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Business Process Diagrams

Business Process Diagrams are one of the most commonly used diagrams to describe the way a business works; they can also be used to describe technology and engineering processes. You can draw the diagrams using the basic elements of the language or alternatively you can create more detailed diagrams using many of the advanced elements. The level of details you choose will not only be determined by the complexity of the processes you are describing but also by the audiences' ability to interpret and understand the diagram. At their simplest they will comprise of a sequence of activities with intervening gateways that act as decision points. You can add Pools and Lanes to a diagram to indicate the participants in the process or who is responsible for each of the Activities and Tasks.

A BPMN Process Model using Pools and Lanes, constructed with Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect

Business Process Diagram with two gateways and a single Pool that contains three Lanes indicating three participants.

To create BPMN elements and relationships on Business Process diagrams in either BPMN 2.0 or BPEL formats, you can use the 'BPMN 2.0 Business Process' pages of the Diagram Toolbox.

BPMN 2.0 Diagram Orientation

On a BPMN 2.0 diagram, you can set the flow orientation to horizontal or vertical, or none (the default).

To set or clear the orientation, right-click on the diagram background and click on 'Set Diagram Flow Direction'. Then click on either:

  • None (the default, no specific orientation set)
  • Horizontal (diagram flows across the page, Pool and Lane elements occupy the full width of the diagram), or
  • Vertical (diagram flows down the page, Pool and Lane elements occupy the full height of the diagram)

Access

Use any of the methods outlined here to display the Diagram Toolbox, then click on Search to display the 'Find Toolbox Item' dialog and specify 'BPMN 2.0 Business Process'.

Ribbon

Design > Diagram > Toolbox : Search to display the 'Find Toolbox Item' dialog and specify 'BPMN 2.0 Business Process'

Keyboard Shortcuts

Ctrl+Shift+3 : Toolbox hamburger icon | BPMN 2.0 | BPMN 2.0 Business Process

Other

Click the Chevron Right icon on the Diagram caption bar to display the Diagram Toolbox, then

Toolbox hamburger icon | BPMN 2.0 | BPMN 2.0 Business Process

BPMN 2.0 Business Process Elements

Item

Use to

Business Process

Extend a composite Activity that defines a business process.

BPEL

Define the behavior of an executable or abstract business process.

Activity

Represent work that is performed within a Business Process. An Activity can be modeled as a:

  • Sub-Process - a compound Activity that is defined as a flow of other BPMN 2.0 elements or
  • Task - an atomic Activity that cannot be broken down into a smaller unit

As a sub-process, the Activity can be made a composite element that links to a child diagram containing the flow of other BPMN elements.

A BPMN Activity is initially created on a diagram with the name centered at the top. If you drag elements onto the Activity the name can be obscured, so the system automatically moves the name into the top-left corner out of the way. You can also control this movement manually, by right-clicking on the element and selecting the 'Is Expanded' option to toggle the setting.

Global Task

Define a task or activity performed in the top-level process, at a higher level of execution.

Data Object

Provide or store the information for an Activity.

Data Store

Represent a mechanism for an Activity to retrieve or update stored information.

Start Event

Define the initiating event in a process.

Elements of this type cannot be edge-mounted on other elements.

Intermediate Event

Define an intermediate event in a process.

Elements of this type can only be edge-mounted on Activity elements.

End Event

Define the terminating event in a process.

Elements of this type cannot be edge-mounted on other elements.

Gateway

Define a decision point in a business process.

If a condition is true then processing continues one way; if false, then another.

Pool

Extend a Partition element to logically organize an Activity.

Lane

Extend a Partition element to subdivide a Pool.

Message

Represent the contents of a communication between two elements.

Group

Extend a Boundary element to group other elements.

Text Annotation

Create a comment.

BPMN 2.0 Business Process Connectors

Sequence Flow

Use to: Extend a Control Flow relationship to define the flow of activity.

Association

Link the information and Artifacts with BPMN graphic elements.

Message Flow

Extend a Control Flow relationship to define the flow of communications in the process.

Data Association

Move data between Data Objects, Data Store, Properties and Activities, Processes.

Conversation Link

Connect a Conversation Node with a Pool, in either direction.

BPMN 2.0 Business Process Connectors

Item

Use to

Sequence Flow

Sequence Flow

Use to: Extend a Control Flow relationship to define the flow of activity.

Association

Link the information and Artifacts with BPMN graphic elements.

Message Flow

Extend a Control Flow relationship to define the flow of communications in the process.

Data Association

Move data between Data Objects, Data Store, Properties and Activities, Processes.

Conversation Link

Connect a Conversation Node with a Pool, in either direction.

Notes

  • The appearance and specification of many elements and connectors are defined by Tagged Values