How Much Language is Enough? Theoretical and Practical Use of the Business Process Modeling Notation

zur Muehlen, Michael & Recker, Jan C. (2008) How Much Language is Enough? Theoretical and Practical Use of the Business Process Modeling Notation. Advanced Information Systems Engineering (LNCS), 5074, pp. 465-479.

View at publisher


Graphical models of business processes are used for analysis, design, and implementation of these processes and their supporting information systems. The Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) is an increasingly important industry standard for the graphical representation of processes. BPMN offers a wide range of modeling constructs, significantly more than other popular languages. However, it would appear that not all of these constructs are equally important in practice. Business analysts frequently use arbitrary subsets of BPMN. In this paper we investigate what these subsets are, and how they differ between academic, consulting, and general use of the language. We analyzed 120 BPMN diagrams using mathematical and statistical techniques. Our findings indicate that BPMN is used in groups of several, well-defined con-struct clusters, but less than 20% of its vocabulary is regularly used and some constructs did not occur in any of the models we analyzed. While the average model contains just 9 different BPMN constructs, models of this complexity have typically just 4-5 constructs in common, which means that only a small agreed subset of BPMN has emerged. Our findings have implications for the entire ecosystems of analysts and modelers in that they provide guidance on how to reduce language complexity, which should increase the ease and speed of process modeling.

Impact and interest:

154 citations in Scopus
Search Google Scholar™
58 citations in Web of Science®

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

3,738 since deposited on 06 Mar 2008
256 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 12916
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: BPMN, Language Analysis, Process Modeling
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-540-69534-9_35
ISBN: 978-3-540-69533-2
ISSN: 1611-3349
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES (080000) > INFORMATION SYSTEMS (080600) > Conceptual Modelling (080603)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2008 Springer
Copyright Statement: This is the author-version of the work. Conference proceedings published, by Springer Verlag, will be available via SpringerLink.
Deposited On: 06 Mar 2008 00:00
Last Modified: 17 Jul 2014 05:11

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page