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BPMN vs. Business Analysis

James Proctor
James Proctor


BPMN as a Notational Standard

Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) is an excellent symbolic notational standard to visually depict business processes (work activities, workflows, decision points, etc.). There are other process mapping standards as well (e.g., IDEF0). However, BPMN is the predominant symbolic notation standard for mapping business processes.

The BPMN standard is managed by the Object Management Group (OMG) consortium. OMG ensures the ongoing consistency, integrity and evolution of the standard. BPMN is the notational standard that we use for process mapping at Inteq.

Notational Standard Not an Analysis Technique

Hopefully, based on the above paragraphs, it’s clear that I am an advocate for BPMN. However, and this is the crux of this post, BPMN is simply a notational standard (and a very excellent notational standard). However, BPMN is not a business process analysis technique. Think of it as a tool that enables analysis.

There is an old expression that a fool with a tool is still a fool. In other words, I can select any reasonably intelligent high school student at random and teach that student the basics of BPMN in 90 minutes. The student could then create some great-looking diagrams. However, would those diagrams accurately represent the current state of a process or provide context for identifying opportunities to move to a more effective, efficient, agile future state? Absolutely not!

The Key Point

The key point of this post is to not conflate BPMN - the symbolic notational standard - with the high value work of process mapping and analysis provided by high performing business analysts. Business analysis (business systems analysis, business process analysis, etc.) requires business analysis expertise based on best practice techniques, skills and methods, as well as the critical thinking and interpersonal skills necessary to deeply engage Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and other stakeholders.

BPMN is an excellent tool to enable deep business analysis, but the magic of analysis, where the value of analysis is created, is in the work performed by high performing business analysts!

For additional insights into Current State Mapping and Analysis please see my white-paper 10 Perilous Misconceptions of Censuring Current State Mapping & Analysis.


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