycle (SDLC)
    • combines traditional Business Analysis best practices with rigorous visual modeling techniques
    • currently supported by a motley mix of emerging standards, including BPMN, BPEL, UML Activity diagrams, and WS-CDL (further convergence and unification is needed)
    • purports to support executable models and Service Oriented Architectures

    Note BPMN acronym overload:
    BPM = Business Process Management = Business Process Modeling
    In general, Business Process Modeling may considered a subprocess of Business Process Management
    Business Process Modeling & Model-Based Engineering

    Business Process Modeling & Model-Based Engineering

    Reproduced by Permission © 2003-2012 PivotPoint Technology Corp.

    BPM/Model-Based vis-a-vis Document-Based System Development

    BPM/Model-Based vis-a-vis Document-Based System Development

    Reproduced by Permission © 2003-2012 PivotPoint Technology Corp.



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    What changes were made during the last major revision of BPMN (BPMN 2.0)?
    • BPMN 2.0 Notation change summary:
      Addition of two new diagram types:
      • Choreography diagram
      • Conversation diagram
      Improvements to Events
      • Non-interrupting Events for a Process
      • Event Sub-Processes for a Process
    • Other BPMN 2.0 Technical Changes
      Technical changes:
      • Formal metamodel defined via Class diagrams
      • Interchange formats defined for abstract syntax model and data interchange in both XMI and XSD formats
      • XSLT transformations defined between XMI and XSD formats
      • 3 Conformance Sub-Classes defined



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    How mature is BPMN 2?
    Answer to be provided.

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    What is the relationship between BPMN and UML?
    BPMN was developed independently of the Unified Modeling Language (UML), the industry standard visual modeling language for specifying software-intensive applications. Consequently, the only formal relationship between the two visual modeling languages is that both open standards are maintained by the OMG.

    However, it doesn't take a modeling expert to ascertain that it is relatively for a savvy modeler who is fluent in both languages to translate a BPMN Business Process Diagram (BPM) into a UML 2 Activity diagram, or vice-versa. In many cases, the differences between the languages are gratuitous "syntactic sugar" (i.e., notational, not semantic), which could (and should) be resolved by a unification task force.




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    What is the best way to learn BPMN?
    Learning any new language is difficult, whether it is a natural language (e.g., Japanese, Swahili, English) or an artificial language, such as BPMN. In order to increase your likelihood of achieving BPMN language fluency, you may want to consider a multi-pronged approach to learning BPMN. For example, if you have the opportunity you may want to start off with basic BPMN hands-on training, followed up by expert coaching (mentoring) for On-The-Job training, which in turn is followed up with advanced BPMN hands-on training. For the best learning experience, ensure that all your BPMN training is taught by expert practitioners with extensive application experience on large projects, and includes frequent hands-on practice sessions and Q&A sessions.

    In addition, you should also also read voraciously about BPMN techniques and best practices, so that you can further benefit from the experience (and mistakes) of others.

    You can find a listing of selected BPMN training resources on the BPMN Training page of this web.

    You can find a listing of selected BPMN tutorials on the BPMN Tutorials page of this web.

    You can find a listing of selected BPMNpublications (including books, papers, and articles) on the BPMN Publications page of this web.



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    Which language is easier to learn, BPMN or UML?
    In relative terms, BPMN is significantly smaller and less complex than UML 2, which has 14 diagram types, and is easier to learn.


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    How can readers submit new questions for this FAQ?
    Please email your questions using the Contact page.
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  • BPMN DIAGRAMS & MODELING TECHNIQUES
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    What is a BPMN Business Process Diagram (BPD) and and how is it used?
    A Business Process Diagram (BPD) is a diagram that shows the control and data flow of a business process, where a business process is defined as a set of activities that are performed within an organization or across organizations. BPDs are the primary diagram used to specify business process workflows, and have have been part of BPMN since version 1.0.
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    What is a BPMN Choreography diagram and how is it used?
    A Choreography diagram defines business processes that include two or more business entities (i.e., B2B), so they must be modeled with a Pool for each business entity involved.

    Example to be provided.


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    What is a BPMN Conversation diagram and how is it used?
    Answer to be provided.

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    Which BPMN diagram techniques support Agile Modeling or Agile Methods (Scrum, Crystal, etc.)?
    Answer to be provided.

