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  • By Geoff Hook
  • In Blog
  • Posted 13/02/2017

Process simulation is now well accepted as an integral part of BPM suites, delivering proof-of-concept before processes are adopted or changed.

Simulation has traditionally been a standalone exercise, as models, data and experimentation are designed with a specific goal in mind. Simulation modellers use their inventive abilities to create abstractions which efficiently represent a system with that specific objective in mind.

BPMN on the other hand is a modelling standard which provides organisations with the capability to define, understand and execute their processes through diagrams. It also looks to bridge the communication gap between Business, Engineering etc. and IT by removing the dangers and risks of misunderstanding.

BPMN and the use of common standards to assist with modelling

BPMN elements have a strict definition as documented in the specification of the  Object Management Group standard and elaborated in many books, of which the definitive text is probably BPMN Method and Style by Bruce Silver. Each element has a strict definition governing how it can be used, its behaviour when executed, and how it may be linked with other elements.

This international standard makes it possible to develop a simulation engine capable of processing each element and defined behaviour in a compliant BPMN model. The modeller can then focus on deciding which elements to use to represent their process effectively, without having to reinvent every element for each simulation.

Closer integration between modelling and simulation with BPSim

More recently a working party steered by Trisotech and Lanner developed an  additional WfMC standard called BPSim to define how simulation data can be added to the BPMN representation. BPSim is based on industry experience in BPMN, process analysis and simulation, providing a structured framework for parameterising a BPMN model for structural and capacity analysis.912-cloudapps1.jpg

Figure 1 - providing initial validation and insight into BPMN process using Business Process Simulator from Lanner

A BPMN based simulation engine that uses BPSim can be easily integrated into an existing BPM system. Software vendors can add value through how the capability is presented and tailored to their users, without having to develop low level BPMN simulation capability. The BPSim standard is moving forward, with version 2.0 expected to be published in early 2017.

BPSim simplifies simulations

BPMN and BPSim provide a strong basis for applying simulation to your Business Process Management. For businesses already using BPMN models, the BPSim standard provides a structured framework for applying parameters to process elements so that they can “come alive” in the virtual world of process simulation. This allows process analysts to efficiently perform simulations using tools which follow the BPMN and BPSim standards – without needing in-depth simulation experience.

Properly executed simulations deliver valuable insights when applied to process analysis. The danger is that the existing BPMN model is not the ‘best’ in terms of scope and level of detail to provide the specific answers your business needs. This is when simulation in business process can be labelled as difficult, time consuming and not worth the effort. This conclusion is alarming and illogical given the wealth of successful case studies from the wider application of simulation.

Fortunately BPSim promises to improve simulation creation and deliver the additional granularity you need to continuously improve business processes.

Applying BPMN &BPSim to Process Analysis, Denis Gagne

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