The key to an effective and smoothly run business is the efficiency and cohesive integration of its business processes. A business process describes the steps taken to complete any objective, task or service within a business. Processes can be divided into three distinct categories:
• Management processes – processes that describe business strategy and organizational structure.
• Operational processes – interaction between business and customer, core business activity.
• Supporting processes – e.g. health and safety, accounting, recruitment.
The most effective method of creating or analyzing a business process is to visually interpret the steps using a business process diagram, flowchart or workflow. This is known as business process modeling, and will be performed within a company by a team who have detailed knowledge of company process, and analysts with expertise in the modeling discipline. The objective is often to increase production or lower costs – by modeling the process initially using a flowchart, inefficiencies and problems can be spotted before committing to a decision or strategy.
Given the fluid, global nature of business at present, it is perhaps a necessity to have a standardized notation system with which to describe the steps that make up different business processes. Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) v2.0 is a method for visualizing information in a way that’s intuitive for business analysts, and also allows existing processes within a business to be compared and integrated effectively.
The aim of BPMN is assist in creating a diagram that is immediately understandable to all business stakeholders, with graphic elements that can be adapted to represent any form of function, decision, work or data flow. The symbols and structure it uses to do this can be divided into a number of categories:
• Flow objects – Includes Events, which are parts of a process that happen automatically, denoted by a circle; Activities show work that needs to be done, shown as a round-cornered rectangle; Gateways show a splitting or merging of paths, using a diamond shape.
• Connecting objects – Used to connect flow objects, either as Sequence Flow, which indicated the order of activities; Message Flow, a dashed line that shows interaction between organizational boundaries, shown on diagrams as ‘Pools’; Association is a dotted line used to connect an ‘Artifact’ or text to an activity.
• Swim lanes – The widest possible overview of a process involving different organizations is known as a Pool. Different organizations each have their own Lane within the Pool, and are connected using Message Flow connecting objects.
• Artifacts – Artifacts are pieces of information added to certain Activity flow objects to giver better understanding to those viewing the process diagram. They can be data required or produces, extra activities, or simply explanatory text.
• Choreographies – These symbols allow the opportunity to show an activity or step that describes the behavior between business participants.
• Expanded objects – These symbols can be used to expand one area of a process, and see an activity or function at a higher level of detail.
ConceptDraw have designed a solution that combines BPMN v2.0 methodology and graphical notification into one powerful package. The Business Process Diagrams solution from ConceptDraw Solution Park provides a comprehensive collection of vector stencil libraries that contain pre-designed, standardized BPMN v2.0 symbols, as well as a number of templates that help you map out business processes and strategy in a variety of styles.