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  Standards

 

Why are Standards So Relevant?

Organizations making an investment in process modeling and workflow software want to be sure that their investment is going to be protected. With standards based systems, users can have confidence that they will not be reliant on a particular vendor and that essential functionality will be met - reducing the risk involved.

Today in the increasingly interoperable world - this becomes all the more important. Let's give a few examples here to highlight the issue:

  • Process models need to be shared with business partners and consultants
  • Process modeling systems need to interact with various workflow systems
  • Workflow systems need to interoperate with those of other organizations whenever business processes are conducted across organizational boundaries.

An open standard gives you options for the future.

 

BPMN

The Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) is a key standard for KAISHA-Tec. The BPMN graphics make up a complete process modeling notation to form a Business Process Diagram (BPD).

BPMN allows you to work very simply at a high level or in detail for a full "in-depth" analysis, the level of precision in the diagram depending on the result you want to achieve. A simple diagram can also be enhanced later for a more complete analysis of course.

BPM is in fact bringing together the previously separate areas of Process Modeling, Simulation, Workflow, Enterprise Application Integration (EAI), and Business-to-Business (B2B) integration into a single standard. BPMN is a core feature of Business Process Management (BPM).

 

Why BPMN?

Historically, each vendor provided their own individual notations in their tools and methodologies. This was also the case for ActiveModeler. Our first product offering was introduced in 1995, before the existence of any well-defined standards.

The Business Process Management Initiative (BPMI) brought together a consortium of process modeling vendors and consultants to work on a common standard notation and importantly the business user was the target for the standard. Their website is at www.BPMI.org. The BPMI team consolidated the best ideas from many of the divergent notations on the market into a single notation.


BPMN also includes a key capability: an ability to produce a mapping from the business-oriented notation to an execution language e.g. BPEL4WS. This creates a new standardized bridge between the business analysis and the IT implementation that was previously handled by ad-hoc methods.

The end users of standardized process modeling tools will benefit greatly because the models they develop will be consistent regardless of the tool of origin or purpose. This will greatly aid communication, collaboration and standardization.

The mapping to execution languages provides a bridge that was before handled by IT developers re-creating process models for input into the appropriate execution tool. Such a manual connection between the business-level model and the IT-level model is error prone and loses traceability between the original requirements and the executed processes. So the possibilities for BPMN look very exciting.

In adopting BPMN as a notation, KAISHA-Tec is bringing its many years of process modeling knowledge into the BPMN arena and allowing both customers and our organization itself to benefit from the opportunities of a standards based platform.

 

What Is BPMN?

The Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) is a new standard to model business process flows and web services and the first official release to the public was made in May 2004. The notation specification represents more than two years of effort by the BPMI Notation Working Group.


The primary goal of the BPMN standard was to provide a notation that is readily understandable by all business users, from the business analysts that create the initial drafts of the processes, to the technical developers responsible for implementing the technology and finally, to the business people who will manage and monitor the processes.

An equally important goal of BPMN was to provide an internal model that will enable the generation of XML languages for the execution of business processes e.g. BPEL4WS (Business Process Execution Language for Web Services) and BPML (Business Processing Modeling Language). Therefore, BPMN creates an important standard bridge between the business process design and process implementation. BPMN was developed with a solid mathematical foundation so that a precise execution language can be produced.

The end result of BPMN is a Business Process Diagram (BPD), which shows the flow of activities based on a standard graphical notation.

 

Mapping a BPMN diagram to Execution Languages

A key goal with BPMN was to create a bridge from the business-oriented process modeling notation to IT-oriented execution languages. The graphical objects of BPMN, supported by a rich set of object attributes, are readily mappable to process execution languages such as BPEL4WS (Business Process Execution Language for Web Services) which is becoming a defacto standard for process execution.

ActiveModeler will provide bridges to various execution languages and workflow engines through its unique pluggable architecture as new standards emerge. The aim here it not to be locked in to one standard, but to host any standard.

 

The Road ahead

It seems very likely that many companies will support the BPMN standard and further integration to execution languages and program development environments e.g. UML will take place.

For BPMN itself, the plan is to make maintenance versions available, perhaps annually. The goal is also to produce standardized Artifact sets to support vertical business markets e.g. insurance, manufacturing, and finance. In addition, BPMN will be a good platform for higher-level business modeling which includes, for example, the modeling of business rules and business strategy.

BPMN has now been passed on to the OMG for full formalization as a standard. Considering that the OMG is currently developing UML 2.0, which includes Activity Diagrams, it is possible that a consolidation of BPMN Business Process Diagrams and UML Activity Diagrams will take place in the future.

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