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Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN)

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What is BPMN?

Business Process Model and Notation™ (BPMN™) is an international standard modeling language and notation for use directly by business stakeholders who design, manage, and realize business processes.

BPMN has become the worldwide de-facto standard for business process diagrams. While using BPMN is easy enough for business people to understand and diagram processes, it is also precise enough to allow BPMN diagrams to be published into software process components that can be automated. BPMN has a graphical easy-to-use flowchart-like notation that is independent of any specific implementation environment.

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The BPMN standard is published and supported by OMG®, an international, open membership, not-for-profit technology standards consortium.

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The BPMN standard provides businesses with the capability of understanding, documenting, and automating their internal business procedures and facilitates the understanding of collaborations and business transactions between different organizations. Using BPMN, businesses can better understand themselves and other participants in their business ecosystem, thus enabling organizations to rapidly adjust to new internal and B2B business context changes.

BPMN, DMN™ (Decision Model and Notation™), and CMMN™ (Case Management Model and Notation™), are all OMG visual modeling standards that can each be used independently yet were designed to be complementary. BPMN is often used with DMN to automate DMN decision sequences or determine process branching flows (BPMN gateways). BPMN workflows can be embedded directly as process tasks in CMMN models.

The BPMN standard utilizes visual models which are standardized, verifiable, and where the model can serve as both the documentation and as the executable source for workflow automation engines. A BPMN workflow can be automated directly from the visual model into workflow engines without IT translation. BPMN diagrams can be programmatically validated and can be created and maintained by subject matter experts (SMEs) and IT professionals thus eliminating business-to-technical specification issues and errors.

BPMN business process mapping uses a theoretical concept called a token that is used as an aid to define the behavior of a process being performed. As opposed to other elements of BPMN like Tasks, Events, or Gateways, tokens do not have visualizations. The diagram is composed of BPMN symbols or shapes that represent tasks, events, flows, associations, references, and a few others. A very simplistic explanation of a typical BPMN process diagram is that an event called a Start event creates a token on its outgoing Sequence Flows. From there, sequence flow shapes connect tasks, sub-processes, events, and gateways until all tokens in that process reach an end node, i.e., a node without any outgoing Sequence Flow. The BPMN modeling notation is very rich and includes many ways to describe sophisticated process flows.

The current standard for BPMN is BPMN 2.0. BPMN is also ratified as ISO 19510.

Who Uses BPMN?

Since BPMN is a non-proprietary and neutral language, it lends itself to solutions in every type of organization. It has been estimated that between 15 and 20 million people in over 180 countries worldwide have used BPMN since its initial version 1.0 release in May 2004. Diagrams created using BPMN – Business Process Diagrams (BPDs) – can accurately model virtually any business or non-business workflow by depicting the process flow, participants involved and message exchanges between participants. That mean BPMN can facilitate a very wide range of use cases. BPMN workflows have been created for practically every type of organization including government, transportation, retail, real estate, manufacturing, banking, insurance, healthcare, legal, and many more.

Because BPMN supports defining process diagrams at different levels of abstraction, it can be used in different ways to meet varying organizational needs. BPMN can be used to create only a graphical depiction that visualizes and documents processes. Adding more details to models enable their use as the source code of an execution engine to create process applications. Process models can be created by non-IT personnel and enriched for execution by subject matter experts, power users, or IT.

According to the OMG specification, the following are examples of business processes that can be modeled using BPMN 2.0:

  • High-level non-executable process activities (not functional breakdown)
  • Detailed executable business process
  • As-is or old business process
  • To-be or new business process
  • A description of expected behavior between two (2) or more business Participants – a Choreography
  • Detailed private business process (either executable or non-executable) with interactions to one or more external entities (or “Black Box” processes)
  • Two or more detailed executable processes interacting
  • Detailed executable business process relationship to a Choreography
  • Two or more public processes
  • Public process relationship to Choreography
  • Two or more detailed executable business processes interacting through a Choreography

Not all process mapping software tools from other vendors fully support the BPMN 2.0 standard. For example, most do not support Choreographies, nor the full compliance infrastructure required to automate processes.

Business Process Model and Notation in Financial Services

BPMN in Financial Services

In addition to an ever-increasing demand for mobile and online banking services, financial services organizations including retail and commercial banking, insurance, mortgage, investments, etc. need to constantly re-engineer existing business processes.

Process agility and continuous improvement are required to stay competitive so nearly every financial services business uses process automation workflows. Most of these organizations use BPMN for their process modeling software definition and execution language. BPMN can document and orchestrate the activities of administrators, users, systems, and customers at every step.

Standards play a big part in the financial services world. Using an international standard like BPMN is supported through many different modeling and BPMN tools and makes finding modeling and automation workers easier as the talent pool of trained and certified staff is large. The creation and sharing of BPMN models for compliance and regulatory processes such as the CCPA, GDPR1, Basel II/III Accord, Anti-money Laundering (AML), Know Your Customer (KYC), Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), and Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) are being done using the BPMN standard.

