BPMN (Business Process Model and Notation) is a graphical language for specifying business processes
Documenting processes is key to creating a resilient, scalable company
Clearly documented processes help onboard new colleagues and facilitate smooth transition when experienced employees leave the company. Process diagrams provide best practices to your business and enable process improvement initiatives. They serve as a repository of business knowledge and prove crucial for process quality and regulatory compliance audits.
Using Powerpoint or Visio is not enough
While it might seem the easiest to draw up process diagrams in Word, Powerpoint or Visio, these tools are not really up to the task. Firstly, they lack semantics to describe complex business processes involving waiting times, exceptions, approvals and modern IT architectures. Secondly, these static diagrams inevitably diverge from the real-life processes as the time passes. Every company that went through ISO 9001 certification realized that by the time an audit approaches, dust needs to be shaken off old process diagrams in the drawer.
You need a machine-readable process modelling language
In order to link process diagrams with what is really happening in the business, you need a modelling language that is not only understandable to humans but also machine-readable. Early approaches attempts to create digital process twins, experimented with in 2000s, failed because they put the burden of updating process status on employees, which were naturally reluctant to accept this additional administrative burden. Therefore, in order to be successful in creating digital twins, businesses need to use software programs to link actual processes with their models.
BPMN combines graphical representation with a machine-readable XML layer.
BPMN is an accepted standard
BPMN, originally developed by the Business Process Management Initiative, is currently maintained by the Object Management Group, which was founded by some of the world’s leading IT companies and experts including HP, IBM, Apple and others. It is ratified as an ISO standard (ISO 19510) and is widely used by business process management experts globally.
BPMN models are process optimization engines for us, we gain transparency into how complex a process is, and we get ideas on how to simplify it. With this end-to-end view and this increased transparency, we are able to make process improvements
- Vice President for service IT at a major telecommunications company
BPMN provides a common ground for different stakeholders
BPMN provides a notation that is intuitive to business users, yet it is able to represent complex process semantics. It provides common standard notation readily understandable by business analysts, technical developers and business managers. It helps to avoid communication gaps that can arise between business process design and implementation.
There is an ecosystem of applications around BPMN
Being an open standard, BPMN does not require expensive proprietary software. There is an ecosystem of great free tools available to edit BPMN diagrams and collaborate on their creation. The standard is also supported by most Business Process Management applications.
BPMN model is the first step towards creating digital process twins
Because it is machine-readable, BPMN can be used by process orchestration applications which store the real-time status of the business process. As such, documenting processes in BPMN is the first step towards implementing a workflow engine, which is at the core of creating a digital process twin.