Business process elements

A business process diagram is a graphical representation of a business process flow, which consists of a sequence of activity elements and flow controls elements. The Requirements Management (RM) application supports a subset of elements from the core element set of Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) standard.

Explanations of the business process diagram elements are based on the Business Process Modeling Notation Specification from Object Management Group (OMG).

Table 1. Business process swimlane dividers
Element Explanation Graphical Representation
Pool A pool represents a participant in a business-to-business process. A participant is a business entity (such as a company, company division, or customer) or a business role (such as a buyer or a seller), which controls or is responsible for a business process. High-level or complex processes can include multiple participants, each of whom controls a process in an organization. Each participant is associated with one pool.

Pools are not used in simple processes.

Lane A lane is a subpartition within a pool in a business-to-business process or a separate grouping of elements in a simple process. Lanes organize and categorize activities. Lanes are often used for internal roles (such as manager, associate), systems (such as an enterprise application), or an internal department (such as shipping or finance).
Table 2. Business process flow object elements
Element Explanation Graphical representation

An event is something that occurs during a business process. Events affect the flow of the process and usually have a cause (trigger) and an impact (result). There are three types of events, which are based on when they affect the flow: start, intermediate, and end.

Start event

Start events begin a process.

Start event
Intermediate event

An intermediate event occurs during a process. The event affects the flow of the process, but does not start or directly terminate the process.

Intermediate send or receive event
End event The end event ends the flow of a process and does not have any outgoing sequence flows. End event

A task is a single activity that is included in a process. A task is used when the work in the process is not broken down to a finer level of process detail.

Subprocess A subprocess is a single flow object element that represents a set of activities.
Data object Data objects do not have a direct effect on the sequence flow or message flow of the process, but they do provide information about functions within the process, such as how documents, data, and other objects are used and updated during the process. Data objects can provide information that is required or output by the process. They can be used to represent many different types of objects, both electronic and physical. All data objects must be contained by a process or a subprocess.
Decision point (gateway) A decision point (or gateway) controls the divergence and convergence of multiple sequence flows. It determines branching, forking, merging, and joining of paths. Icons in the diamond shape indicate the type of flow control behavior. The types of control are as follows:
  • Decision point (inclusive): An inclusive (OR) decision and merging gateway. This decision represents a branching point where alternatives are based on conditional expressions that are contained within the outgoing sequence flow. In some sense, it is a group of related independent binary (yes or no) decisions. Because each path is independent, all combinations of the paths can be taken, from 0 to all. However, set up the gateway so that at least one path is taken. A default condition might be used to ensure that at least one path is taken.
  • Decision point (exclusive): A data-based exclusive decision and merging gateway. Data-based decisions represent a branching point where alternatives are based on conditional expressions that are contained in the outgoing sequence flow. An exclusive gateway restricts the flow so only one of a set of alternatives can be chosen during run time.
  • Parallel: A parallel (AND) gateway that provides a mechanism to synchronize parallel flow and to create parallel flow. These gateways are not required to create parallel flow, but they can be used to clarify the behavior of complex situations where a string of gateways is used and parallel flow is required.

Each type of control affects both the incoming and outgoing flow.

Inclusive Gateway
Exclusive Gateway
Parallel Gateway
Table 3. Business process connector elements.
Note: In previous versions of the RM application, the following connector elements were shapes that you might choose from the palette. As of version 6.0.3, those shapes are no longer available. You must create the connections between the shapes in your business process diagrams. For more information, see step 8 in Creating diagrams to support requirements.
Element Explanation Graphical representation
Sequence flow

A sequence flow is represented by a solid line with a solid arrowhead. Sequence flows show the order in which activities are performed in a single process. Flow connectors show the direction of flow from a source to a target. The sequence flow can cross the boundaries between lanes, but cannot cross the boundaries of a pool.

Sequence flow:
Message flow

A message flow is represented by a dashed line with an open arrowhead. Message flows depict the contents of a communication and the flow of messages between two participants (in separate pools) that are prepared to send and receive the messages. Flow connectors show the direction of flow from a source to a target. A message flow crosses pool boundaries to show the interactions between these separate participants.

Message flows are not available in simple processes.

Message event:

Association An association is represented by a dotted line and is used to associate information in the form of text annotations with flow objects.
Table 4. Business process supportive elements
Element Explanation Graphical representation
Annotation Annotations are mechanisms for the designer to provide more textual information for the reader of a business process diagram.