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Process Modeling Notation

A business process is a collection of activities designed to produce a specific output for a particular customer or market. It implies a strong emphasis on how the work is done within an organization, in contrast to a product's focus on what is produced. A process is thus a specific ordering of work activities across time and place, with a beginning, an end, and clearly defined inputs and outputs: a structure for action. The notation used to depict a business process is illustrated here.

Business process element.

The business process:

  • Can affect more than one organizational unit
  • Can have a horizontal organizational impact
  • Creates value of some kind for the customer; customers can be internal or external

A business process model typically defines these elements:

  • The goal or reason for the process
  • Specific inputs
  • Specific outputs
  • Resources consumed
  • Activities that are performed in some order, and
  • Events that drive the process

The process notation implies a flow of activities from left to right. Typically an Event element is placed to the left of the process and the output to the right. To specifically notate the internal activities, Activity elements can be placed inside the Process element.

The BPMN File

One popular notation and approach to business modeling is the Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN). This notation is specifically targeted at the business modeling community and has a relatively direct mapping to UML through a BPMN Profile. Sparx Systems provides a built-in profile for BPMN in Enterprise Architect.