What is BPM, BPMS, EA, BPA? A Short Definition Introduction

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ORIGINAL: All About Requirements

Don’t you just love buzz words and abbreviations? Abbreviations come in handy in many situations but often confuse people not experienced with business process management.

Some of the most common concepts/abbreviations you will see are the following:

  • BPM – Business Process Management
  • BPA – Business Process Analysis
  • BPMN – Business Process Modeling Language
  • EA – Enterprise Architecture
  • BPMS – Business Process Management Suite

BPM is an abbreviation for Business Process Management and refers to the management discipline where the approach is managing the processes. Often BPM is just an umbrella under which you handle various things regarding business processes. Usually when people talk about BPM they refer to AS-IS and TO-BE analysis of processes.

However, analysing your existing processes, documenting the analysis as AS-IS process diagrams and then designing the TO-BE processes is BPA –>Business Process Analysis (notice that BPA is also a part of BPM). Business Process Analysis (BPA) is about analysing the business needs and identify the business process requirements. In BPA the output is process analysis and business requirements – usually the output is captured in process diagrams drawn in modelling tools using for example BPMN as the modelling syntax.

BPMN (Business Process Modeling Notation) is simply a collection of graphical shapes you can use for drawing business process diagrams where the business process diagram is a sequence of business processes connected by control/message directions. Below is shown an example of a process drawn with the BPMN notation. The example is drawn in Microsoft Visio. If you want to draw BPMN diagrams in Visio a Visio BPMN Stencil can be found here (http://www.omg.org/bpmn/documents.htm)

BPMN example

The Visio Stencil contains BPMN figures as shown here:

 

Visio BPMN Stencil
Enterprise Architecture is a logical structure (architecture) of an enterprise. In enterprise architecture you design how the logical structure and often enterprise architecture is producing logical structural outputs of how the business structure should be – for example using UML structural diagrams such as Class diagrams and component diagrams. Usually enterprise architecture is produced using a modelling tool. In enterprise architecture you design how you business structure should be while in Business Process Analysis you analyse the “problem” and design the business processes”.

BPMS Business Process Management Suite is a suite of applications that can execute your designed business processes. BPMS is both a design-time and run-time environment. In a BPMS you will have a model-driven approach and you will be able to design and orchestrate your business processes and business rules and have them executed in run-time. BPMS is excellent for letting the business drive business changes and BPMS is excellent for workflows especially long workflows (more than 1 hour processing time).

To summarise, as you can see from the figure below the concepts are used for different purposes. When doing Business Process Analysis you are in a conceptual level designing how the processes should be outlined. When moving on to Enterprise Architecture you are on a logical level designing how the structure should be in order to support the conceptual design of business processes. Finally on implementation level you can manage and orchestrate how business processes and business rules are executed. However, please notice that there are some overlap between the various concepts – e.g. requirements are not just captured by one concept alone.

BPM layers

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