Modelling business processes requires of course knowledge of your business domain, but for untrained business users having to describe processes using BPMN2 is a daunting task at times. Having to go through 500+ pages of the specification (and understanding/learning it) is one thing, but then having to apply it as well requires experience just like with anything else that’s new.
I believe that tooling support is critical for BPM modelling. Probably as critical as the specifications itself. Good modelling tools for BPM (especially ones that are free and open source) are hard to find and I do believe that jBPM Designer is the top open-source modelling tool out there currently. The problem however arises with introducing intuitive design that allows users to focus on their business domain, and not the underlying specification(s). One of the ways to approach this is to introduce multiple layers of “building blocks” or abstractions on top of the core BPMN2 expressive nature and thus decreasing the amount of work that does not pertain to the actual creation of the business process requirements.
We are in the near future going to put a lot of effort in building a number of these building blocks in jBPM Designer. These include custom stencil sets based on the process dictionary or existing processes, data templates, as well as look into alternative ways of creating processes such as checklists, decision-table-like structures, etc.
To get there however we have to take small steps and the first one is the introduction of Workflow Patterns in the BPMN2 stencil set:
You can think of Workflow Patterns as a catalog of lower level building blocks for process execution. They include multiple nodes that are already connected with each other to form a common pattern that can be typically used (and re-used!) in a business process model.
Currently we support 11 workflow patterns and users have the ability to create their own as well.
Let’s take a look at an example on how to use Workflow Patterns in jBPM Designer (click on the images to enlarge. Description are within the images).
Let us know what you think and have fun 🙂