1. Peter Schooff
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. Thursday, 14 June 2018
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A question Stuart Chandler brought up awhile ago where he wrote: "There is a more important question and that is whether BPMN needs to be overhauled. Has the industry shifted and a better graphical representation is needed?" What do you think?
Max Young Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Blog Writer
“It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.”
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  1. one week ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 1
John Reynolds Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
One problem with BPMN (and with all of our current graphical modeling notations) is that they're static and the things that we are trying to model are dynamic...

We need to liberate our modelling notations from what can be presented on a two dimensional sheet of paper, or we'll never be able to capture that which truly needs to be portrayed.
Founder at John Reynolds' Venture LLC - Creator of ¿?Trules™ for drama free decisions
  1. one week ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 2
Peter Hilton Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
As with conventional programming languages, not updating BPMN would make it easier for alternatives to compete. Regular updates and the occasional overhaul could at least delay the adoption of alternatives by raising the bar.

However, the need for some amount of backwards compatibility means that a compelling alternative is inevitable eventually.
  1. one week ago
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Dr Alexander Samarin Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Neither, by definition. Let us work in a correct way, please.
- develop a common refefernce architecture
- define functional blocks and thier APIs
- introduce standards

  1. one week ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 4
Jose Camacho Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
We have already talked about BPMN issues before, and I have already mentioned the defects and improvements that should be implemented. As we know, BPMN was conceived to design processes at the operational level for implementation, ignoring a global process architecture, fundamental for a better definition of its scope, and its management, to facilitate, for example, the elimination / minimization of redundant activities. Unfortunately many companies are following this path of automation for automation, without an effective concern to identify and implement improvements in business operations.
However, I think that despite the importance of a standard notation of process design being important (e.g., BPMN), process management goes far beyond the process models design and maintenance, and this vision has mostly been lacking at the business level, leaving for the IT, the solutions for all problems, which will never happen.
In short, it does not seem to me that the BPMN is to blame for all evils, and that it should therefore be discarded. What has been missed is a strategic vision of the processes, aligned with the strategy of the business itself, and that is the reason why companies feel that they are not reaping the expected benefits.
  1. one week ago
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  3. # 5
David Chassels Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
There better ways proven which really do deliver all without coding as I have articulated. Until industry analysts do real research outside pockets of big vendors then complexity such as with BPMN likely to continue but not sustainable and will become history just a question of when not if......
  1. one week ago
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  3. # 6
John Morris Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
BPMN has been a terrific step forward from previous notations. It is now easier than ever for business analysts (as the front-line process cadres for management) to express process designs in support of automation programmes. These process designs are "models of reality". The challenge is, reality is rich, much richer than we can express with current notations. So as we keep saying "all models are wrong but some models are useful". BPMN and BPM models generally are useful.

But could BPM technologies be more useful?

Coming out of Fordist organizations (i.e. assembly-line oriented businesses such as insurance, or government departments), BPM notations so far have been nicely able to model enough reality for very structured processes. Enough to be useful. But in a new era of case-dominant business models and mass customization, business modeling reality demands are increasing. And thus we hear criticisms of what some say is the overly technical BPMN notation. And current notations may also not directly support higher-level constructs that would enable faster process model construction.

But wishes are not purchases.
The challenge of building a more expressive BPM notation is a mathematical and ontology research challenge. And then also a governance challenge certainly, between vendors and research institutions. Making a process graph that is technically both diagrammable and executable in near real time is a huge technical challenge. We add to that the question of even knowing what semantic language elements to include in the system, more challenge.

Assuming though, which is reasonable, that we will see new BPM technology come out of the labs, we also have the task of successfully using a BPM notation and technology in everyday business. Even today, BPMN now can be used more successfully than it often is, if it is deployed in a regime where business analysts with both deep business domain knowledge and high-level process modeling skills are fully supported.

Better BPM technology, including better BPM notation, is coming; incrementally. In the meantime, there are wins to be had for those that can squeeze the most out of what BPM technology offers today.
Lots to agree with here John. Yes to the usefulness test; Yes to the structured heritage of BPMN; Yes BPMN is more capable today than is commonly used; Yes incremental improvements to the application and practice will continue to squeeze a little more benefit out.

