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The Top 5 Reasons to Choose the Free Version of Microsoft Visio

Microsoft Visio is a powerful diagramming and flowcharting tool that helps businesses visualize complex information and processes. While there is a paid version of Visio available, Microsoft also offers a free version with limited features. In this article, we will explore the top five reasons why you should consider choosing the free version of Microsoft Visio.

Cost-effective Solution

One of the most compelling reasons to choose the free version of Microsoft Visio is its cost-effectiveness. The paid version of Visio can be quite expensive for small businesses or individual users who may not require all the advanced features it offers. By opting for the free version, you can still access many essential diagramming capabilities without having to spend any money.

Easy-to-use Interface

The free version of Microsoft Visio maintains the same user-friendly interface as its paid counterpart. This means that even if you are new to diagramming software, you can quickly grasp how to create professional-looking diagrams and flowcharts. The intuitive drag-and-drop functionality allows you to add shapes and connectors effortlessly, making your diagramming experience smooth and hassle-free.

Broad Range of Templates

With the free version of Microsoft Visio, you gain access to a wide variety of pre-built templates that cater to different industries and purposes. Whether you need to create an organizational chart, process flowchart, network diagram, or floor plan, there is likely a template available that suits your needs. These templates serve as an excellent starting point for your diagrams and can save you valuable time during the creation process.

Collaboration and Sharing Capabilities

Collaboration is essential in today’s connected world, and Microsoft recognizes this by including collaboration and sharing capabilities in the free version of Visio. You can easily share your diagrams with colleagues or clients by saving them on cloud storage platforms like OneDrive or SharePoint Online. This allows for real-time collaboration, where multiple users can view and edit the diagrams simultaneously, enhancing teamwork and productivity.

Seamless Integration with Other Microsoft Tools

One of the significant advantages of using Microsoft Visio is its seamless integration with other popular Microsoft tools, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. With the free version of Visio, you can easily import and export diagrams into these applications, enabling you to incorporate your visualizations into reports, presentations, or spreadsheets effortlessly. This integration streamlines your workflow and ensures consistency across your documents.

In conclusion, the free version of Microsoft Visio offers a cost-effective solution for businesses and individuals who require basic diagramming capabilities. Its easy-to-use interface, extensive template library, collaboration features, and integration with other Microsoft tools make it a compelling choice for those looking to create professional diagrams without breaking the bank. Consider giving the free version of Microsoft Visio a try today and unlock its potential to enhance your visual communication efforts.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


business process model visio


What Is Business Analytics?

business process model visio

Business Analytics (BA) is the study of an organization’s data through iterative, statistical and operational methods. In other words, business analytics try to answer the following fundamental questions in an organization: Why is this happening? What happens if the trend continues? What are the predicted outcomes?  How can we optimize for the best result?

The process analyses data and provides insights into a company’s performance and expected results through predictive models. Therefore, it helps the organization to make data-driven decisions and strategic moves. BA can be used to evaluate a specific product, project or process or even the entire company. Business analytics begins with the collection of the company’s data – both present and past data, then followed by statistical analysis or advanced analysis (for example cluster analysis) of the data.

Specific Types of Business Analytics

BA should not be confused with business intelligence. Business intelligence is a process of collecting and examining previous data to get a sense of how the organization performed over time. It can be considered as the first step in BA.

The different types of BA include:

– Descriptive analytics is done on historical data to help understand the business’ present state.

– Predictive analytics. Predictive models are employed to evaluate current data to predict future outcome.

– Prescriptive analytics. Past data is analyzed, and insights gained help to come up with recommendations on how to optimize and handle similar situations in the future.

– Decisive Analytics. Visual analysis models are employed to reflect reasoning.

Benefits of Business Analytics

Business analytics is very essential in the future and growth of any company aspiring to remain profitable. Insights gained from business analytics are beneficial to know where a business stands, to predict future outcomes and to form the basis of making proactive tactical decisions.

Business analytics identifies weaknesses in existing products or processes and highlights essential data that will prepare the organization for future growth and challenges. The information is also used to automate decision making that will deliver real-time responses, continuous improvements and optimization models giving the company a competitive advantage.

Applications of Business Analytics

The main applications of business analytics include: Analytical customer relationship management (CRM), prediction and inventory management.

Predictive analysis is done to customers’ behavior across the customer cycle in all departments and locations of the company. CRM then gives an organization insight on how to retain customers and ways to improve their customer services.

When used for prediction and inventory management, a manufacturing company evaluates the demand for its goods using BA. Insights gained are used to predict GDP figures and thus influence the level of production. A retailer operating different stores will require data from all the stores to form predictive models for inventory management. 

Other Applications

Business analytics is used by insurance companies to analyze past data of assets, and predict its future value to determine the premium to charge. Banks also analyze previous data of a borrower and predict his/her capability to pay before approving a loan.

In Market Basket Analysis companies identify and analyze data from high-volume consumer purchasing patterns to allow them to predict the supply and demand of these goods.

Banking firms and also the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employ predictive models to help them distinguish one transaction from similar ones, therefore, reducing exposure to fraud. The system can identify fraudulent transactions, false insurance claims and tax frauds.

