Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN)

Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) is a method of illustrating business processes in the form of a diagram similar to a flowchart. BPMN was originally conceived and developed by the Business Process Management Initiative (BPMI). It is currently maintained by the Object Management Group (OMG).

BPMN provides a standard, easy-to-read way to define and analyze public and private business processes. BPMN provides a standard notation that is readily understandable by management personnel, analysts and developers. The original intent of BPMN was to help bridge communication gaps that often exist between the various departments within an organization or enterprise. BPMN can also help to ensure that XML (Extensible Markup Language) documents designed for the execution of diverse business processes can be visualized with a common notation.

A diagram in BPMN is assembled from a small set of core elements, making it easy for technical and non-technical observers to understand the processes involved. Elements are categorized into three major groups called flow objects, connecting objects and swimlanes. Flow objects, denoted by geometric figures such as circles, rectangles and diamonds, indicate specific events and activities. Flow objects are linked with connecting objects, which appear as solid, dashed or dotted lines that may include arrows to indicate process direction. Swimlanes, so named because of their geometric resemblance to the lane lines on the bottom of an Olympic swimming pool, are denoted as solid, straight lines running lengthwise within a rectangle called a pool. The swimlanes organize diverse flow objects into categories having similar functionality.

This was last updated in November 2010

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