Is BPMN still too geeky for wide adoption in the enterprise ?

As the ‘finalisation task force’ put the belts and braces on BPMN 2.0 you have to ask whether this time it will succeed in being widely adopted in the enterprise or still be regarded as BPM’s internal pet project ?

I’ve yet to come across an organisation in the UK that has adopted it wholesale or even understand what BPMN is actually for (albeit limited to some of the FS industry in my travels that doesn’t mean no-one else does) but the many out there I’ve spoken to still scratch their head as to why they should bother at all. As it has shares roots with BPEL there’s a fair amount of an IT slant which puts of the business user of a BPM tool having to learn another standard when they can easily adopt their own for modelling which contains far less symbols to apply.

Whilst the interoperability card is often played as an advantage that’s only for the enterprise who wishes to really push the boat out and integrate systems using the same standards throughout but I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking these are few and far between.

I can’t knock the amount of effort that has gone into creating and enhancing BPMN to it’s current form but as with most standards looking for acceptance and adoption there should be more effort in general education and why it’s relevant without the geek speak involved.

De-geek BPMN and you may have a chance in others understanding the value.

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3 responses to “Is BPMN still too geeky for wide adoption in the enterprise ?

  1. Yes, for the aim to describing processes in a draft and only the happy path, there seems to be too much symbols. But you don´t have to use all of them. And I hope the discussed SIMPLE conformance class will stay for the released version. This will help to a wide adoption.

  2. A business modeler certainly does not need all BPMN symbols. So you can easily start with a sub-set of the BPMN standard, maybe including some further elements (not all of them) later on. My experience from several BPMN workshop is that business users don’t have big problems understanding the basic BPMN concepts, and usually they like the expressiveness of things like message events or even event-based gateways, once they understand them.But even if you only use a small part of BPMN: The existence of a standard is a big step for business process modeling. It can be the end of all the tool-provider’s proprietary notations or Visio based "freestyle" modeling. Almost all tool vendors now support BPMN, universities can teach BPMN, and everybody has a shared understanding of at least some basic elements. That is already a significant progress.I agree that we need more de-geeking of BPMN, more practical examples of business level diagrams, and also more guidance and modeling conventions for successfully applying BPMN.

  3. My experience (so far) has been that it isn’t too geeky to gain wide adoption – but software still matters. I use a subset of BPMN for whiteboard drawing that customers adopt and use easily. However, I don’t expect anyone to read the whole spec 🙂 Largely I agree with Thomas – BPMN should be a stable enough spec to allow for broad-based educational support.

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