Episode 0. Start BPMN

Even if you don’t understand BPMN now, by the time you finish reading these pages, you will be able to create business processes on your own. This is an introduction for those of you who want to work on improving your business!

  • Episode1. BPMN Who?
  • Episode2. BPMN Within One Minute?
  • Episode3. Business Processes Appropriate for Practicing BPMN
  • Episode4. Can We Define Business Systems Only With BPMN Diagrams?
BPMN Introduction (PDF: 289KB, 4pages)


Episode 1. BPMN Who?

What do you think of when you hear “Notation”? (thinking, thinking…)
One minute of thinking isn’t getting us any closer, so let’s ask our friend Google.

Aha, Wiki Notation!
…Well, maybe. (Please, no stealing.)

A way of stubbornly avoiding HTML tags, by using asterisks (*) and colons (:). (Wiki Notation)
Or, Polish Notation!
…Um, probably not. (Please, no making things up.)

The Polish Notation (and Reverse Polish Notation) was a Polish invention in which 1+2+3 is written as + 1 2 3.
It’s a style that some programmers from the previous century fancied. (Polish Notation)

Anyways, BPMN is also a Notation.
It’s short for Business Process Modeling Notation, and is a way of portraying business processes. Most notably, it defines a “Way to Draw” business processes. Perhaps it would be best if we say, BPMN is a method of drawing business processes.

In other words — unlike HTML, XML, Wiki Notation, Polish Notation, etc. — it isn’t about words and texts.

BPMN is a “method of drawing.” Even those of you who can’t suppress a shudder at the mention of XML and Wiki can muster up some curiosity if we say “How to draw.”
So, before we lose you again with words, here is a sample of a business process drawn in BPMN.

Hey, I could draw that!

Yes, it’s that easy. What would take a lot more effort in words, gets across easily this way. No prior knowledge is necessary. And the most important point is… you can understand it intuitively.

By the way, as you can see, individual tasks are round-cornered rectangles, and the business flow goes from left to right. These are part of the BPMN rules.

You don’t have to use BPMN to draw business flows or processes. Some other famous ones are EPC (Event-driven Process Chain), shown in Figure-3, and Activity Diagrams.

Well, to be honest, “famous” in this case means, the number of business people who know these methods, would approximately equal the number of people who dreamed of getting squished by a dinosaur this morning. (How many is that?)

As you can see from the sample, there is a difference in the style and amount of information, but no great difference in the content and essence; in fact, we could say the only difference is in taste.
However, the fact that BPMN is intuitively understandable is, however small, the reason why it is… an appropriate notation for the discussion of business processes.

The history of BPMN is still very short. But it is… a global resource that is managed by one of the largest standardization organizations in the world.

As of 2009, we have BPMN 1.2. In the near future, though, we should be seeing a promotion from “Business Process Modeling Notation 1.2” to “Business Process Model and Notation 2.0.” But you can forget about that for now. (Curious…?)