Challenges Encountered in Business Analytics

Business analytics requires acceptance from the top management and a clear business strategy for integrating predictive models. A management structure should be put in place to deal with implementing predictive models.

The company must invest in advanced technological infrastructure that should be good enough to handle the BA process effectively. There should be an ample storage space that can accommodate all the data in the company. This storage should also react extremely fast to deliver the needed data in real-time. The implementation of the system will not be effective if these requirements are not met.


business process model visio

business process model visio

Clearly visualize business processes

Standardize and communicate important business processes to your team using Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN).

Streamline business processes with BPMN diagrams

Standardize your business processes with detailed yet easy-to- understand diagrams for all levels of your organization.

What is Business Process Model and Notation?

Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) is a standard way to represent business processes from beginning to end. It’s designed to remove the ambiguity of process specifications and provide the context needed to complete it. As  process mapping  is often very complex and confusing, BPMN provides a universal solution that uses standard modeling techniques and standardized symbols, allowing process models to be easily shared and read by anyone—whether technical or non-technical BPMN diagrams provide an easy-to-understand visual representation of the steps involved in a process, giving sufficient detail to enable successful implementation. They allow for better communication and collaboration and are particularly helpful when trying to increase efficiency and identify areas for improvement.

The benefits of BPMN

All organizations can benefit from improved business processes supported by BPMN. With business process modeling software, you can create simple or complex diagrams—whatever your process requires. The flowcharts you make can easily be recognized and understood by stakeholders, whether they have a technical background or not.

The primary purpose of BPMN is to help support business process management throughout the organization with a standard that’s understandable for all its users. Some of the benefits of BPMN are:

  • Understanding.  As you create BPMN diagrams that all teams can decipher, intricate and complex workflows become easier to understand. It allows businesses to define their business procedures.
  • Standardization.  Having one solution in place allows information to be quickly shared—and understood by everyone. BPMN works as a standard notation for all levels of your stakeholders.
  • Simplicity.  Diagrams are a visual learning tool, making them easier to understand than narrative text. It’s also an industry standard, so there’s little room for error. 
  • Communication.  BPMN helps bridge the communication gap between various teams, departments, and organizations by designing flowcharts that all department levels can understand.
  • Collaboration.  BPMN brings all relevant stakeholders into the process, making it an effective collaboration tool. Multiple departments can review your flowchart and almost immediately identify the business process, outcomes for your team, and next steps without much detail.
  • Empowerment.  As BPMN promotes effective and efficient communication across all departments, employees are empowered to create flowcharts representing their business processes and other activities. When teammates can quickly interpret your chart, they can make knowledgeable business decisions faster.

How BPMN works

BPMN provides a visual flow that bridges the communication gap between internal and external teams, showing the actions needed from the first to the final step. And as a global standard for process making, it’s been maintained at a single source.

Originally developed by the Business Process Management Initiative (BPMI), BPMN has been maintained by the Object Management Group (OMG) since their merger in 2005. OMG currently houses other worldwide standards, helping to develop enterprise integration standards for various technologies and industries. In version 2.0 of BPMN, the name was changed from Business Process Modeling Notation to Business Process Model and Notation.

As the number one priority of BPMN is to create an easy-to-understand notation for process models while translating their inherent complexities, BPMN tackles this by organizing the graphical aspects into specific categories. By helping readers recognize the symbols within a chart through a small set of notation categories, they’ll be able to identify the essential elements and understand the diagram at hand. BPMN works to capture pertinent data and present it graphically , accurately, and consistently throughout all your teams. Additional information and context can be added to a flowchart without changing the look and feel of the diagram. Each symbol and icon have a specific meaning or note for an action.

Creating a BPMN diagram is simple, especially if you already use diagramming software . You’ll need to understand and deploy the visual language and design elements used throughout all BPMN diagrams to create a visual representation of your process.

BPMN design elements

BPMN is a collection of symbols and rules used on how to connect those symbols to a business process model. The BPMN language used in those models is based on flowcharts and graphical notations divided into the following five elements.

business process model visio

Flowcharts connect elements that help form a process.

  • Events: Depicted as circles, these represent an occurrence. Events are broken into three types: Start signaling the first step of the process, intermediate describing any event that occurs between the first and the last, and end signaling the final stage of your business process.
  • Activities: Visually presented as a rounded corner rectangle, these represent a task performed by a person or system. There are four BPMN activity types: task, sub-process, call, and transaction.
  • Gateways: Diamond-shaped icons signal if an activity needs to go through a different process flow. A few different gateway symbols separate and connect flows, including exclusive, inclusive, parallel, and complex.

business process model visio

Connecting object

Connecting objects symbolize how objects are connected within the flow.

  • Sequence flows: Displaying the order of business activities with a solid line and arrow.
  • Message flows: Messages that “flow” across different departments or organizations, represented by a dashed line with a circle and an arrow.
  • Associations: Dotted lines connecting artifacts or text to an event, activity, or gateway.
  • Data associations: These dotted lines with an arrow represent data with flow objects. Data associations show the inputs and outputs of activities.

business process model visio

Swimlanes are graphical icons representing the process participants and who is accountable for which parts.

