BPM Voices: What is BPMN 2.0 and why does it matter?

In this column, Claus Jensen gives a brief overview of BPMN 2.0 and explains why IBM®'s support for this standard in its business process management offerings is an important advantage in developing complex BPM systems. This content is part of the IBM Business Process Management Journal.

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Claus Torp Jensen (ctjensen@us.ibm.com), Senior Technical Staff Member, IBM

Claus JensenClaus Torp Jensen is a Senior Technical Staff Member and Chief Architect for SOA-BPM-EA Technical Strategy at IBM in Somers, NY. He leads IBM's SOA Foundation team, working on the convergence of different architectural disciplines. Claus is a member of the WebSphere Foundation Architecture Board.

Prior to joining IBM, Claus had ten years of experience as a Chief Architect and SOA Evangelist.


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14 December 2011

What is BPMN 2.0?

BPMN 2.0 is a formal industry standard that enables business process management systems to design and execute well-defined processes. BPMN 2.0 is applicable across a range of design and development tasks spanning from pure business descriptions to executable artifacts and the highest level of detail. As such, BPMN 2.0 is also a good format for the interchange of process resources between tools and repositories.


What kind of support does IBM provide BPMN 2.0?

In the best tradition of IBM's commitment to standards, IBM has been working diligently to ensure that all process modeling capable IBM tools (IBM BlueWorks Live, IBM Business Process Manager, WebSphere Business Modeler, Rational Software Architect and Rational System Architect) support BPMN 2.0 based interchange, as illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1. IBM support for BPMN 2.0
IBM support for BPMN 2.0

Each of the products shown in Figure 1 supports both the import and export of BPMN 2.0 based artifacts. (Note that WebSphere Business Modeler imports BPMN 2.0 artifacts only via WebSphere Business Compass). While the various tools serve different roles and purposes, and therefore leverage different subsets of BPMN 2.0 elements, all of them will support interchanges based on the full BPMN 2.0 schema and will gracefully handle import of any BPMN 2.0 compliant artifact.

In addition to enabling the modeling tools for BPMN 2.0, IBM delivers industry content in BPMN 2.0 format, such as the process models delivered with IBM’s Banking Information Framework. Delivering content in standard industry formats enables the consumer of that content to choose the context and lifecycle within which the content is leveraged for accelerated business value.


Why does this matter?

The ability to exchange information effectively is a core capability for any collaborative environment, and BPMN 2.0 fulfills an important role in exchanging information about process artifacts. The advantage of being able to interchange content in BPMN 2.0 format is twofold:

  • Using a standardized language with standardized visualization elements supports common understanding across roles and activities. Various tools will render process models in a recognizable and similar fashion, which allows people to talk about and define business processes effectively throughout the life cycle of a project.
  • Using a computer processable interchange format enables the use of existing content as an accelerator and starting point for process modeling tasks. Various tools will be able to consume content from outside their own environments, which is particularly important for the use of content from a standard industry model like the IBM Banking Information Framework.

Conclusion

Industry standards may seem very formal and not directly relevant to most enterprises, but in truth complying with broad-based industry format standards is a key enabler for accelerated value in a model-driven environment. Most business process management initiatives will involve, sooner or later, multiple roles, tools and assets, hence the ability to seamlessly interchange information across role and tool boundaries is a key ingredient of an effective development process.

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