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    How can one translate a BPMN Business Process Diagram, or vice versa?
    Answer to be provided.

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    How can you define business Requirements in a BPMN diagram?
    Answer to be provided.

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    How can you combine a BPMN and UML model of the same software-intensive system?
    Answer to be provided.

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  • BPMN TOOLS & INTEROPERABILITY
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    What BPMN modeling tools are available?
    You can find a selected list of BPMN tools that are available on the BMN Tools page.

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    How should I select a BPMN modeling tool for my project or team?
    Since the needs of Business Process Modeling projects and teams tend to be unique, the answer to this question will vary based on your project and team requirements. However, you can find general advice regarding BPMN modeling tool selection on the BPMN Tools web.


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    What evaluation criteria should I use for BPMN modeling tool selection?
    Since the needs of Business Process Modeling projects and teams tend to be unique, the answer to this question will vary based on your project and team requirements. However, you can find an example of weighted BPMN tool evaluation criteria on the BPMN Tools web.



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    What is the difference between BPMN compliance and conformance?
    Answer to be provided.

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    What is BPMN certification, and how is it related to compliance and conformance?
    Answer to be provided.

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    Where can I find a Visio template ("stencil") for BPMN?
    You can download free Visio templates and stencils for BPMN 2.0 from the BPMN 2.0 - Free Visio Stencil and Template Download page of the Orbus Software website. (Registration and login are required for download.)

    Caveat Modeler: While these free SysML Visio templates may be a quick and inexpensive way for you and your Business Analysis team to start BPMN modeling, you should be clear that there is a fundamental difference between slick BPMN drawing tools that are clueless about BPMN's notational and semantic well-formedness rules, and executable BPMN modeling tools that enforce BPMN's well-formedness rules, model management, and model executability (e.g., workflow simulation). You can find general advice regarding BPMN modeling tool selection on the BPMN Tools web.


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    What does it mean for a BPMN model or a BPMN tool to be "executable"?
    Among visual modeling tools "executable" an umbrella term that describes one of several kinds of dynamic translation from a visual model:

    1) forward engineering (a.k.a. code generation): Forward engineering refers to the translation of a model into programming code that can be compiled and executed on a computer. In the case of SysML, several SysML modeling tools are capable of generating Object Oriented Programming Language (OOPL) code from SysML models or models in SysML's parent dialect (UML).
    2) model simulation (a.k.a. ModSim): Modeling simulation refers to the controlled interpretation of a behavioral model in discrete steps in order to imitate the behavior of the subject system. In the case of SysML, several behavioral diagrams are capable of simulation (State Machine, Activity, and Sequence diagrams), and several SysML modeling tools support model simulation either directly (within the modeling tool) or indirectly (via 3rd party plugins).
    3) constraint evaluation (a.k.a., constraint propagation, constraint enforcement): Constraint evaluation refers to the application of constraints or rules to a model in order to restrict its structure or behavior. Parametric diagrams are capable of parametric constraint evaluation, and several SysML modeling tools support parametric constraint evaluation either directly (within the modeling tool) or indirectly (via 3rd party plugins).

    You can find our more about executable BPMN modeling tools on the BPMN Tools web.


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    Why can't I interchange BPMN models between different BPMN modeling tools?
    Answer to be provided.

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  • ADVANCED BPMN TOPICS
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    What Model-Based methods and processes are compatible with BPMN?
    You can find a selected list of Model-Based methods and processes that are compatible with BPMN on the BPMN Processes page.


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    What Model-Based architecture frameworks are compatible with BPMN
    You can find a selected list of Model-Based architecture frameworks that are compatible with BPMN on the Architecture Framework Forum web.


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    What is Model Management and why is it important?
    Model Management is an umbrella term that refers to the use of Packages and related constructs to manage the complexity of large, complex Models that represent large, complex Systems. Model Management is important to a modeler because if she cannot manage the complexity of a large, complex model, there is no reason to expect she will be able to manage the complexity of a large, complex system.


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    Can BPMN and UML be used together in the same project?
    Answer to be provided.

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    Can BPMN be customized by vendors or users?
    Answer to be provided.

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    Will there be other variations or dialects of the BPMN?
    Answer to be provided.

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    What is the roadmap for a BPMN 3.0 major revision?
    Answer to be provided.

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