BPMN is being used to document and automate hundreds of types of financial processes including:

  • Risk assessment and mitigation processes
  • Regulatory compliance processes
  • EOD/EOM/EOQ/EOY closing processes
  • Anti-money laundering processes
  • Consumer protection processes
  • Know your customer (KYC) processes
  • Claims handling processes
  • Complaint handling & mitigation processes
  • Investment trade processes
  • Marketing processes
  • Credit scoring processes
  • Credit card processing
  • Underwriting processes
  • Loan origination processes
  • Loan distribution processes
  • Fraud detection processes
  • Loan servicing processes
  • Cross selling and up-selling processes
  • Trade review processes
  • Sales forecasting processes

BPMN in Financial Services

Trisotech is a MISMO™ (Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization) partner and provides BPMN technology to that standards group. Trisotech also provides BPMN extended modeling support in the form of drag-and-drop “Accelerators” for the MISMO and FIBO (Financial Industry Business Ontology) standard data structures. Trisotech financial clients include governments, insurance organizations, mortgage finance organizations, loan originators, retail and commercial banks, stock trading exchanges, credit card organizations, real estate brokers, investment brokerage houses and more.

Business Process Model and Notation in Healthcare

BPMN in Healthcare

On the adoption of BPMN as a standard in BPM+ Health’s Field Guide to Shareable Clinical Pathways…

The use of these three modeling standards, particularly BPMN, is well established in business. The purpose of the Field Guide is to apply standard techniques for business process modeling and decision modeling, proven in other industries, to healthcare to rapidly share and distribute good clinical workflow practices across institutions.

Healthcare is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the world economy and many healthcare organizations are undergoing one or more digital transformation initiatives. As part of these transformations, there is an increased need for technology innovation and increased reliance on evidence-based medicine. Healthcare automation needs have become so critical and pervasive that to address these concerns head-on, a community of practice, BPM+ Health, has been created. BPM+ Health was established based on the use of open, standards-based notations including BPMN (workflow management) and other open IT standards which allows for all types of health organizations, professional societies, and vendors to document their care pathways and workflows, so they are sharable, discoverable, and automatable.

According to members of BPM+ Health and the OMG Healthcare Domain Task Force who publish the Field Guide to Shareable Clinical Pathways, “By applying BPMN standards and formal models to healthcare practice patterns, the information becomes computer-consumable and automatable, giving doctors and clinicians evidence-based information at the point of care.”

Today, most healthcare organizations use textual descriptions, diagrams, and flow charts to document clinical processes. BPMN is a well understood proven international standard. As part of many transformation efforts, BPMN is being used to create automatable graphical representations of healthcare processes and clinical pathways. BPMN process diagrams are visual, unambiguous, intuitive, and easily understood by both providers and IT professionals thus making them superior to text documents.

While evidence-based decision-making is not explicitly supported by BPMN, the use of Business Rule Tasks (a fundamental BPMN drawing shape) can be used to represent operational and clinical decisions by directly invoking DMN models. Well designed and documented BPMN processes are also easy to maintain which is important in healthcare where constantly changing regulations, rapid advances in medications and treatment, and frequently changing policies all contribute to high-volume and constant maintenance.

Healthcare organizations can also include clinical knowledge and AI/ML for decision support and quality measurements by using the Clinical Quality Language (CQL) industry standard and/or Predictive Model Markup Language (PMML) models.

BPMN is being used to create healthcare process flows and orchestrate DMN decision services in hundreds of ways. Here are some representative examples:

  • Maintain EHR Systems
  • Patient Admission and Discharge
  • Benefit Enrollment
  • Billings and payments
  • Clinical decision support (CDS)
  • Insurance/claims processing
  • Actuarial and risk management
  • Automate FTP/SFTP/FTPS
  • DevOps
  • Fraud management

BPMN in Healthcare

Trisotech is a founding member of BPM+ Health which includes BPMN, as well as DMN and CMMN, as an integral standards technology. Trisotech healthcare clientele include international and U.S. acute care hospitals, healthcare insurance organizations, HMOs, renowned teaching hospitals, PPOs, and healthcare professional organizations.

The Trisotech Healthcare Feature Set (HFS) is an optional set of advanced functionalities extending the BPMN modeler with healthcare-specific additions. Through a combination of these new features and functions, healthcare organizations can now access FHIR®, SMART™, and SMART on FHIR capabilities as well as AI and Machine Learning (ML) in their modeling and automation of BPMN workflows. Predefined FHIR Data types (simple, complex, and special purpose) are provided as reusable drag and drop data structures that can be assigned as data objects in BPMN workflows and autogenerated SMART on FHIR webapps can be created from workflow automations stored in the Digital Enterprise Suite (DES) Service Library.