  • Pools: These are significant participants, whether within the company or externally, working in the process.
  • Lanes: These objects show the activities and flow for a participant, dictating their responsibilities within the process. Many lanes can make up a single pool, as a pool is determined by which actions must be completed by that group in the process.

business process model visio

An artifact clarifies information added to the diagram while not affecting the flow. Artifacts are associated with a process or connection by an association connection.

  • Text annotation: Copy providing context to a part of the diagram.
  • Groups: The logical grouping of activities without changing the flow of the diagram.

business process model visio

Data objects provide the information needed to produce or execute a business process, represented as a file icon. Data objects are also considered artifacts since they don’t directly affect the message or sequence flow.

  • Data objects: Showing what data is necessary for an activity.
  • Data input: External data input for the entire process.
  • Data output: The results of that data throughout the entire process.
  • Data stores: A place to read or write data, lasting throughout the process.

The latest iteration, BPMN 2.0, builds off the previous versions, providing a more extensive set of icons, symbols, and notations, allowing for more detail when necessary. 

Build network diagrams specific to your audience

More on visio and bpmn diagrams.

business process model visio

Standardize your processes

Work visually and illustrate processes in a way that everyone can understand with Microsoft Visio.

Stay up to date on Visio

Check out the latest news and announcements from Visio on the Microsoft 365 Tech Community Blog.

Create BPMN diagrams in Visio

Learn how to create BPMN diagrams in Visio for the web using the BPMN Shapes stencil.

Build BPMN-compliant processes

Learn how to create BPMN 2.0 compliant processes in the Visio desktop app or start from a template.

Add swimlanes to a flowchart

Learn how to add swimlanes to your flowchart and change their label, size, or position.

Validate your BPMN diagrams

Check Visio diagrams against the BPMN 2.0 standard and view, ignore, or remove any validation issues.

Design workflows with Visio

Bring your processes to life with Visio’s powerful flowchart features and Power Automate.

Learn best practices for BPMN

Read the beginner’s guide to using BPMN in your day-to-day business.

Frequently asked questions

What is bpmn used for.

BPMN is used to document a sequence of events needed to complete a business process in a standard way that’s easy to understand.

What is business process modeling?

Business process modeling is the graphical representation of a company’s business processes or workflows to identify potential improvements.

What is the difference between BPM and BPMN?

The difference between BPM and BPMN is BPM depicts how work is assigned to complete an organizational goal while BPMN illustrates any type of business process.

Is BPMN a programming language?

BPMN is considered a graphic programming language as each icon has a defined use within a standardized process.

How is BPMN different than a flowchart?

A flowchart is a graphical representation without standards, while BPMN is a standards-based approach to graphical representation for business processes.

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Oct 6, 2022

Create BPMN diagrams in Visio for the web

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Hi, Office Insiders! My name is Meet Sanghvi and I’m a Product Manager on the Visio team. I’m excited to share details about new shapes available in Visio for the web that will allow you to quickly create Business Process Model and Notation ( BPMN) diagrams.  

BPMN diagrams 

BPMN is a standard set of diagramming conventions for describing business processes. It provides organizations and their employees with the ability to communicate and understand their internal business processes as easy-to-read flowcharts.   

We’re excited to bring that standard to Visio for the web by introducing BPMN shapes, one of your most requested features. The new BPMN Shapes stencil is available to Visio Plan 2 subscribers only and includes basic BPMN 2.0 shapes for flow objects, artifacts, connecting objects, data, and swimlanes—enabling you and your team to create and collaborate on BPMN-compliant processes.  

How it works 

  • Go to  visio.office.com , and then select New blank drawing . 

Create blank drawing

  • In the Search box, type BPMN , and then select BPMN Shapes .

Shapes pane showing BPMN shapes

  • Select the Preview button to see a preview of the BPMN Shapes stencil.  

Shapes pane with Preview button

  • Select the Add button to add the stencil to your palette.  

Shapes pane with BPMN shapes and Add button showing

  • Once the stencil has been pinned to the Shapes pane, you can easily select and dra g the shape s from the stencil onto the canvas to create your diagram.

Shapes pane with BPMN shapes showing

  • Connect your shapes using one of the three connector types: Sequence Flow , Message Flow , or Association .   To quickly change the connector type between two shapes, right-click the connector and select a different type from the shortcut menu.

Create Functional Flowchart tab

NOTE: You can also add common BPMN symbols  directly to objects by right – clicking the shape and selecting the symbol you want from the shortcut menu.   

Scenarios to try 

  • Visually communicate that a process starts when an email is received by selecting the Start Event symbol, dragging it to the canvas, right-clicking the shape, and then selecting Trigger/Result > Message in the shortcut menu.
  • Customize a shape label by selecting (for example) the Task symbol, dragging it to the canvas, and then double-clicking it to add text.
  • Connect shapes by selecting the Sequence Flow connector and dragging it between the two shapes you want to connect. Learn more about adding connectors between shapes in Visio for the web .
  • Better structure a flowchart by adding a Pool / Lane shape to the canvas to create a swim lane. You can add more lanes by selecting the rotated triangle handles that appear when you select the Pool / Lane shape.

Tips and tricks  

You can add lanes from the Cross Functional Flowchart tab by selecting Swimlane . Note that these lanes will be added at a default size for consistency.   

