Business Process Model & Notation (BPMN) is like a flow chart on steroids.
It’s the one true way to graphically map your processes and is a globally-recognized, standardized method. In other words, it’s information any business looking to draw reliable process maps needs to know.
When you map your processes (especially with a standardized method like BPMN), you start being able to:
- Get a clear vision of exactly how everything in your business works
- Save time by eliminating unnecessary tasks
- Reduce the rate your employees forget, overlook, or wrongly execute work
So, what exactly is it?
I compared it to a flow chart but much more than that: it has the functionality for representing things like information moving between teams, data being stored on the cloud, and departments working in parallel on the same process.
Although, at its simplest, a process map drawn with BPMN looks like this:
BPMN makes it easy to understand the flow without actually understanding the exact symbols because it’s a simple, intuitive method.
It has been under active development since 2004, and is now widely accepted as the way to draw process maps. That’s because:
- It’s simple and easy to understand at a glance
- It’s precise, with a wide range of symbols to cover every use case
- It’s designed to model both human-centric and IT processes with equal accuracy
The main scope of BPMN, as described by Trisotech:
“It provides businesses, with the capability of understanding their internal business procedures in a graphical notation, and gives organizations the ability to communicate these procedures, in a standard manner”
On the scope of this BPMN tutorial:
If you’re going to take a stab at mapping your business processes but don’t know where to start with transferring the rough notes and sketches into maps anyone can use, this is the article for you. It will get you acquainted with the basic concepts, and also give you references to deeper documentation you can use if you need it.
Overall, this guide will work as a standalone for the majority of uses cases startups and small businesses face.
The history of BPMN
Business Process Model and Notation was originally developed under another name in 2000 by the Business Process Management Initiative — a non-profit organization founded by industry BPM leaders from companies like Ernst & Young and Versata.
The aim was to standardize how processes were visually represented, and that aim has been carried on since 2004 by Object Management Group — a NFP technology standards consortium, snappily abbreviated as OMG.
As businesses change — and IT becomes more vital — OMG keep BPMN updated, and able to handle new kinds of processes. At the time of writing, we’re on BPMN 2.0, which defines more symbols and map types to represent the real ways modern organizations get work done.
Learning BPMN is similar to learning a programming language; while you can read overviews and short quick-start guides or watch video tutorials, the best thing you can do to get to grips is make sure you understand the basics, then Go to the full article.