BPMN – Business Process Model Notation

What is BPMN?

Business Process Model Notation (BPMN) is a simple, yet robust, symbology for modelling all aspects of business processes.

The Business Process Model Notation was created in 2005 by the Business Process Management Initiative, a consortium of tool vendors in the BPM market that is now merged with the Object Management Group (OMG), an information systems standards-setting group. BPMN appears to be emerging as the largest, most widely accepted business process modelling notation in the industry. It provides a simple, yet robust, symbology for modelling all aspects of business processes. Version 2.0 was released in 2013.

Where it is highly useful for systems documentation (e.g. when developing and implementing an ERP system) it is often seen as too complex by untrained users. The reason for this is that its diagramming language is very rich and detailed with up to 55 different shapes and symbols to keep track of.

The Principles of BPMN


BPMN only covers modelling appropriate to business processes. As opposed to processes external to the organisation.


These models consist of simple diagrams using four basic element categories:

  • Flow objectsEvents, activities, gateways
  • Connecting objects – Sequence flow, message flow, association
  • Swimlanes – Pool, lane
  • Artefacts – Data object, group, annotation

BPMN 2.0

Business Process Management Notation 2.0 aims to have a single blueprint defining all notations, metamodels and interchange formats. These are the features that align with this specification:

  • Firstly, aligning BPMN with the business process definition metamodel BPDM to form a single consistent language.
  • Enabling the exchange of business process models and their diagram layouts among process modelling tools to preserve semantic integrity.
  • Expand Business Process Model Notation to allow model orchestrations and choreographies as stand-alone or integrated models.
  • Support the display and interchange of different perspectives on a model that allows a user to focus on specific concerns.
  • Finally, serialise Business Process Model Notation and provide XML schemes for model transformation and to extend BPMN towards business modelling and executive decision support.

More Resources:

Read our guide to simple process mapping

Source: Business Process Management Common Body of Knowledge (BPM CBOK, 2009), The Association of Business Process Management Professionals

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