As organisations become more competitive and challenged by innovation with the use of new technology, they need the ability to rapidly react to change and to adjust their business processes in response to changing market conditions.
Business process modelling (and Business Process Modelling Notation) provides a way of visualising work practices within an organisation and provides the ability to respond to change. The idea is to create a graphical representation of the work practices that describe activities performed by the business and their interdependencies. The modelling of work practices can reveal inefficiencies and provide opportunities for improving work practices and enhancing productivity.
In the past there has been no industry standard business process modelling notation to address the complexity of business processes, and as business process modelling was becoming increasingly important and complex, the industry identified a need for a standard business process modelling notation. As a result the Business Process Modelling Notation (BPMN) was developed as part of the Business Process Modelling Initiative (BPMI) consortium and is currently maintained by the Object Management Group since the two organisations merged in 2005.
BPMN provides a graphical notation for describing business processes. BPMN allows modellers to create a business process diagram which represents the activities of the business process and the flow controls that define the sequence in which they are performed. BPMN is targeted at a high level for business users and at a lower level for process implementers. The business users should be able to easily read and understand a BPMN business process diagram. The process implementers should be able to include further detail in a business process diagram in order to represent the process in a physical implementation.
BPMN provides businesses with the capability to understand their internal work practices in a graphical notation, and gives organisations the ability to communicate these work practices in a standard manner. The graphical notation will also improve understanding of performance collaborations and business transactions between organisations. Documenting business processes ensures that the business understand their internal work practices and the participants in their business enabling them to implement change quickly and pro-actively improve work practices.
BPMN is targeted at users, vendors and service providers who need to communicate business processes in a standard manner. BPMN has been developed to provide users with a royalty free notation. This will benefit users in a similar way that UML standardised the world of software engineering. The initial version of BPMN was made available to the public on May 3, 2004.