From the Cross Functional Flowchart  tab, you can also:  

  • Insert separator lines to show different phases of the process.
  • Insert a new page in your Visio file, which replicates the lanes from your existing diagram .
  • Change the orientation of your cross-functional flowchart from horizontal to vertical, and vice versa.
  • Rotate the labels of your lanes from vertical to horizontal, and vice versa.
  • S how or hide the pool titles.


  • Use the most recent versions of the following browsers for the best experience with Visio for the web: Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Apple Safari 10+.
  • The ability to edit files in Visio for the web on mobile devices is only available on devices nine inches or larger.


These new shapes are available to Visio Plan 2 users worldwide, but supported in U.S. English only initially. We plan to roll out this content to all 26 languages supported by Visio for the web in the coming weeks and months.


Please tell us about your experience with the new BPMN shapes by sending feedback via the Visio Feedback portal or submitting feedback directly in the Visio web app by clicking the Give Feedback to Microsoft link in the bottom right corner of the browser window.  

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Business Process Modeling with Visio

BPM-X Designer extends Microsoft Visio® into a professional modeling tool for Enterprise Architecture and Business Process Analysis.

Business Process Modeling with Visio

Streamline your business process modeling landscape

Enterprise architecture (EA) and business process modeling (BPM) are collaborative corporate efforts and involve different types of users and tools. Process owners and business analysts favor Office-based tools for quickly mapping their processes.

The BPM-X Designer is a professional business process modeling tool that provides the accessibility and familiar comfort of Microsoft® Office Visio® aligned with a strong methodical control and modeling safety typically found only in expensive tools. Apart from that, the BPM-X Designer seamlessly integrates with Microsoft® SharePoint® technology and arbitrary BPM suites. It offers an optional model repository and comes at a highly competitive price. This flexible openness makes the BPM-X Designer an attractive choice for many business scenarios.

Strategic advantages

  • Satisfy users and simplify the project lifecycle.
  • Enhance the BPM acceptance by including business users and process owners.
  • Boost business productivity as a result of increased usability for process modelers.
  • High level of conformity with respect to modeling standards (e.g. BPMN™, ARIS® method).
  • Support for Microsoft’s cloud offerings (Windows® Azure™, Office 365™)

Economic profits

  • Optimize the license fee structure and maintenance efforts by enhancing Visio® for efficient method-compliant process modeling and mapping.
  • Lower training and support costs.
  • Optimize the TCO for ARIS®-based BPM landscapes.
  • Attractive pricing even for small budgets.

Use cases we focus with BPM-X Designer

BPM-X Designer easily aligns with your requirements. If you wish to go beyond mere drawing with plain Visio® and have a coherent modeling in mind, you may simply start with BPM-X Designer as a stand-alone tool.

The modeling rule engine will assist you in many ways to comply with your favored modeling language: have real diagram types like EPC, value-added chain diagram, organizational chart, or a BPMN diagram; more than 200 diagram types and swim lanes come out of the box. Do not think about using the wrong shapes in a diagram, the rule engine takes care. It also controls where proper semantic connections between shapes are permitted and where not. Maintain diagram and shape attributes representing real data types (string, integer, Boolean, date, time etc.).

You wish to exchange your BPM-X Designer diagrams with a high-end platform like ARIS® or get your Oracle® BPA models into BPM-X Designer? Or use the Designer as a front-end for a different platform? No problem, you are ready! Process owners and analysts may use Visio® plus the Designer while they are linked to their high-end modeling colleagues on a different platform.

The BPM-X Designer supports multiple GUI languages, permits the use of parallel content languages for your business processes, allows for model validations, has a Modeling and Assignment Assistant and is aware of the distinction between object definitions and occurrence copies of your shapes.

For enterprise use, on-premise integration with Microsoft® SharePoint® or on-demand using Azure™ and Office 365™ is available in combination with a model repository for a highly collaborative multi-user environment.

Business Process Modeling with Visio

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How to Create A BPMN in Visio

1. how to create a bpmn in visio.

Business Process Modeling and Notation has become a convenient way to represent different business-related ideas with the help of graphics. It allows the business analysts to prepare a fruitful business model and find its merit and demerits. Therefore, many company owners and business analysts need to create BPMN diagrams regularly. Creating a BPMN in Visio is challenging and lengthy, and the user must know how to use Visio well. If they want to create a BPMN Visio , they can follow several steps:

Step 1: Find the Template

To start their work on Microsoft Visio, the user needs to find their correct template. For that, they have to go to the New option present in Files. Then they can type BPMN Diagram in the search box. After this, they need to add the shapes and create connections between them.

how to make a BPMN in Visio

Step 2: Add Shapes

To create the complete BPMN model, the user needs to create shapes, then connect them. They can drag bodies from the stencils as per their requirement. After adding the shapes, they need to connect them to establish their BPMN model.

how to make a BPMN in Visio

Step 3: Use the Connectors

The use of connectors in the case of the BPMN model depends on the type. There are mainly three different types of connectors. They are Sequence Flow, Message Flow, and Associations. The user can click on the Autoconnect from the Connectors, and by default, there is a sequence connection. To change the type of connection, they have to right-click on the connector and select the particular type they want to use from the menu.