But what really piqued my interest was the statement that a more expressive notation requires mathematical and ontological research. I wonder what direction you had in mind, care to elaborate?
  1. Tim Stephenson
  2. 1 week ago
Thanks Tim. Good question, which I'd like to reply to. Will get back. :)
  1. John Morris
  2. 1 week ago
  1. one week ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 7
Tim Stephenson Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Throw it out altogether. It's been 7 years since we reinvented the wheel and surely we can all agree that's more than enough? ;)
  1. one week ago
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  3. # 8
Karl Walter Keirstead Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
OK to overhaul if there is a customer-base for BPMN.

OK to throw BPMN out so long as you invent something to replace it.

My customers have "best practices" in their heads.

They want to map these, improve them, then roll out and make use of run-time templates.

Being able to do this, or most of this, on their own, is the happy scenario, with an understanding that rule set construction/debugging may be too difficult/tedious for them and that data sharing (in/out) with multiple local and remote apps and systems will need help from IT.

They don't mind having a facilitator come in for a couple of days where the mission is to teach the customer how to map/improve best practices.

Knowing all of this, they resist "solutions" where outsiders come in and borrow their watches to tell them what time it is.

And, the ultimate turnoff is a vendor or consultant who says they will be happy to build a workflow/workload platform for them and proceed to map out their processes over an extended period of time using some "notation".

My customer base is OK with dragging and dropping circles (or distinctive icons) on a canvas and connecting these with directional arrows. They "get it" that they will need branching decision boxes, loop backs, and a way to access however many processes they end up with in their inventory of processes.

Of course, these folks are using a "notation" but the essentials are they can master the notation in very little time.

We pitch our methods/software and if that works, then, fine. Otherwise, we invite them to organize a cake bake where they call up vendors, schedule a demo and then, before each live session starts, they ask the presenter to hand over the mouse/keyboard.

The challenge is whether the customer is able to build a small workflow of his/her choice with minimal assistance/intervention, compile the map, then launch and process a couple of instances of the generated template and see the steps they processed in the Case History , all in less than 1/2 hour.

Now, all of this sounds great, but do all of the customers who sign up, have successful outcomes?

No, because whereas they go through the exercise, oftentimes they are then "too busy" to actually use the methods/tools.

Same for knowledge bases, we can build for them a worldwide kbase comprising 10,000 documents/links but when we come back in three months, we find they were "too busy" to keep the kbase up to date.

I often ask what is it that keeps them so "busy "- the usual response is "meetings". They have meetings to decide whether they should have a meeting, next they have another meeting to decide what the topic of the proposed meeting should be, then another to decide who should attend . . . .
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  1. one week ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 9
Kay Winkler Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
I agree with the notion that BPMN is absolutely a step into the right direction. From my point of view of practical process implementations, BPMN neither needs to be overhauled nor thrown out - it’s just beginning to become a recognized standard for most of our customers (that are none programmers) that they are willing to adapt to. For extending the visual representations of flow charts, furthering a graphical representation of their contents, new approaches like DMN are perfect companions to current BPMN standards.
NSI Soluciones - ABPMP PTY
  1. one week ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 10
Stuart Chandler Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Blog Writer
Interesting dialogue. The basis of BPMN is to facilitate process representation of business activity so it can be turned into a digital process. There are parts that need to be changed but to me it boils down to software vendors and how they can shrink the gap of business translation into functional digital (app) processes. Abstracting the business into a notation facilitates stakeholder alignment and making key decisions for the business. However, the question is method.

Why do you need notation for a screen if you just produce the screen? do you need a shape to represent a decision when you just interact with the decision in an application or represent the decision directly in the app. why do you need to abstract that decision. More importantly, how much time do organizations need to model their business, banter about the various business process elements to reach consensus before developing the application. Today there is even more pressure on organizations to deliver faster. More documenting and perfecting the encyclopedia of processes in an organization before you build and get into practice a working application to learn reality the faster the organization is sinking into oblivion.

