Business Process Model and Notation: The Basics

The global business process modeling and notation standard is essential to business process management. BPMN diagrams make it simple for various stakeholders to visualize business processes, facilitating the improvement of workflow effectiveness and efficiency. Using this standard, business managers, developers, and analysts all have the ability to “speak the same language” in order to respond confidently to changing conditions.

What exactly is BPMN, or business process modeling and notation?

BPMN is a precise, graphical notation for business process documentation created by the Business Process Management Initiative in its infancy. By illustrating the order of business activities and information flows required to complete a particular process, it eliminates the ambiguities of textual process specifications.

Since 2005, the Object Management Organization has been responsible for maintaining BPMN. This open consortium aids in ensuring that BPMN diagrams can be easily shared among various modeling tools in a consistent format. The final objective is to support businesses in developing strategies to boost productivity, take into account fresh conditions, and/or obtain a competitive edge.

The benefits of BPMN

All business stakeholders can easily understand the common modeling language that business process model and notation offers. This includes the business analysts who design and improve processes, the tech developers in charge of putting them into practice, and the business users who oversee and manage them.

The following tasks are made easier for companies by the BPMN specification:

  • Achieve speedier consensus on present and future processes with unambiguous models
  • Promote engagement from all parties by using visually expressive notations
  • Facilitate operation analysis and improvement
  • Aid in the training of new hires
  • Provide a library of process flows, case definitions, and business rules.

BPMN diagrams also assist teams in producing the XML documents required to carry out various processes, including contract approvals and monthly financial report reminders. 

How BPMN operates

Graphical notations and flowcharts serve as the foundation of the BPMN language. For diagramming, the notations are divided into four groups:

1. Flow objects: 

Descriptive objects, like events, activities, and gateways, are used to define a process. Processes typically begin with a start event, go through activities/tasks and gateways (choice points), and culminate with an end event. Complicated processes depict how workflow flows across the diagram by including sub-processes, intermediary events, and various sorts of gateways. For instance, a parallel gateway represents two concurrent jobs in a workflow, whereas an exclusive gateway only offers one choice for movement, and inclusive gateways offer possibilities depending on the selection made at the gateway.

2. Connecting objects: 

Flow objects such as sequence flows, message flows, and associations are connected by symbols called connecting objects. While associations employ a dotted line to demonstrate that individual documents or artifacts are connected to an event or gateway, flows are shown as dashed or straight lines with arrows.

3. Swimlanes: 

These are containers that divide one group of activities from others. Pools in BPMN diagrams stand in for the main players in a process. A distinct pool could represent a different participant in the process, such as a different company, division, or client. The activities and flow for each position or participant are displayed as lanes within a pool, indicating who is responsible for what aspects of a process.

4. Artifacts:

Data objects, groups, and annotations are examples of artifacts that provide more information about the process. A group displays a logical grouping of activities, a data item demonstrates the data required for an action, and an annotation gives information about an area of the diagram.

BPMN diagram types

BPMN diagrams can represent either internal or external processes and be basic or complex. Here are a few examples of different diagrams:

Collaboration Diagrams 

These display how many processes interact with one another while using different pools. The job each pool performs is highlighted in the collaboration diagram, and each pool can communicate with other pools.

Choreography Diagrams

These diagrams depict the interactions between two or more participants. Within a collaboration, you might see a choreographic diagram that adds tasks and sequences that define more thoroughly how the members interact with one another.

Conversation Diagrams

These diagrams are condensed versions of collaboration diagrams. They display a collection of interconnected message exchanges in a business process.


For businesses to succeed, understanding their internal business practices is essential. Process analysis is one method for doing this since it enables you to sit back, look at the big picture, and determine where you need to improve.

BPMN offers a great standard for process modeling that you can use right away with the procedures you already have in place.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.