Organizational Concepts

There are specific times and uses for different concept or structural elements related to designing business process models.

The following table outlines concepts and structural elements related to designing business process models:

Concept or structural element Description When to use
Subflow A subflow is a subset of activities in a business process model. In the GPM, a subflow is represented as an icon in the process model. You add the subflow icon to your process model and then define the components of the subflow. The subflow is invoked in sequence during process execution. Also see the documentation on layers. Use subflows to streamline the display of your process model in the GPM by organizing a logical subset of activities in a single layer of the process model. This facilitates easy navigation among the separate parts, or layers, of your process model, while providing a simpler visual display of the process as a whole at the parent-layer level.
Subprocess Invoke subprocesses from within a business process model using either the Invoke Subprocess service (sometimes called Invoke Business Process service) or the Spawn BPML activity See Identifying SubprocessesIdentifying Subprocesses. For help determining whether to use Spawn or Invoke Subprocess to invoke a subprocess, refer to the following tips:
  • The Spawn activity asynchronously initiates another business process.
  • The Invoke Subprocess service, as Sterling B2B Integrator service, is not portable to another BPML implementation, whereas Spawn – a standard BPML activity – is.
  • Invoke Subprocess offers multiple configuration options, such as the ability to invoke the subprocess synchronously, run it inline, and so forth, that Spawn does not.
Layer Layers are subflows contained within the business process model. The GPM enables you to chunk subsets of your business process model components into subflows, to streamline the depiction of the parent process' flow in the GPM workspace. You can display the subflow activities in a separate workspace. Use the Layers tab in the GPM for easy navigation between the parent flow and any subflows.
Node Each activity depicted in a business process model in the GPM is a node. You can view an alphabetical list of the nodes in each layer of a process model. Use the Nodes tab in the GPM for easy navigation when viewing and modifying the activities that make up the layers in your process models.
Decision point Activity in a business process model at which defined rules specify the processing activity or path to take. This activity is depicted by the Choice BPML icon. The Choice activity is a parent activity to child activities that it initiates.

For more information, see Decision Points and Rules in Business Process ModelsDecision Points and Rules in Business Process Models.

Include a decision point in a process model at a point where the continuation of the path must be determined according rules you define. The decision point can involve selecting one of two or more possible paths, or it may be part of a linear process that continues according to a rule.
Rule Rules are directions you define at a decision point in a process to determine the processing path. Use with Choice BPML activity for complex activities that require selection of one of multiple alternate activities. For more information, see Decision Points and Rules in Business Process ModelsDecision Points and Rules in Business Process Models and Defining and Assigning Rules and ConditionsDefining and Assigning Rules and Conditions.
Loop A flow, typically a subflow, within a business process model that repeats itself. Use when you need an activity to repeat. The Repeat BPML icon initiates the loop.
Child activities Activities preceded in the business process model by a specific, structurally required BPML activity, such as Choice Start, Sequence Start or All Start. Review the BPML activities descriptions for information about how to structure parent-child relationships in business process models. See BPML Activities in Business Process ModelsBPML Activities in Business Process Models.
Parent activities Activities in the process model that initiate child activities. For example, Sequence Start is a parent BPML activity to the services that follow it. Review the BPML activities descriptions for information about the parent activities to use so that your models process correctly. See BPML Activities in Business Process ModelsBPML Activities in Business Process Models.
OnFault A BPML element you use to configure error handling in your process model. OnFault activities are associated with other individual activities. Include OnFault activities when you need to enable a specific activity in a business process to recover from faults and allow the process to continue. An OnFault Group is a subflow.