BPMN won't be thrown out but software vendors and their respective approach to converting business knowledge, assets into a working digital process(es) will determine how much change will occur in BPMN and the ultimate sunsetting of the BPMN notation. ps. I agree with Jose's comment about the fact that strategic vision is missing.
  1. one week ago
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  3. # 11
Ian Gotts Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
BPMN's sole purpose is as a pre-cursor to automation, but it is interesting that the largest and most successful low-code platforms do not use BPMN. They don't seem to need the 360 different symbols in BPMN. Forrester Wave of leaders: https://www.outsystems.com/cpc/low-code-development

For engaging business people and doing business analysis BPMN is too complex. The simpler UPN standard works so much better for this use case. It is quicker, easier and more engaging - which leads to better adoption. And UPN is not proprietary, but this consultant has developed a site to support it http://process-guru.net/#

Overhauling BPMN is fighting for a better yesterday. Let it die the graceful death it deserves.

@Ian... Interesting . . . We use a variation of UPN.

UPN is totally new to me, our concept/approach came from Critical Path Software which has been around since 1950 and transitioned from non-graphic to graphic in the early 1980s.

My short (2014) video shows the key elements of UPN - in/out, name, attached forms/documents, routing etc.

What we don't have is "database" because we long ago made that entirely transparent (databases are extended as users build forms and deposit form fields on these).

Users have the notion that data is a property of the Case and that it flows along pathways (i.e.add "address" at a form and if you reference "address" downstream along a workflow, it automatically populates the value.


Seems to me your highlighting of UPN tells us we should let BPMN float off into the sunset.
In case anyone wants to see a process being mapped in real time, check out the following March 2018 article

@Karl Interesting you make comment about not having a database.....well we discovered that creating the task types and links as generic inside a relational database you could very quickly build any Process by configuring as required no coding....then we decided to display in a graphical display to allow not just a quicker build but one where business users could see build. Once complete using a declarative technique at a click the database was set up and ready to run the process application. Your process mapping video shows how easy but with a data centric
Architecture that mapping can be the build. Yes it is that easy.....and not a sign of "notation"...not needed!
  1. David Chassels
  2. 4 days ago
@David, Sorry for my lack of clarity.

What I meant is we don't have a "database attribute" at process steps (contrary to UPN). What this translates to is "instance\process\form\form field\dictionary name\data value" as the addressing scheme.

The mapping of each "dictionary name" to a table\field is done behind the scenes such that if a user goes to a form painter, opens a form and adds a new form "field", they don't have to also indicate mapping to a physical table\database field.

I can't imaging how any transaction processing system could work without a database (either for structured data, unstructured data, or a mix of both). We use MS SQL - a typical healthcare services delivery app for a hospital is likely to have 100,000 possibly 1,000,000 or more patient records, each having up to 10,000 data points, multiplied by the number of visits/interventions. Of course, no one patient has anything close to 10,000 data points at any session/intervention but the app has to have some place to store the data.

  1. one week ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 12
Bogdan Nafornita Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Great discussion.
My take:
- yes there's stuff in BPMN that is a bit long in the tooth (the messaging and signalling mechanism is natively synchronous, we are replacing it with a queueing technology)
- if you criticize it, show something better that serves both worlds - communicates to business, executes in tech.
- also, would seriously love to hear some far more specific examples on how BPMN is not meeting the needs of BPM implementers.
- most successful low-code platforms do not run BPMN (except Appian and Bizagi) - but they do run graphical models that are quite similar in notation - yet they're at about $100 million USD in revenue, a mere dent in the $200B enterprise custom development space. I wouldn't be so religious about using/not using BPMN in such a platform - all are just barely scratching the surface. There's so much tech - the difference is rarely in what you use, it's how you use it.
- is BPMN valid only for static processes? Show me a better executable notation for dynamic cases (no, it's not CMMN).
- is BPMN complex? only if you use it as such. Anyone using more than tasks, arrows, gateways and events? Anyone noticing how a regular business layman draws a process by boxes and arrows? Too hard to learn the other too? :)
CEO, Co-founder, profluo.com
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