A Quick Read About BPMN

There are many facets to forecasting, some better than others. At Captario, the proprietary decision-making tool Captario SUM® leverages something called Business Process Model & Notation, BPMN. BPMN can represent, in graphical form, a simulatable business process.

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BPMN Basics

An initial benefit of using BPMN is that it provides a notation easily understandable by all business users — from business analysts and technical developers to the business people designing and managing the development process. It can also capture enough detail to ensure that the understanding is common to all participants.

Using the BPMN methodology, it’s possible to capture a Business Process Model as a map of activities connected by sequence flows. BPMN is purpose-built as a simple mechanism for creating business process models while simultaneously handling the inherent complexity of modeling a business process.

To address the conflict between simplicity and complexity, BPMN has a small set of three core elements, Flow Objects, so modelers do not have to learn and recognize many different shapes.

The three Flow Objects are:

Events – An Event refers to something that “happens” during the business process. An Event impacts the process flow and is often caused by a trigger. An Event is represented by a circle.

Activity – An Activity refers to work that the company performs. An Activity is represented by a rounded-corner rectangle.

Gateway – A Gateway controls the divergence and convergence of sequence flow. A Gateway is represented by a diamond.

Connecting the Different Objects

The flow objects need to be connected to create a skeletal business process structure. The connectors used at Captario are:

Sequence Flow – A Sequence Flow refers to the sequence by which activities are performed during a business process. A Sequence Flow is represented by a solid line with an arrow at the end.

Message Flow – A Message Flow refers to messages between separate process participants (business entities or business roles). A Message Flow is represented by a dashed line with an open arrowhead.

For modeling purposes, the combination of flow objects and connectors allows for the creation of accessible and understandable diagrams that depict any business process flow. Further, let the modeler understand the potential consequences of every decision.

BPMN example.

Using BPMN

Overall, BPMN aims to communicate information to various intended audiences and allows the modeler to construct either specific segments or the entire end-to-end process. It is also possible to create models consisting of multiple processes. In this case, processes can be modeled as Public or Private. Public processes are defined by the messages going between processes, e.g. between the paint customer and the paint vendor. Private processes include details about the internal sequence flows, e.g. the different processes for the paint customer and the paint vendor.

Usually, the modeling of a business process first addresses the high-level activities to get an overview and is then followed by diagrams addressing lower levels in more detail. Depending on the business process, the level of precision may vary. Nevertheless, BPMN can cater to any level regardless of required precision.

BPMN Modeling in Captario SUM®

Captario SUM® captures the process of a drug development project in a BPMN diagram. The process is executed a large number of times and the results are analyzed and aggregated. The merits of using BPMN modeling include building out and handling models with high complexity, with dependencies both within and across models. BPMN diagrams can further provide a solid base of information for how to mitigate and reap the benefits of any potential outcome of the development process. The diagrams can represent the whole chain of events spanning from R&D to commercialization. Variations of the process diagrams can be used to test risk reduction or recovery strategies. The result is often a better development plan with a higher expected value, possibly with lower risk.