Step 4: Add data to the shapes

The next step is to add attributes to the objects, and for that, the user has to right-click on the shapes they have put earlier. All the shapes present in the BPMN have some attributes, which specify their appearances with some extra details related to them. The user can right-click on the shape to check or change any attribute they want in the shortcut menu.

Step 5: Validate the Workflow of BPMN

The user also needs to validate the workflow, and for that, they need to go to the Process tab, where there is the Diagram Validation group. They have to click on the Check diagram option to validate the BPMN diagram. If any issues appear under the Issues window, the user has to fix them. They need to keep in mind that validation checks only work for the graphical elements.

how to make a BPMN in Visio

2. How to Make A BPMN Easier

Using Visio to create BPMN diagrams is a lengthy process and may take time. For the users who are not, much skilled in using online tools like Visio, the task can be confusing. The process is complicated, and they may not get a satisfactory result. To avoid such issues, the user must take the help of the EdrawMax Online tool. The tool comes with some professional templates which they can edit to create their own BPMN diagram. For that, the user needs to follow a few simple steps:

Step 1: Select BPMN Template

The user needs to find the [ Flowchart ] option in the EdrawMax online application. then select [ BPMN ] under this classification, as image shows.

How to Make A BPMN in EdrawMax

Step 2: Customize Your BPMN diagram

A page opens with a Plus sign to start with a fresh template. The user can select one from the wide range of professional templates as per their requirement.

How to Make A BPMN in EdrawMax

Step 3: Export and Insert

Once the user has selected their template, they can modify them as per their choice and add the extra details as per their liking.

How to Make A BPMN in EdrawMax

3. BPMN Visio Templates

Sometimes, it is really hard to follow the steps on how to make a BPMN in Visio or on EdrawMax Online and create the perfect diagram. At this time, there are BPMN examples you can edit immediately, or for more references. The BPMN exampels not only help people to understand a BPMN and its classification deeper, but also assist to draw BPMN without efforts.

Visio BPMN Template

This BPMN (Business Process Model and Notation) collaboration diagram sample depicts interactions between customer, travel agent and cab driver, which are defined as a sequence of activities, and represent the message exchange during a cab booking process.

Visio BPMN Template

BPMN Diagram Template

The BPMN is a visual modeling language for business analysis applications and specifying enterprise process workflows. Bookselling is the commercial trading of books which is the retail and distribution end of the publishing process. The attached selling process BPMN diagram shows the process of buying a book from an online store.

BPMN Diagram Template

BPMN Template

The following BPMN diagram shows customer complaints and requests flowchart controls, diagnoses, and provides solutions. In some call complaint BPMN cases, the process of care will have to trigger an escalation to other service levels, so that conflicts and issues are managed.

BPMN Template

4. Online BPMN Maker

The EdrawMax Online is a trusted diagramming tool to many people because of its user-friendly nature. Using tools like Visio for creating a BPMN can be a complicated process. Hence, to avoid that, the user can switch to the EdrawMax Online tool. It comes with more than 2000 professional templates from EdrawMax Template Gallery , and the user can select any as per their choice. It comes with more than 50,000 symbols which they can use to create their perfect BPMN diagram. The user can customize any diagram of their choice by simply modifying those templates.

EdrawMax Online is also an online flowchart maker to support different formats like MS Visio, MS Word, MS Excel, PDF, JPG, SVG, etcetera. The user can save their BPMN in any format of their choice. The user can also collaborate with their other team members.

EdrawMax Online

Why Choose EdrawMax Online

  • Create over 280 diagram types
  • Supports team collaboration
  • Personal cloud & data protection
  • Print, share and download
  • Powerful template community

5. Key Takeaways

A business owner who wants to map the business process can take the help of BPMN diagrams. Creating BPMN Visio can be difficult, and the user needs to have an apt idea about the use of Visio. For experienced users, it can be more confusing. To avoid such issues, they can take the help of the EdrawMax Online tool, which can help them create their own BPMN diagram by editing and modifying the professional templates that the tool offers.

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BPMS Watch: Is Visio Your Next BPMS Design Tool?

So how well does it work? If simply creating valid BPMN diagrams is the objective, it’s an absolute gem. You just drag and drop Pools, Tasks, Subprocesses, and Events from the BPMN Shape palette and connect them with Sequence Flows and Message Flows. Process Modeler knows all BPMN’s internal validation rules, and provides the analyst with a real-time ToDo List noting any problems in the diagram.

The resulting diagrams are typically easier to understand than the native BPEL diagrams created in BPMS designers. For example, multiple processes (BPMN “pools”) can coexist in a single business process diagram, something not found in BPEL designers. Each task or subprocess in the diagram can optionally be annotated with explanations, data and document flows, and other BPMN artifacts. “Collapsed” subprocesses, shown as a single rectangle in the parent diagram, are linked to an exploded view in a child diagram on another page. Process Modeler makes creative use of the BPMN Link event to interconnect portions of a process diagram spread over multiple Visio pages. In the end, Process Modeler can create extensive documentation of the process in Word and Excel.

