The use of BPMN symbols, specifically the BPMN 2.0 notation symbols, can represent a challenge for modeling beginners. It’s ironic because BPMN notation is an example of an initiative created to standardize a rule so that everyone involved in the BPM process can ‘speak the same language.’
Furthermore, by defining BPMN symbols, different tools used are now able to use the same ‘language’, facilitating not only the integration but the interpretation of flows, diagrams, maps and models by different professionals, without the risk of confusion.
View more: 10 BPMN PDF books, texts, and brochures.
To be more aware of the specific details of using BPMN symbols and best practices, this article will show 10 examples of BPMN symbols being used in the wrong way.
Along with some of the most common mistakes, there will also be their solutions with correct BPMN usage.
Before looking at the inappropriate uses of BPMN symbols with examples and solutions, check out this post that provides an illustrated summary of the main BPMN symbols used: Why and how to use the most widely accepted BPMN 2.0 notation.
The 10 most common mistakes in the use of BPMN symbols
As mentioned, here is a presentation of BPMN used incorrectly, with examples of their correct usage, with the illustrated solutions created using https://app.heflo.com, a process flow creator anybody can use.
Here they are:
Error with BPMN symbols #1: Using the message flow between lanes of the same pool.
The message flow (dotted arrows) can not be used to join elements within the same pool to each other; the correct BPMN is to use the regular flow (unbroken line).
Error with BPMN symbols #2: Using the sequence flow between pools.
In this case, the BPMN example illustrates that you can not use a sequence flow (continuous arrow) between pools. The correct use of this BPMN symbol is in the same pool (between lanes). If between pools then employ the message flow (dotted arrow), as illustrated below:
Bad Practice with BPMN symbols #3: Entering a start and forgetting to indicate an end.
This is an example of basic best practice using BPMN symbols that should not be forgotten, see:
Error with BPMN symbols #4: Presenting an intermediate event excluded from the process flow.
As the name implies, the Intermediate Event indicates where something happens (an Event) somewhere between the start and end of a Process. It will affect the flow of the Process, but will not start or (directly) terminate the Process. Below is the correct way to proceed:
Error with BPMN symbols #5: Using annotations to define the process flow.
Text Annotations are a mechanism for a modeler to provide additional text information for the reader of a BPMN Diagram. The Text Annotation object can be connected to a particular object on the Diagram with an Association, but does not affect the flow of the Process. Here’s how to do it:
Error with BPMN symbols #6: Connecting a gateway without using a sequence flow.
Gateways must be connected only by sequence flows. In the BPMN example above, this is done using a default flow and a conditional flow, which are incorrect. See how it’s done correctly in the next illustration:
Error with BPMN symbols #7: Entering an end and forgetting to indicate at least one start.
If there is an End Event, then there MUST be at least one Start Event:
Error with BPMN symbols #8: Using the start of flow in a pool and the end (of the same flow) in another.
The star and end of the same flow should always be represented in the same pool such as in the example below:
Error with BPMN symbols #9: A task disconnected from the rest of the process.
Task 3 will never be executed in the BPMN flow from the example above, as it is not connected to any start event. Below is a case of the appropriate BPMN:
Bad Practice with BPMN symbols #10: Task 3 does not continue to an end in the process.
An End Event is OPTIONAL: a given Process level—a Process or an Expanded Sub-Process—MAY (is NOT REQUIRED to) have this shape:
These examples were only found thanks to a graduate study in computer science and BPMN.