Business Process Modeling Notation

February 28, 2012

As I began to research Business Process Modeling Notation, I quickly come to realize that it is widely used among the company that I am employed with. It was extremely interesting to find out how the business process modeling is used to streamline a process and understand what each symbol represents. I discovered that Business Process Modeling Notation is a standardized graphical notation for drawing business processes in a workflow. (2) The primary goal of Business Process Modeling Notation is to provide a notation that is a standard, and that can be easily understood by all business users. This includes the business analysts, who create the initial drafts of the processes, the technical developers responsible for implementing the technology that will perform those processes, and the business people who will manage and monitor those processes. Business process modeling notation creates a standardized bridge for the gap between the business process design and process implementation. Currently, there are scores of process modeling tools and methods.
A business process can be defined as the self-contained, logical order of activities that are executed for the transformation of a business object with the goal of accomplishing a given task; as key business processes are typically valuable corporate assets. Process modeling can be used to define analyses, improve and even automate these tasks, all of which support the business process management process. Effective process modeling makes use of a common naming convention and methodology, shows the integration of processes with systems, organizations and data, and supports process walkthroughs for validation. The notations of a business diagram are: Flow objects Events, activities, gateways connecting objects Sequence flow and message flow. These categories enable creation of simple business process diagrams. Business Process Diagrams also permit making new types of flow object or artifact, to make the diagram more understandable.
An Event is represented with a circle and denotes something that happens compared with an activity, which is something that is done. Icons within the circle denote the type of event. Events are also classified as Catching and Throwing. (1) Catching an incoming message, often a web service description language starts a process and throwing a completion message will end the process. Start event acts as a process trigger; indicated by a single narrow border, and can only be catch, so is shown with an open outline icon. (3) End event represents the result of a process; indicated by a single thick or bold border, and can only throw, so is shown with a solid icon. Intermediate event represents something that happens between the start and end events and is indicated by a double border that can Throw or Catch using solid or open icons as appropriate. For example, a task could flow to an event that throws a message across to another pool, where the following event waits to catch the response before continuing.
(3) An activity is represented with a rounded-corner rectangle and describes the kind of work which must be done. A task represents a single unit of work that is not or cannot be broken down to a further level of business process detail without diagramming the steps in a procedure, which is not the purpose of business process model notation. A sub-process is used to hide or reveal additional levels of business process detail. When collapsed, a sub-process is indicated by a plus sign against the bottom line of the rectangle, but when expanded, the rounded rectangle expands to show all flow objects, connecting objects, and artifacts. It has its own self-contained start and end events. Sequence flows from the parent process must not cross the boundary. Transaction forms a sub-process in which all contained activities must be treated as a whole. They must all be completed to meet an objective, and if any one of them fails, they must all be undone. Transactions are differentiated from expanded sub-processes by being surrounded by a double border. A gateway is represented with a diamond shape and determines forking and merging of paths, depending on the conditions expressed.
Sequence Flow is represented with a solid line and arrowhead, and shows in which order the activities are performed. The sequence flow may also have a symbol at its beginning; a small diamond indicates one of a number of conditional flows from an activity, while a diagonal slash indicates the default flow from a decision or activity with conditional flows. Message Flows are represented with a dashed line, an open circle at the start, and an open arrowhead at the end. It tells us what messages flow across organizational boundaries. A message flow can never be used to connect activities or events within the same pool. An Association is represented with a dotted line, and is used to associate an artifact or text to a Flow Object.
After understanding more about what the symbols represent, I actually fell a little more in tune with what the each department is trying to accomplish. If I had not been given this assignment, or taken this class, I would have not acknowledged this part of the business.

Jonathan Eric Sims

Works Cited:
1.http://help.sap.com/saphelp_nw72/helpdata/en/76/9856e633464052a47270ea6c49640a/ content.htm 2. http://www.omg.org/bpmn/Documents/6AD5D16960.BPMN_and_BPM.pdf 3. http://wiki.bizagi.com/en/index.php?title=BPMN

Jonathan Eric Sims

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