BPMN SWOT Analysis: Strengths and Weaknesses


This is part 1 of ‘Managing Business Processes with BPMN: SWOT Analysis’ where we take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of Managing Business Processes with BPMN. Next week we’ll take a look at the Opportunities and Threats.

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BPMN was recently standardized by ISO (International Organization for Standardization), the world’s largest developer of international standards. This has additionally increased the level of confidence and sustainability of BPMN. Since BPMN is standardized and well adopted, it has a potential for improving intra and interorganizational communication and collaboration. Besides, it has potential for standardized execution of BPMN diagrams and shift towards process-oriented applications.

BPMN specification defines execution semantics and diagram interchange. Execution semantics describes a clear and precise understanding of the operation of the BPMN elements, where diagram interchange enables interchange of BPMN diagrams, including graphical information that language users have control over (e.g. position of nodes and line routing points). Both of them (execution semantics and diagram interchange) improve interoperability between tools as well independence of modeling tools and vendors.

BPMN consist of over 100 graphical elements and defines different types of models (internal, public, choreographies, conversations, collaborations). These increases the possibilities of BPMN use and process models expressiveness. Additionally, BPMN defines extensibility mechanisms, which additionally increase the possibilities of BPMN use (e.g. adaptation for different domains, markets, etc.).

  • ISO standardized notation.
  • Large number of modelling elements.
  • Capability of modelling different types of processes (internal, public, choreographies, conversations, collaborations).
  • Good industrial support.
  • Large number of supporting tools for business modeling and management.
  • Standardized XML scheme.
  • Capable of being executed.
  • Capability of being extended and adapted.

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The BPMN standard is quite comprehensive. It is defined over 500 pages and consists of over 100 graphical process elements. This makes BPMN quite difficult to learn and adapt! In addition, if not learned comprehensively, users could interpret BPMN elements or the semantics of BPMN diagrams in different ways, which could lead to incorrect conclusions.

Despite its defined execution semantics, different BPMN vendors implement the execution of BPMN diagrams in different (i.e. non-standardized) ways. This makes it difficult to exchange BPMN diagrams between different tools and restricts modelers to specific products or vendors. In addition, the majority of BPMN tools offer only partial support for the execution of BPMN diagrams (i.e. only a subset of BPMN elements).

  • Complexity of the specification (over 500 pages).
  • Complexity of the notation (over 100 visual elements).
  • Poor interoperability between BPMN tools.
  • Non-standardized and/or incomplete support for execution of BPMN models.

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Gregor received his PhD in 2008 in the fields of software engineering and information systems and has nearly a decade of experience in BPMN, starting to investigate and actively use BPMN since its introduction in 2004. In addition, he has participated in the development of one of the first BPMN modeling utilities - a package of plugins for Visio, which were introduced early in 2005 and is the main author of the first BPMN poster (bpmn.itposter.net), which has been translated into several languages and already exceeded 50.000 downloads.