BPMN Gaining Traction in BPA Tools

BPMN is the de facto standard for process modeling, but many leading modeling tools, particularly those incorporated within high-end business process analysis (BPA) suites, have so far been reluctant to adopt it. Now that appears to be changing.

Recently IDS Scheer announced that ARIS, generally considered the leading standalone BPA suite, would be supporting the full BPMN notation in the v7.0.2 service release this spring. Announcement of BPMN support was tucked into their press release on new simulation capabilities based on Lanner's technology. IDS Scheer will provide their own BPMN serialization using the "ARIS Markup Language" rather than XPDL or BPDM, asserting that customers are not asking for a standards-based serialization. Also, they are currently working on a mapping between EPC (ARIS's standard process modeling notation) and BPMN.

The announcement was surprising to me, since at Process World IDS Scheer's CTO, Dr Wolfram Jost, was generally dismissive of BPMN's richness compared to EPC and the rest of ARIS. Now, however, IDS Scheer appears to warming to BPMN as an emerging standard... not for modeling but for executable process design! The following is their current statement on BPMN:

In general, IDS Scheer will follow the trend that actually takes place with BPMN. On the execution layer, we expect that BPMN will become the accepted standard. It is specifically designed for this use case, including all the constraints necessary to describe a valid and executable process. For typical questions, in the area of BPD/BPA, the current BPMN specification does not provide the necessary broadness. The EPC notation, with its link into many other topics (BSC, risk management, compliance management, data modelling, BI, EA, etc.), is a mature industry standard which will have the rights to exist also in the future. All recent customers and partner projects have shown this very clearly. While BPMN is used on the technical-oriented BPM layer only, EPCs and many other methods are used on business-oriented BPM layers. Our strategy is to establish a bridge between those two layers via our tools and integrated methods.
Also, IBM is expected to make an announcement at their upcoming Impact event in 2 weeks regarding support for BPMN in WebSphere Business Modeler. It is not clear whether this is a wholehearted move to BPMN or just support for it as an alternate secondary notation as IDS Scheer is doing. Either way, it's a significant endorsement that I believe solidifies BPMN's place as the emerging standard for process modeling.

WebSphere Modeler is an interesting case, because it tries to be both a standalone BPA tool and an integrated component of the WebSphere BPM Suite. Even though IBM's own guy, Steve White, was editor of the BPMN 1.0 spec, the company had been betting that UML 2.0 would emerge as the eventual winner in the process modeling notation standards battle. (Funny, I never even knew there was a battle. or that UML was even in the running.) Either IBM is throwing in the towel, or they think that with BPDM, UML has co-opted BPMN anyway at the serialization level. But it really doesn't matter. With support from both BPA and BPMS vendors, it looks like BPMN is at last established as the only significant multivendor standard for the process modeling notation.