The real magic, however, is in the BPEL export. Process Modeler currently generates a supplementary file that simplifies import into Oracle BPEL Designer, the design component of what is certainly the most complete BPEL-based BPMS today (and it’s available as a free download from www.oracle.com ). Future versions of Process Modeler (projected for Q3 of this year) will support round-trip communications between Oracle BPEL and Process Modeler for Visio.

BPEL Export from BPMN requires the analyst to “instrument” the diagram. Each BPMN task that will be implemented as a “service” (i.e., BPEL invoke) is instrumented simply by linking it to a WSDL file. Of course, this assumes that the WSDLs have already been generated and made accessible by IT. If they have not, Process Modeler will generate default values for the required BPEL artifacts (partnerLinks, portTypes, messages, variables, etc.). This allows the model to be imported into Oracle BPEL Designer (or another BPMS design environment), where the default values will be changed to real ones.

Transforming BPMN process data to BPEL works slightly less smoothly. Process Modeler translates BPMN properties and message links into BPEL variables and their corresponding message types, but the variable naming scheme is awkward and not well-matched to Oracle. (Actually, this problem is more a result of BPMN’s suggested BPEL name mappings than Process Modeler.) On balance, it may still be easier to work with process variable assignments in Oracle BPEL Designer than in the current version of Process Modeler. It’s still a work in progress, but continually getting better.

All in all, Process Modeler for Visio is a giant step forward. Built for business analysts, not IT, it leverages a familiar drawing environment, creates process diagrams in a standards-compliant notation (complete with events, message flows, and other advanced constructs), generates complete documentation, and can be validated and exported as skeleton BPEL to real BPMS. It’s definitely worth an evaluation.

Bruce Silver

Bruce Silver is an independent industry analyst covering BPMS technology. Reports and white papers on leading BPMS offerings can be found at www.brsilver.com .

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Visio BPMN Guide: Create a BPMN in Visio Step by Step

Edraw content team, do you want to make your bpmn diagram.

A Visio BPMN diagram shows how different symbols map activities, documents, events, and systems. In this elaborated guide to making a BPMN in Visio, we will introduce two software -- Microsoft Visio and EdrawMax.

Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) is a visual modeling language in business analysis applications used to describe process workflows. BPMN is created based on the synthesis of business modeling notations. The original version of BPMN was released in 2004, and the latest version 2.0 was published as an official standard in 2013.

BPMN's intuitive notation helps business stakeholders to understand business processes with ease. This article provides some basic information about BPMN 2.0 in Visio, how to create BPMN in Visio, and how to check errors in Visio. To help users who find it challenging to make innovative diagrams in Visio, this article also provides a user-friendly alternative - EdrawMax , which can help increase your efficiency at work.

Create a BPMN in Visio

1. Basics of BPMN 2.0 in Visio

BPMN 2.0 provides an overall revision based on BPMN 1.2. The older BPMN 1.2 specification only provides verbal descriptions of graphic notations elements and modeling rules, which often causes misunderstanding. BPMN 2.0 provides a formal definition in the form of a metamodel. The metamodel clearly describes the constructs and rules in creating models. In general, BPMN 2.0 features new diagrams, shapes, and techniques.

2. BPMN 2.0 Updates

BPMN 2.0 introduces several new diagrams and shapes. In terms of diagrams, BPMN 2.0 provides the choreography diagram and the conversation diagram.

  • Choreography diagram :

A choreography diagram describes how participants coordinate their interactions. It is different from a standard BPMN in that it focuses on the exchange of information instead of the work performed among participants.

  • Conversation diagram :

A conversation diagram provides an overview of which task cooperated by which partners of a domain. It connects participants that engage in the conversation and can visualize the messages that flow within a group of participants

In terms of symbols, several shapes were added in BPMN 2.0. They are classified into four types of elements: flow objects, connecting objects, swimlanes, and artifacts.

  • Flow objects : The concepts that represent the elements that are connected to form a diagram. Flow objects can be classified into events, activities, and gateways.

Events : What happens during a business process, which includes the start symbol, intermediate symbol, and end symbol.

event symbols

Activities : The activities performed by a person or a system, such as tasks and sub-processes.

Gateways : The points used to represent the branching and merging of processes.

gateway symbols

  • Connecting objects : Connectors that are used to connect elements in the flow.

Sequence flow : A solid line with solid arrows, which is used to specify the order in which activities are executed.

Sequence flow

Message flow : A dotted line with arrows, which is used to describe the flow of messages sent and received between two independent business participants.

 message flow symbols

Association : A dotted line with a line arrow that is used to associate related data and text to an event, activity, or gateway.

association symbols

  • Swimlanes : Rectangular boxes that are used to organize the process in a diagram. There are two types of swimlanes: pool and lane.
  • Artifacts : Related information about the model that describes objects outside the process. There are three types of artifacts: data object, group, and annotation.

3. How to Check BPMN Diagram Errors in Visio

Visio helps you validate a diagram based on the BPMN 2.0 standard. It checks the visual correctness of the diagram according to 76 logical rules. To check diagram errors in Visio, click Check Diagram in the Diagram Validation group of the Process Tab. Errors in the diagram will be listed in the Issues window after validation. When you choose an error, the related shape will be selected. It allows you to find and fix the mistake.

