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May 18, 2011

OMG rejects “disappointing” BPMN adoption claims

Standards group says BPMN by no means D.O.A

By Jason Stamper

Jon Siegel OMG

Jon Siegel, OMG VP Technology Transfer and Director of Certification

Standards group the Object Management Group (OMG) has told CBR that observers should not be surprised that implementations of its Business Process Modeling Notation version 2.0 standard are, as it concedes, emerging "slowly". But it dismissed the notion that adoption has been disappointing.

The response came to our news last week that one business process management guru, chairman of the Workflow Management Coalition Jon Pyke, believes that take up and adoption of BPMN 2.0 by vendors has thus far been "disappointing".

Pyke has not been the only critic of BPMN 2.0: Pegasystems’ technical director John Everhard told CBR that while the firm is broadly in support of BPMN 2.0 it does have some limitations, indeed he claimed it is "too hard for business".

Business Process Modelling Notation (BPMN) is a graphical representation for specifying business processes in a business process model, maintained by the OMG. It’s meant to provide a simple means of communicating process information to business users, process implementers, customers, and suppliers.

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The beta specification of BPMN 2.0 was approved by OMG’s board in September 2009. It was formally released in January this year. As we noted in an earlier news story, while some vendors claim to offer support for BPMN 2.0 today, major players including IBM and Tibco currently support versions 1.1 and 1.2 respectively.

But the OMG’s Jon Siegel, VP Technology Transfer and Director of Certification, dismissed the assertion that adoption of BPMN 2.0 has been disappointing: "As a major release (and not a point, or maintenance, release), BPMN 2 represents a significant change from its predecessor specification BPMN 1.X. In light of this, you should expect implementations to emerge slowly as they would for a totally new specification, rather than quickly as they would for the minor modifications contained in a maintenance or point upgrade."

He also noted that the Finalization Task Force (FTF) that produced the January 2011 Version 2.0 formal release, "Made considerable changes to the original beta document. You should consider this date, and not the date of the beta version, the start time for work on production-version implementations. However, because companies participating in the FTF were working on implementations and using this experience to raise and resolve issues with the beta specification, they do have somewhat of a head start."

He added that, "The list of companies participating in the BPMN 2 FTF is one of the largest we’ve seen at OMG, and included all of the major ones that you’d expect, along with a number of smaller but technically astute contributors; the participants continuing in the BPMN 2.1 Revision Task Force (RTF) is similarly comprehensive. I won’t name these companies here since OMG doesn’t speak for individual members; you have extensive industry contacts and I’m sure they’ll speak for themselves if given the opportunity."

CBR recently contacted a number of vendors to gauge their backing for BPMN 2.0 – their responses can be found here.

The OMG’s Siegel concluded:

"By way of example, here are some of the features and sections new in BPMN 2: It introduces Choreography, allowing tools to model the Internet-based asynchronous transactions that characterize so much of today’s electronic commerce, and a refined Collaboration/Conversation model. It also refines Data Modeling, and adds a sound metamodel enabling transformation or manipulation of a BPMN model by software, and refines and formalizes execution semantics. Also new are Diagram Interchange, and a set of conformance classes allowing tools to target alternative markets.

In their report to our membership, the BPMN 2.0 FTF expressed pride in both the quality and quantity of the work they accomplished in bringing the specification from beta to formal release. We at OMG are looking forward to the emergence of implementations as our member companies’ product release cycles enable."

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