BPMN and Business Process Management

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BPMN stands for Business Process Modeling Notation. It is the new standard for modeling business processes and web service processes, as put forth by the Business Process Management Initiative (BPMI – www.BPMI.org). BPMN is a core enabler of a new initiative in the Enterprise Architecture world called Business Process Management (BPM). Business Process Management is concerned with managing change to improve business processes.

BPMN consists of one diagram – called the Business Process Diagram (BPD). The BPMN Business Process Diagram has been designed to be easy to use and understand, but also provides the ability to model complex business processes. It has also been designed specifically with web services in mind. BPMN is only one of three specifications that the BPMI has developed – the other two are a Business Process Modeling Language (BPML) and a Business Process Query Language (BPQL). All have been developed using a solid mathematical foundation, which enables a BPMN Business Process Diagram to map directly to BPML, in the same way that a physical data model maps directly to Data Definition Language (DDL).

There are competing standards to BPML, chief among them is the Business Process Execution Language For Web Services (BPEL4WS) created in a joint venture by BEA, IBM, Microsoft, and others. However, BPMI has created BPMN so that it maps readily to any business process execution language.

Business Process Execution Languages themselves are run, controlled, and orchestrated on a Business Process Management System (BPMS). OASIS (www.oasis-open.org) is a not-for-profit, global consortium that drives the development, convergence and adoption of e-business standards. Both BPEL4WS and BPMI’s BPML have been submitted to OASIS to become a business process execution language standard. OASIS has created a subcommittee to decide upon a standard; the outcome of this committee is called Web Services – Business Execution Language (WS-BPEL). The OASIS WS-BPEL requires the development of new BPMS technologies as well.

BPMN provides a number of advantages to modeling business processes over the Unified Modeling Language (UML). First, it offers a process flow modeling technique that is more conducive to the way business analysts model. Second, its solid mathematical foundation is expressly designed to map to business execution languages, whereas UML is not. BPMN can map to UML, and provide a solid business modeling front end to systems design with UML.

This paper provides an in-depth introduction to the new BPMN standard, illustrating how it is used to model business processes and web services. The paper also provides greater detail on how BPMN fits within BPM, BPEL’s, BPMS’s, UML and other new industry standards and initiatives described above.

Author: Martin Owen and Jog Raj



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