4. How to Create a BPMN Diagram in Visio

Visio is added to the Microsoft 365 suite to help you create, edit, and share diagrams. Visio offers basic templates with elements that are defined by the BPMN 2.0 standard. Here's how you can create a BPMN diagram in Visio .

  • Step 1: Select BPMN

In the upper-left corner of the page, find File and click New . Then, type BPMN Diagram in the search box and select your preferred template.

visio home interface

  • Step 2: Connect shapes

You can drag shapes to the page and connect them in each step in the modeling process.

  • Step 3: Change connectors

If you want to change the type of connectors, right-click the connector and select the type you want from the shortcut menu. BPMN connectors that are added by applying AutoConnect or using the Connector tool are sequence flows by default.

  • Step 4: Set the attribute

You can set the attributes of objects by right-clicking each shape. Attributes affect the shape's appearance and the additional associated data.

visio set attributes interface

  • Step 5: Validate the diagram

After you create a diagram, you can check BPMN diagram errors by clicking Check Diagram to validate the workflow.

5. An Easier Alternative to Create a BPMN Diagram

For some users, creating a BPMN in Visio can be complex and confusing. It can also limit creativity due to the limited templates. EdrawMax is designed to solve such problems. EdrawMax is a great alternative that provides a smooth experience in creating diagrams. You can find a variety of shapes, symbols, and icons used in BPMN diagrams in EdrawMax. You can also freely choose symbols without limits to your creativity. You can create a creative chart in EdrawMax with these simple steps:

Step1 Sign up and log in

In the upper-right corner of EdrawMax, click Sign In to log in to your EdrawMax account. Then, you can create a BPMN diagram with a variety of functions. The very first step that you need to follow is to install EdrawMax in your system. Go to EdrawMax Download and download the BPMN maker software depending upon your operating system. If you need remote collaboration with your office team, head to EdrawMax Online and log in using your registered email address.

Create a BPMN in EdrawMax

Step2 Select BPMN

On the left side of EdrawMax, find Flowchart in the New column and select BPMN to start creating a new diagram.

edrawmax interface to select bpmn

Step3 Add symbols to the diagram

You can drag and drop symbols from the left side of the canvas to the blank drawing canvas with ease. You can also look for symbols and drag them from the My Library to add more shapes.

edrawmax interface to add symbols

Step4 Set symbol styles for the diagram

You can select functions from the customization options in the floating toolbar. You can adjust the symbol's style, font, color, and text, or customize the connectors based on your requirements.

edrawmax interface to set symbols

Step5 Export, publish, or share the diagram

After you create a diagram, click the Home icon to save the diagram. Alternatively, you can click Publish or Share in the upper-right corner to publish your diagram to the community or share it with others.

edrawmax interface to save diagram

Due to the strict details of shapes and conditions defined in BPMN 2.0, you may struggle with ensuring that all parts of your diagram conform to the requirements for shapes. When confronted with difficulties, you can click the Tutorial icon to find detailed solutions to your problems. EdrawMax offers instructions both in texts and videos.

edrawmax home interface to find templates

Basically, it is simple to create a BPMN in EdrawMax . Just grab a template, keep customizing, drag and drop professional BPMN symbols to make your drawings better. If you are still confused about how to draw a BPMN in EdrawMax, just check the video below.

6. Where to Find BPMN Diagram Templates

In Visio, you can find basic shapes in the BPMN Basic Shapes stencil. If you want to use other shapes, you can drag the basic shape into the canvas, then choose the derived shape on the menu by right-clicking the shape. You can also find more templates and diagrams on the Microsoft websites for Visio, containing basic templates, cycle diagrams, and many others. Alternatively, if you are in Visio, you can choose a template from the Office or Templates tab or search for online templates.

However, templates that are provided in Visio are very limited. A variety of templates play an important role in stimulating your ideas and is key to creating an attractive and clear BPMN diagram. EdrawMax is a great alternative to consider when it comes to making creative diagrams. EdrawMax provides an online template store where you can discover and choose from various BPMN templates. EdrawMax offers more than 1500 built-in templates , more than 26,000 symbols, and continuously updated charts. EdrawMax Online is a studio that provides diverse templates with endless innovation. You can freely select a professional template and modify it according to your requirements.

Here's how you can go to EdrawMax Online: Click the Home icon to go back to the homepage and select Templates on the left side. Then, you can find various diagrams and templates for business, marketing, HR & Operation, products, and much more. You can also search for templates in the search bar and explore various templates in the store.

edrawmax home interface to find templates

7. Conclusion

BPMN diagrams play an important role in presenting business processes and visualizing the flow of information. Thus, using the proper tool to create clear diagrams is crucial. Both Visio and EdrawMax are effective tools that you can use to create a BPMN diagram . If you are looking for a user-friendly option, hesitating about how to draw a diagram, where to find numerous templates, and which format to export the file, EdrawMax could be a best choice. The application provides a wide variety of designs, tools, and templates that can help you create detailed and creative diagrams.

bpmn diagram image

BPMN Diagram Complete Guide

Check this complete guide to know everything about the BPMN, like BPMN types, BPMN symbols, and how to make a BPMN.