The BPMN modeler and automation engine also support the Attended Tasks extension. The Trisotech Attended Task feature allows for validation and confirmation of the inputs and/or outputs of any automated task by the care provider user or any other designated performer. This feature ensures that a knowledgeable human expert can correct/modify information in real time during workflow execution.

free pre-built evidence-based workflow and decision models

Trisotech also provides nearly 1,000 free pre-built evidence-based workflow and decision models including care pathways, clinical guidelines, and healthcare calculators in the BPM+ Health standard. These models are human-readable, machine automatable, and embeddable in most medical encounter systems. Healthcare organizations can use these models, created under the direction of Trisotech CMO John Svirbely, MD, to quickly and easily modify them to fit the exact nature of their organization’s policies and procedures. Healthcare organizations can also create their own processes and decisions from scratch with the easily understood BPMN visual Workflow Modeler that can be shared by practitioners, IT, SMEs, and business people.

Trisotech and BPMN

Digital Enterprise Suite

Trisotech is a world leader in business automation solutions and an active contributor to the BPMN 2.0 standard. Trisotech’s Workflow Modeler is known as the reference implementation for BPMN modeling tools and supports all shapes for modeling BPMN process orchestration and BPMN choreography. Trisotech also supports and integrates the DMN and CMMN standards into the Workflow Modeler and the Trisotech Workflow Automation Engine for automating BPMN models.

BPMN model creation, administration, and management as well as automation library management, administration, configuration, debugging, simulation, and audit logging are all visual and browser based and can be hosted in public or private clouds – making Trisotech’s offering a complete workflow management and automation solution.

The Trisotech Workflow Modeler also supports many features that make BPMN models more informative, visually attractive, and seamlessly integrated into the Trisotech Digital Enterprise Suite. Trisotech has expanded the Workflow Modeler platform to include specific support for advanced technologies like AI/Machine Learning (ML) with the inclusion of PMML models in the modeling environment and a PMML execution engine in the automation environment. PMML (Predictive Model Markup Language) is an XML-based language which provides a way for applications to define machine learning, statistical and data mining models and to share models between PMML compliant applications.

Another extended feature of the Trisotech Workflow Modeler is Attended Tasks. When a task is configured as attended in the BPMN diagram, the task is decorated with an attended task symbol and additional user tasks are dynamically generated at execution. This allows a performer to review the task’s data inputs and/or the data outputs manually thus verifying or potentially overriding data generated by automated tasks like decision services or machine learning algorithms.

Trisotech provides free business process modeling tools through self-service trial subscriptions and Visio templates.

Workflow Modeler BPMN Differentiators

Trisotech’s BPMN-based business automation architecture is built upon SaaS cloud technologies including API-first design which allows for the invocation of processes from practically any programming language in mobile, cloud, and on-premise server environments. These automated BPMN processes are scalable high-performance services. The automated process (Workflow) services and workflow automation engine are also structured to provide full support for today’s complex availability needs including containerization and docker technologies. The BPMN platform’s modeling and automation is completely browser based and can be run in any modern browser environment including Chrome, Edge, Safari, Firefox, etc. Automation servers can be hosted by Trisotech, or Clients including on-premise and public/private clouds like AWS, Azure, Google, etc. Advanced configurations allow for 24 X 7 operation, concurrent geographic dispersion and failover, and containerization operating environments.

The Trisotech Workflow Modeler offers many features other BPMN modelers do not. These include:

  • Complete modeling shapes for modeling BPMN process orchestration and BPMN choreography
  • Single click integration with DMN and CMMN
  • Import of BPMN, XPDL, MS Project & MS Visio
  • BPMN Method and Style Validation
  • Issue tracking and management by model
  • Multimedia model animator
  • Diagram Overlays (tags, flags, attachments, comments, time, cost, etc.)
  • Relation View matrix for visual analysis (RACI, I/O, Trigger/Result, Achieve/maintain…)
  • Dependency view of re-use and where-used
  • FEEL expression language from DMN for Low code automation (data mapping, gateways…)
  • Heatmap visualizations
  • Integrated Learning features (BPMN, Quick Guide, BPMN Rule Book, BPMN JIT eLearning)
  • Deep Model diff to compare models to one another
  • Drag & drop re-use by copy and re-use by reference (DEG: Digital Enterprise Graph)
  • Single Click deployment to execution library
  • Export to BPMN (XML), XPDL, BPEL & images
  • BPMN standard Validation
  • Threaded commenting down to element level
  • Lean/Six Sigma analysis
  • Configurable Documentation in Word or HTML including Overlays on models
  • Capture & interrelate W5 (Who, What, When, Where, and Why)
  • Versioning of models
  • Library of connectors for triggers & operations (Outlook, Google Storage, Excel, OneDrive…)
  • Attended Tasks extension
  • Discrete Event Simulation based on BPSim standard published by Workflow Management Coalition (WfMC)
  • Scope view of multi-diagram elements in a single BPMN model

Trisotech is an active contributor to the BPMN standard.

Trisotech Workflow Modeler and Automation are known as the reference implementations for BPMN.

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OMG®, BPMN™, (Business Process Model and Notation™), Decision Model and Notation™, (DMN™), CMMN™, (Case Management Model and Notation™), and BPM+ Health™ are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Object Management Group, Inc. in the United States and/or other countries. MISMO™ is a registered trademark of Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization, Inc.


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