Enterprise architects can use BPMN as common language for process modeling

With BPMN, enterprise architects can create models with direct input from business users and those same models can be translated by developers into executable code.

This is part three in our series, Roles of the Enteprise Architect with Business Process Management.


Being over-reliant on IT infrastructure to provide a solution can cause new difficulties. But this does not mean that the superhuman capabilities of IT should go unused.

"A lot of times I've seen organizations take a manual process and do exactly the same process in BPM." said Sandy Kemsley, an independent BPM analyst. "It's the IT capability that leverages BPM. The business will think about manual ways to improve process, but may not understand the capabilities of IT."

Kemsley believes that this where the enterprise architect can play a role. An enterprise architect should have the tools and knowledge to use technology to drive process improvement because he or she should have a handle on both business objectives and IT capability. More importantly, he or she should have the tools and technical expertise to align the two.

"Likely the enterprise architect will be doing some hands on work for high level business process management," said Kemsley. She suggests that some of that hands-on work can be done with an enterprise architecture modeling tool. "In an enterprise architecture modeling suite, one of the tools will be process modeling. It may not go down to the level of detail or connect to the executable BPM system, but it will be there."

Designing executable business processes is not usually a role of the enterprise architect. But high level modeling lets the architect create a model both business and IT can understand. Kemsley says that BPMN is becoming the modeling method of choice in many enterprises.

"The idea of BPMN is to provide a standardized visual syntax for how we represent process models," said Kemsley. "Because we deal with a standardized process modeling notation, we don't have the problems of somebody being able to transfer models back and forth."

Kemsley said the new version of BPMN will make it possible for enterprise architects to create high-level models that more closely resemble executable processes. "In BPMN version 2.0, there are more of the execution semantics that allow these process models to be more easily translated to the execution format."

Modeling with BPMN is only one way an enterprise architect can bring IT and business together. Kemsley believes the enterprise architect should look for ways to use technology in other ways. "The enterprise architect has to be a bit of an evangelist for the whole IT portfolio," said Kemsley.

The Role of Enterprise Architects in Business Process Management (BPM)

Part 1: Enterprise architecture methodology should start with broad vision
Part 2: Enterprise architects must look outside the boundaries of the project
Part 3: Enterprise architects can use BPMN as a common language for process modeling

Additional Resources
BPMN 2.0 adds notation to handle BPM choreography
The new edition of BPMN lets users create models that are more easily translated into executable code. BPMN does this by way of a new choreography model that adds XML schema.

BPMN learning guide
BPMN provides a vocabulary for drawing business processes similar to a flow chart. This guide provides links to background information to help you understand BPMN and various articles to help understand the context in which BPMN is being used.

Colum2.com, Sandy Kemsley's Blog
Independent BPM analyst Sandy Kemsley writes about BPM on her blog, Column2. The blog includes market and trend analysis, conference coverage, and original slideshow presentations on BPM.

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