BPMN too Complex?

  • August 7, 2011
  • Scott

I’m with Stephen White on this one:

The process above is not an extremely complex or hard to understand BPMN Process, but it is a perfectly valid one. BPMN was fully intended to support such modeling. So what is the problem? Why are there complaints about BPMN?

Look, BPMN has more complexity than it needs to have for many uses, and less complexity than it needs for other uses, but I’m with him on this one.

Is it too complex to use for simpler models? No.

Do these simpler processes require too complex a BPMN model to be understandable? No, they do not.

To me, the focus on complexity is a bit off.  The issue is expressiveness.  I don’t think that BPMN is too complex for the expressiveness it provides.  What makes one tool better than another has a lot to do with its expressiveness.

Stephen has it right when he says “The burden, then, is not on BPMN as a specification, it is on companies that develop process modeling tools or methodologies to help their users effectively create business processes – using the BPMN language.”  (Of course, it would help if the spec writers don’t get too carried away, and actually take a break for a while to see how BPMN2 shakes out before starting on a new version).

He has it right because often these simpler conceptual models evolve into more complex executable models (or just more detailed models), and it is reasonable that the same people who understood the simpler model want to be able to see and grasp how the more complex versions relate to the original simple model.  As we’ve commented before, most business users can get by on just a fraction of the BPMN language.


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