BPMN – Business Process Model and Notation

Streamlining efficient business processes

If you are into your own business, selling products and services, chances are that you will always need a structure to your process and approach. There are a number of processes that people follow, according to their needs and requirements but the Business Process Model and Notation is a standard diagramming method that has been in process for quite some time now

BPMN Example
Image Source: ConceptDraw

For those who are getting into their own businesses and have been inquisitive about the Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) and everything there is to know about it, don’t worry, this article provides with insight into everything.

What is Business Process Model and Notation?

Business Process Model and Notation is a flow chart based diagramming procedure that helps provide a visual representation of the entire sequence of events involved in a planned business process from end to end.

It helps provide with a complete representation of every last information that goes into making a streamlined business process and executing the same accordingly.

The main objective behind designing a BPMN is to help enhance the overall productivity of the business, have backups and a planned procedure for any kind of new circumstances and even gain some competitive advantage in the market.

The process has been undergoing a lot of standardisation and has since then gained the term of Business Process Model and Notation.

What does the history entail?

You’d be surprised to know that the history of the BPMN doesn’t date back to the past decades but has been developed quite recently.

The BPMN was developed by the Business Process Management Initiative (BPMI) initially, following which it underwent a number of revisions over the course of time.

Later the association merged with Object Management Group in 2005 and 2011 following which the BPMN 2.0 was released. This was when the name was changed from Business Process Model to Business Process Model and Notation.

The process included a lot of detailed standards for the business process unlike anything else.

Later in 2014, the same was again complimented with the inclusion of the Decision Model and Notation Chart which further aids the seamless flow of information.

What are the symbols and elements involved in a BPMN chart?

Like every other diagramming chart that you come across, even this one has a number of specific signs, symbols and elements which have been found to play a very crucial role in the overall process.

Each of the shape and symbols have their own set of meaning which play a very significant role when it comes to deciphering the overall chart without any further issues.

There are several categories under the representation that is under BPMN. Some of the most important ones include:

  • Event types
  • Event symbols
  • Activity symbols
  • Gateway symbols

1. Event types

As the name suggests, the event types helps in clear representation of any kind of event included in the business process.

  • Start event symbol: This is represented by a single circle and signals the initiation of an event
  • Intermediate event symbol: This is represented by two concentric circles and signifies the events that take place in between the start event and the end event
  • End event symbol: This is represented by a darkened ring like circle which signifies the end event of the process

2. Event symbols

The event symbols are the ones that help signify specific events that are supposed to take place throughout the process. There are a number of specific signs and symbols that represent different factors and different approaches to the event.

  • Message symbol: This is what triggers any process, keeps a process in function and then ends it with the completed event
  • Timer symbol: This signifies the time that triggers the start of a process, the ongoing event or even the time required for the completion of an event
  • Escalation symbol: This symbolizes the escalation of one event from one to the next. It is often represented in the sub process and is mainly included when someone of authority is included in the business process.
  • Link symbol: Signifies the presence of any kind of sub-process under any of the larger events
  • Conditional symbol: Signifies the initiation of a process when any kind of business rule or target is met and completed
  • Cancel symbol: Helps denote any kind of transaction that was cancelled in the sub-process. It signifies the simple cancellation of events
  • Error symbol: Signifies any kind of error caught throughout the business process and helps in better understanding of this that could be interrupting the containing process
  • Compensation symbol: Signifies any sort of initiated refund that is issued when a process fails to work around
  • Terminate symbol: Helps trigger the immediate cessation of a process that could otherwise prove problematic for the process

3. Activity symbols

These are the symbols that help signify specific activities and work that take place around the overall process. They can signify either the tasks, sub-processes or even the transactions and call activities.

  • Task symbol: This signifies the most basic initiation for the activity or event involved in a business process
  • Sub-process symbol: This helps point out a group of tasks that fit together well and perform well enough as well
  • Transaction symbol: Includes a specialized sub-process that often does involve the prospects of payments as well
  • Call symbol: Signifies the global sub-process which undergoes several re-usage along the entire process of the business

4. Gateway symbols

Lastly, the gateway symbols are the ones that helps define the flow through the entire business process.

  • Exclusive symbol: Helps evaluate the state of the business process and promotes the break of the flow into multiple or even single mutual paths involved.
  • Event based symbol: A lot similar to the exclusive gateway, this signifies the occurred events irrespective of whether the same has met the conditions or not
  • Parallel symbol: Helps signify the presence of two ongoing parallel tasks in a business flow
  • Inclusive symbol: Helps in breaking down a single process into either one or multiple flows
  • Complex symbol: Helps signify the presence of the most complicated events or processes involved in a business flow

Why should you opt for business process models?

It is a common myth that people think there is no need for a business process model when in reality, that is not how it works. Having done a BPMN can actually help streamline a lot of tasks without any confusion at all.

That said, some of the common reasons why you should opt for the business process model include:

It helps reflect the process

Every business model runs on a defined process and having a visual representation of the same from start to the end can further help streamline the results. It helps in getting a closer look into the possible loopholes and even find the issues involved in a model that needs rectification. If you have been stuck with a business model that hasn’t been providing with good results, having sort out a BPMN helps reflect the entire process in front of your eyes.

Enables better communication

Another amazing reason why the use of BPMN is so justified is because it enables better communication among the subjects involved in the process. It provides with a better way of demonstration and assures easy access for everyone involved, thus ensuring that one can communicate even when they are not physically present there at the moment. It assures that all the involved parties in the business process have equal say in the process.

Better up to date models

Lastly, one of the most important factors why the business models are required is because they provide with an updated insight into the process as the time passes. This means that every single process involved in the same will come with the edits and the updates as the time passes, ensuring better ease of work without catering to the loopholes further.

Additionally, the use of the BPMN has also been found to help bring forth better control and consistency in a process, ensuring that the people managing the task have a better insight into the process and authority as well, thus promoting streamlined benefits along the same. It also improves the overall operational efficiencies, for better results and success rate unlike anything else. You also do gain competitive advantage from the process, which is again an added bonus.

If you have been wondering how to draw up a BPMN, there are a number of available software that streamlines the process for you. Not just that, you can even whip things up from scratch, based off of your requirements and needs. Just make sure that you and your team have a complete knowledge of the symbols and the connecting factors so as to ensure an ease of understanding of the entire process.

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