Contemporaries BPM Standards

Contemporaries BPM Standards

By Trisotech

Read Time: 4 Minutes

To guide and discipline us in our business and technical initiatives, standards have emerged and proliferated. They can often be considered complex, difficult to understand, and it may be difficult to identify how they relate to each other.

In the context of Process Management, major standards play a key role in solution development and interoperability of process work performed by users.

This document provides a high level description and positioning of contemporaries BPM standards: BPMN, XPDL, BPEL, and BPSim.


The Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) specification provides a graphical notation for expressing business processes in a Business Process Diagram (BPD). The objective of BPMN is to support process management by both technical users and business users. It provides a notation that is intuitive to business users yet able to represent complex process semantics. The BPMN execution semantics is fully formalized. The Object Management Group (OMG) is using the experience of the business process notations that have preceded BPMN to create the next generation notation that combines readability, flexibility, and expandability.

The BPMN specification also provides a mapping between the graphics of the notation to underlying the constructs of execution languages, such as BPEL4WS.


The Workflow Management Coalition has been developing workflow specifications for many years. These specifications are designed for the developers of workflow software products to implement solutions that are consistent, complete, and interoperable with other systems.

The XML Process Definition Language (XPDL) defines how business processes are defined through modeling tools, in order to be executed by a workflow engine. This means that if a business process is defined in XPDL through a modeling tool, then a workflow engine can execute that business process if both software tools comply with the XPDL specification.

Although the XPDL specification defines the process activities, how they are performed, and the sequence in which they occur, the specification does not define how the process should be visualized.

XPDL defines an XML schema to exchange the process definition, both the graphics and the semantics of a workflow business process. XPDL contains elements to hold graphical information, such as the X and Y position of the nodes, as well as executable aspects which would be used to run a process. The latest version of XPDL has been designed specifically to store all aspects of a BPMN diagram. This distinguishes XPDL from BPEL which focuses exclusively on the executable aspects of the process. BPEL does not contain elements to represent the graphical aspects of a process diagram.


Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) is a XML-based language used to define enterprise business processes within Web services.

The key objective of BPEL is to standardize the format of business process flow definition so companies can work together seamlessly using Web services. BPEL extends the Web services interaction model and enables it to support business transactions.

BPEL is based on Web services in the sense that each of the business process involved is assumed to be implemented as a Web service. Processes written in BPEL can orchestrate interactions between Web services using XML documents in a standardized manner. These processes can be executed on any platform or product that complies with the BPEL specification.

BPEL supports two different types of business processes:

  • Executable processes: Models the actual behavior of a participant in a business interaction. They follow the orchestration paradigm and can be executed by an orchestration engine.
  • Abstract processes: Uses process descriptions that specify the mutually visible message exchange behavior of each of the parties involved in the protocol, without revealing their internal behavior.

Business Process Simulation (BPSim) is a standard published by the Workflow Management Coalition (WfMC).

BPSim allows parametrization of a process model (BPMN, XPDL) for Structural and Capacity Analysis purposes. It allows parametrisation from different perspectives (Resource, Time, Control, Cost, Property, and Priority) for analysis purposes.

BPSim allows business process models captured either in BPMN or XPDL to be augmented with information in support of rigorous methods of analysis. BPSim also accommodates the output of results data, from predictive simulation analysis.

Standards inter-operability

Many BPM tools and solutions offer capabilities to import and/or export files from a standard format to another.

The Object Management Group (OMG) formed the BPMN Model Interchange Working Group (BPMN MIWG) to support, facilitate, and promote the interchange of BPMN Models.

BPMN MIWG mandate is to facilitate and demonstrate BPMN Model Interchange amongst tools that implement the standard, by defining various test cases that address both breadth and depth of BPMN Model Interchange taking into consideration the various defined conformance classes of the BPMN standard. It also works on resolving vendors’ misinterpretation of the specification that inhibit BPMN Model Interchange.

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