BPMN, or the ‘Business Process Model and Notation’, is a method for mapping out the approach to a business process; that is, creating a visual representation of a complex business practice or process flow. This is designed to give major stakeholders the clarity and perspective required to make informed decisions, just as a well-drawn map can help you to figure out the best possible route to your destination.
The essence of BPMN involves establishing the location of individual processes and departments, along with their relationships to each other. This style of diagramming is generally easier to understand than narrative text, allowing users to explain relationships that may otherwise require experts to interpret. The right BPMN tool could even do wonders for your organization’s planning efficiency.
Developed by the Business Process Management Initiative, BPMN can be a highly valuable tool for a variety of stakeholders, including:
External teams and third parties
BPMN diagrams can provide these actors with the terminology to communicate their ideas and make decisions with a much greater sense of perspective. This in turn can ease collaboration and even boost morale, since everyone will be able to see the purpose and benefits of their own contributions.
How Does BPMN Work?
In essence, business process modeling techniques are a lot like flowcharts, just slightly more complex. They utilize graphical notation to outline process steps, the placement of departments and so on in order to create blueprints for businesses. Observers can then pinpoint specific areas in order to understand how they relate to each other, as well as how they can be improved.
A BPMN model is made up of ‘pools’ and ‘swimlanes’. There will be multiple swimlanes within a single pool, with each representing different participants and responsibilities. Tasks and information can also flow between swimlanes, affecting them simultaneously. It goes without saying that different factors within a business are never entirely independent; by understanding the connections between them, you can get a clearer perspective of how the business works and how prospective changes may impact it. You can also understand how information and activities flow towards the endpoint of a process, such as a finished product or service.
A key part of this process is the terminology of BPMN. This can be applied to models of varying complexity, from simple hand-drawn diagrams to huge complex blueprints. Each will utilize the same shapes and terminology in order to make the finished blueprint accessible to all.
BPMN depicts four element types for business process diagrams:
Events: Triggers which start, modify or complete processes, such as receiving a message or escalating an issue
Activities: Tasks performed by people or systems. These can also include subprocesses, loops, compensations, multiple instances and so on
Gateways: Decision points which can adjust paths. For example, a single decision could cause a process to go down Path A or Path B, leading to very different endpoints
Sequence flow: The order of activities to be performed
Message flow: Messages that flow across pools or organizational boundaries
Associates: Artefacts or text within an event, activity or gateway
Pools and swimlanes:
Pool: A major participant in a process. Different pools could represent separate departments or companies, though they will still be linked to the same process
Swimlane: Areas within a single pool. They show activities and flows for certain roles and participants. They also define who is accountable for which parts of the process
Data object: These will show what kind of data is required for an activity
Data group: These will show a logical group of activities but will not change a diagram’s flow
Annotation: Further explanation to any part of a diagram (like comments in a document)
How can a BPMN Certification Help my Organization?
BPMN offers a number of potential advantages to businesses of all sizes. The essence of its offering is clarity, helping users to determine objectives and processes in a way that will allow them to control their organizations with a greater sense of perspective. Once a business is familiar with the terminology of BPMN, it can also enjoy clearer communication between different stakeholders and departments.
A crucial aspect of this is BPMN’s ability to link technical and non-technical audiences with a single, clear language. Sub-models can also be created to allow actors to view sections and pieces of information which are relevant to them, without having to make a business’s entire model transparent to all employees.
There are also a number of other potential benefits to consider:
Align IT operations and software development with business strategies: As crucial as IT is to modern businesses, its complexities can often cause difficulties for decision makers. Lacking the same knowledge as IT managers, they may struggle to see where IT fits in with wider business priorities. BPMN solves this problem by making IT and its position within a business easier to understand
Improve operational efficiency and cut down on wastage: With a greater understanding of a business’s processes and relationships, decision-makers will be in a much better position to boost efficiency wherever they can. With all processes fully optimized, the business can enjoy greater productivity, a more cost-effective utilization of resources and a mindset of continuous optimization
Enable quicker changes to the business: Businesses face new challenges all the time, such as changes to technology or new initiatives by competitors. The clarity offered by BPMN can make it easier to adapt to these challenges, allowing businesses to eliminate expensive guesswork
Improve process communication and perspective: BPMN terminology and documentation can make team members certain of what they need to do, as well as how and why. This can also enable rapid knowledge transfer, making it easy to turn knowledge and experience into documented processes which everyone, including new employees, can learn from
Enjoy an adaptive process: The fluidity of BPMN means that it can constantly be adapted to include new technologies, frameworks and processes
While there is no official exam to take, students will receive a certificate of completion upon finishing the course. The expertise on offer can also be highly lucrative, with some students reporting a 21% increase in their earning potential after studying BPMN.
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Want to find out more? Get in touch with Good e-Learning today to learn how we can set you on the path to your BPMN course!