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Democratizing BPM With Visio and Office 365

Support your BPM initiatives with a powerful social, mobile, and cloud-based proven platform.

Visio 2013 Includes a wide range of BPM templates

Visio 2013 includes a wide range of BPM templates

Microsoft Visio provides easy-to-use, powerful process diagramming, automation, and validation capabilities. In conjunction with close interoperability with Microsoft Office 365, it delivers a strong social and mobile foundation that can help your organization drive successful BPM initiatives.

Jumpstart professional process diagramming

With a familiar and intuitive interface combined with new and updated process templates, shapes, and formatting options, Visio makes it easy for you to create highly professional diagrams.

Quickly create a range of process diagrams using new and updated templates and shapes based on the latest standards , such as Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) 2.0, Unified Modeling Language (UML) 2.4, and Windows Workflow Foundation 4.0, as well as basic templates such as for cross-functional flowcharts and basic workflows.

New UML 2.4 template

New UML 2.4 template

BPMN 2.0 Diagram

BPMN 2.0 Diagram

Create new process diagrams quickly by taking advantage of several productivity enhancements , such as one-click page duplication and one-click shape replacement.

Take advantage of the improved touch support for Visio on Windows 8 tablets , giving you the freedom to work on Visio process diagrams from wherever you are—in the office, at home, or in the field.

Make your process diagrams more professional and sophisticated with hundreds of new and updated themes, effects, shapes, and callouts.

Cross-Functional Flowchart

Cross-Functional Flowchart

Support an inclusive and collaborative BPM strategy

BPM initiatives seldom succeed without support from the employees who will be most affected by them. The most successful organizations proactively follow an inclusive and collaborative BPM strategy from the early design stages. The close interoperability between Visio and Office 365 offers a strong platform to help you build a highly participative and social BPM strategy that includes both internal and external participants.

Finish projects quickly by enabling multiple users to work on a process diagram at the same time.

Make it easy for users to collaborate as they work by being able to initiate voice, video, or instant messaging (IM) conversations with each other using Microsoft Lync right from within Visio.

Take advantage of the social capabilities in Office 365 , which enable participants to follow process documents, discussions, and newsfeeds from a wide range of mobile phones and tablets.

Enable BPM reviewers and stakeholders to easily add comments to process diagrams ; if they don’t have Visio installed on their computer, they can review and add comments to diagrams using Visio Services in their browser.

Manage process diagram documentation, version control, and check ins/check outs using the Visio Process Repository in Microsoft SharePoint Online (part of Office 365).

Strong collaboration with Lync access in Visio

Strong collaboration with Lync access in Visio

Easily design and automate workflows ranging from simple to highly complex

Visio can help your IT and business teams to visually create and deploy a variety of workflows in Office 365 ranging from simple to complex. Visio can also help you ensure that your diagrams comply with necessary industry standards and government regulations—with zero coding.

Use the latest SharePoint workflow template to quickly design SharePoint workflows that support complex scenarios such as loops and custom actions.

Take advantage of the close interoperability between Visio and Microsoft SharePoint Designer to set the parameters for your workflows visually —helping save time and clarify communications between IT and business teams.

Use built-in validation capabilities to check the structural integrity of your SharePoint workflows before you configure and deploy them further; you can also extend the built-in validation capabilities with custom rules to help ensure compliance with industry standards, government regulations, and your own organizational policies.

Use Visio to reverse engineer older SharePoint workflows created in SharePoint Designer for easier visualization.

New SharePoint Workflow template

New SharePoint Workflow template

Monitor and share process performance in real-time

Once your processes are deployed, ideally you will continuously monitor them to identify opportunities to improve performance and any need for redesign. Together, Visio and Visio Services can help you monitor the performance of your processes through a browser—from simple, cross-functional flowcharts or BPMN diagrams all the way to complex SharePoint workflows—by dynamically visualizing related key performance indicators (KPIs).

Connect shapes in your Visio process diagram to data from a variety of sources ranging from Microsoft Excel to SAP.

Use data graphics such as data bars, dials, and color-coded icons and symbols that update whenever the underlying data changes to add rich visual meaning to your process diagram. Publish your data-connected Visio process diagram to SharePoint Online and start sharing key process KPIs with other process participants through their browser.

Assembly process monitoring using data graphics

Assembly process monitoring using data graphics

Take advantage of the web part–to–web part connectivity within SharePoint Online to build a diverse set of applications that interact with your Visio process diagrams dynamically.

The versatility and ease of use provided by Visio, together with the unparalleled productivity and mobility capabilities and strong user base represented by the Microsoft Office platform, deliver a strong foundation for all your BPM needs.

Note: All of the same capabilities are included in Visio Professional 2013 and Visio Pro for Office 365.  

Author: Krishna Mamidipaka is a Sr. Product Manager in the Microsoft Office Division. His primary product focus areas are Visio , SharePoint and Office 365. Krishna also leads the BPM marketing for Microsoft. Prior or joining Microsoft Krishna spent close to a decade at IBM working within their Hardware, Software and Services divisions. Krishna has a Masters’ Degree in Engineering and an MBA. Krishna lives in Seattle area with his wife and two daughters.

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The Top 10 Reasons Business Analysts Should Leverage Process Mining

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