How to Draw a BPMN Diagram


Lead-In Part

A Business Process Model and Notation, or BPMN, is a graphical illustration depicting business processes in a specific business process model. The primary usage of BPMN is to ensure that the entire business process is well understood by both technical and business users from a team. Typically, a BPMN diagram provides a notation that helps the business users understand the business-related information but can also depict the complex process semantics for the technical department.

In a traditional BPMN 2.0 diagram, there are four elements that help the business and technical team understand the business processes:

  • Flow Objects or Elements: In BPMN diagrams, flow objects are those that state or modify any process, like events, gateways, or activities.
  • Connecting Objects: Connecting objects in BPMN illustrates the order of the activities, like sequence flow, association, or message flow.
  • Swimlanes: Swimlanes represent major players in the process with pools and lanes.
  • Artifacts: Artifacts are important information that aids at different levels, like data objects, groups, or annotations.

A project manager will require BPMN software, like EdrawMax, when they are looking for ways to create the diagram easier. A BPMN software will provide the right tools, symbols, and components that would map out different elements at different levels. In addition, BPMN software provides different ways to capture business processes.

Importance of BPMN

The BPMN diagram illustrates the steps of a definite business process from beginning to end. For teams working on different projects, a business process management notation models a detailed sequence of multiple activities and data that is needed to complete the task. 

BPMN 2.0 creates a more detailed standard to illustrate business process modeling using new notations and symbols. Most business managers use BPMN along with a decision flow chart as it helps the organizations map out a detailed decision.

Some of the benefits of using BPMN are:

  • BPMN helps organizations understand different internal procedures.
  • With BPMN, organizations can find a way to communicate internal procedures using a standard methodology.
  • BPMN diagrams provide a visual of the process that is understood by both business and technical departments.
  • A business process modeling notation also assists the managers and executives in maintaining overall consistency in the process.
  • A BPMN facilitates risk-free experimentation between different processes and flows. At the same time, it encourages us to find ways to improve overall operational efficiency.

BPMN diagrams also help large organizations document the business process consistently, which ensures that the relevant clients and investors stay up-to-date with the entire process. By keeping everyone in the loop, business owners or stakeholders can easily respond to any query or doubt in the processes.

How to Draw a BPMN

The best possible way to draw a BPMN diagram easily is by using dedicated software that provides elements, symbols, and customization options. In order to create BPMN diagrams easily, a business team can go ahead with the free BPMN diagram software that comes up with built-in templates and symbols and has all the elements that are required to outline different processes and understand the flow. For depicting personalized business process flows, such software provides additional support to stylize the content, format text, and reposition BPMN elements as per the requirements.

Check out the following steps to a BPMN diagram easily:

  • Launch & Register: The first step you need to do when creating a BPMN diagram using software is to check the compatibility with your operating system. For instance, EdrawMax comes with Windows, macOS, Linux, and even Web versions. Depending on your need, you can go ahead and download this free BPMN diagram software in your system. Once installed, you can use Google or your email address to sign up and access all the features that it offers. By registering, you can also access all the files stored in the personal cloud.
  • Access Templates: On the homepage of this BPMN diagram software, you will find different diagram types categorized as per their features. Head to the ‘Flowchart’ diagram category that you will find under ‘Basic’ diagrams. Here, you can find different flowchart types, like Basic Flowcharts, Data Flow diagrams, Cross Functional flowcharts, and more. Click on ‘BPMN,’ and the system will show you some pre-built BPMN templates to get you started. Additionally, you can check out free BPMN templates from the templates section. Head to the ‘Templates’ option that you will find on the left of the homepage and search for BPMN. You will get all the user-generated BPMN diagrams that can easily be duplicated and customized.
  • Build from Scratch: If you have experience building BPMN diagrams, click on ‘BPMN’ followed by ‘+’ to start with the Blank Drawing. In the canvas board of this BPMN diagram software, you will find symbols on the left side, styling options on the right, color modification options at the bottom, and additional features on the top toolbar. Start placing the BPMN components as required. You can connect these events and gateways with different connecting objects.
  • Add Notations: A BPMN diagram has multiple Callouts, like Callout, Open/Close Brackets, Kaboom, and more. In addition, there are important BPMN elements, like Task, Gateway, Start, Start Timer, Intermediate Message, Intermediate Escalation, Intermediate Error, and more. Start by defining the scope and purpose of the BPMN diagram. Followed by adding the start event and working forward toward completing the process. In-between the Start and End processes, start adding activities to each swimlane that can easily be identified by adding arrows between different steps. Once done, add the activities to the swimlane, and add gateways and further activities between steps. With the help of connectors, you can easily connect all the processes from start to end.
  • Export & Share: Once the BPMN diagram is completed, you can download it to your system for offline purposes. This free BPMN tool can export the notation diagram in several formats, including VSDX, HTML, JPEG, SVG, PNG, PDF, DOCS, PPTX, and more. In addition, you can also create a slideshow to present the diagram with your team. Such features come in handy when one has to showcase the BPMN diagram during virtual meetings. Furthermore, one can share the BPMN diagram via URL or on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Line.

Final Thoughts

As a business manager who plans to help the entire team understand the project and its flow, BPMN is considered a great modeling notation tool. Unlike other flowcharts, like UML diagrams, BPMN provides in-depth information and insights about any business process. At the same time, such diagrams come in extremely handy when dealing with process design and analysis.

As you saw here, creating a BPMN diagram with EdrawMax serves multiple purposes. For starters, the tool is free and comes with user-generated BPMN templates that help in creating complex BPMN diagrams easily. Furthermore, it lets you import BPMN diagrams that are built in Visio and offers more customizing and collaborating options than other BPMN software.