The reinforced BPMN standard is the core of the new BPM+ ecosystem

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By Jasper Thomas

Business Process Modeling Notation – the open source graphical notation for business process diagrams – has been around since the early 2000s. The widely used standard underwent a major revision in 2011 and another revision, designated 2.0.2, in 2014.

Now a variety of new BPMN features are being introduced as part of an expanded ecosystem of modeling and notation standards called BPM+.

BPMN traditionally focuses on diagramming a business process model. But in many business conversations, other details also need to be kept in mind. Leaders also need to be able to quickly communicate the reliability and trust of the elements expressed in a model.

The new BPMN functions and expanded notation types reflect the increased organizational and technical complexity of business processing. Each business process increasingly interacts with a far greater number of applications and systems than when the standard was last revised, such as: B. Stream processing engines, new decision models and AI/machine learning tools. In addition, highly regulated industries such as banking, financial services and insurance need to optimize their business processes to meet a greater number of regulations.

The ecosystem of BPM+ features promises to help companies plan and optimize these more complicated processes together.

OMG expands the scope with BPM+

Jason McC. Blacksmith

Jason McC. Smith, vice president, technical director and CIO of standards organization Object Management Group (OMG), explained that BPMN represents the core of the new BPM+ ecosystem of specifications, which in addition to BPMN to date includes the following standards:

  • Business motivation modelthat provides a formalized way to describe modern business models;
  • Case management model and notation (CMMN), which describes how cases might flow through a workflow management system;
  • Decision model and notation, which standardizes notation for decision support and business rules systems; And
  • Semantics of business vocabulary and business rulesthat formalizes operational rules such as security and compliance guidelines.

Other specifications going through the standardization process include:

  • BPM+ knowledge package model and notationwhich provides a way to package models with processes, cases, decisions, data, family trees and provenance;
  • Common data model and notation, which standardizes the content and structure of a shared data model; And
  • Family tree and provenance model and notationthat standardizes a description of the trustworthiness and authenticity of physical and virtual things and entities.
Donncha Carroll photoDonna Carroll

Donncha Carroll, partner in Axiom Consulting Partners’ revenue growth practice and leader of the firm’s Data Science Center of Excellence, said it’s helpful to think about how these new standards can improve business capabilities.

For example, CMMN provides the flexibility to support adaptive process execution. Adaptive processes are cases that consist of activities carried out in an order that varies depending on the circumstances. CMMN makes it easier to describe these cases and, in turn, makes it easier for managers to communicate how such processes might change and to run simulations of how they might play out under different circumstances.

BPM+ formalizes the “gut feeling” about the business and facilitates the use of new technologies

The more powerful tools around the BPM+ ecosystem listed above should help foster a shared understanding of changes in compliance policies, the reliability of the data involved in a particular decision, or the comparative merits of similar business models.

This common understanding, when derived from multiple perspectives and concerns, can improve analysis, simulation and prediction to optimize specific processes or even transform the organization while mitigating risk.

In the long term, Smith hopes that innovations within the BPM+ ecosystem will make it easier to connect the dots between the intuitive, gut-level understanding of how the business works and the formal process maps needed to drive consistency.

He noted that the discipline of business process management is generally about capturing the concepts and abstractions surrounding an organization’s structure, communication channels, data flows, and decision-making in order to improve any aspect of a company’s operations or optimization.

“The most effective leaders and managers have an innate sense of these concepts and relationships, then make decisions and develop strategies based on them,” he said.

If a leader is extremely aware of their mental processes, they may be able to communicate this mental model to others, but it takes a rare person to accomplish this. Formal modeling techniques and tools have a gut-level advantage over informal communication approaches.

Smith said BPM+ also helps companies take advantage of advances in machine learning, process mining, RPA and other business process automation tools offered by multiple vendors.

“BPM+ enables providers to develop innovations based on… [BPM+] Standards provide … while preserving the user’s investment in the data,” Smith explained.

Companies can then use various manual and automated approaches such as process mining to automatically generate BPMN diagram data and reuse this data in tools from many vendors.

BPM+ is applied to new domains

BPM+ is increasingly being used in areas outside of business and enterprise applications. For example, one of the newest and most vibrant communities is BPM+Health. It was founded to apply BPM+ modeling techniques to both business and medical healthcare practices. This enables healthcare professionals to model clinical care pathways using BPM+. You can also use the standard to communicate, compare and curate these healthcare processes, creating a discipline of shared best practices that promises to improve patient care and outcomes.

“This is an incredibly exciting opportunity and an application that I don’t think the original authors of BPMN could have imagined,” said Smith, adding that the use of BPMN in healthcare will undoubtedly enrich and refine the standard. “Every time a use case is expanded, it can’t help but provide feedback to the core that benefits everyone involved.

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