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There are several approaches on how to model a business process in software applications (BPM software). For instance, a processes can be described in BPMN, EPC, IDEF0, SOMF, etc.

Additionally, different process execution languages such as BPEL, RPC, Wf-XML are available.

If I were to develop software for the BPM-market, which standards should I implement or focus on? Which standards are most suitable if my BPM software was going to be implemented in my client's IT-System?

  • I don't mean to discourage you but you must have recognized that there are number of free tools already in the market, why another one? – NoChance Mar 14 '12 at 10:35
  • True. However, this one is different in the sense that it will execute one ore multiple Knowledge-Based Engineering tools that are custom made for a specific engineering problem. The BPM application will act as a 'host' for these KBE tools. – user1268690 Mar 14 '12 at 11:46
  • That sounds very cool. Good luck. – NoChance Mar 14 '12 at 13:45
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If you are going for an Enterprise market, taking an approach similar to IBMs might be useful.

See Business process standards, Part 1: An introduction which includes a short section on the relationship between the standards and Business process standards, Part 2: How the standards are used in WebSphere products which describes specifically how IBM incorporates them into their own products.

There is also Modeling Standards Supported by ARIS which includes the standards they support and pointing out that each standard is focused for

different stakeholders.

I believe that the full answer to your question depends on who you want to pitch your software to. A BA likely to model the process at a higher level than an Architect, who will likely want to specify some implementation and possibly shares some interest in code generation with the developer, who probably cares mainly about the execution.

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The question is quite old but is still relevant. So here a fresh and up-to-date answer.

Among the different business process modeling methods listed above:

  • BPMN 2.0 standard established itself as dominant. It allows the modeling of even complex workflows involving different organization entities including message passing and all kind of event handling. The diagrams are also well accepted and understood by business people (except for the many pictograms that refine the subtle meaning of messages and events)
  • EPC was developed by Dr.Scheer, the father of ARIS software. It is a formal process modeling method, based on the principle that each process is triggered by events and generate itself other events, thus forming chains of events and processes. I think that its use was mostly pushed by the fact that SAP promoted it for the implementation of its ERP system. EPC models proved to be very difficult for business people to understand. The fact that ARIS now supports BPMN suggest that the use of EPC has significantly decreased and is rather marginal (at least on a worldwide scale).
  • IDEF0 (aka SADT) is not a real process modeling method, but a method for functional analysis. It can be used for basic process modeling thanks to its input/output logic. But it will be quickly too limited for more advanced modeling, due for example to its lack of event management (including timing event) and the difficulty to represent organizational roles/boundaries effectively.

So if today you'd still plan some process management activities, its definitively BPMN standard that you should consider first.

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