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BPMN 2 workflow patterns

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by Sebastian Stein in ARIS BPM Blog posted on 2010-07-20

In many areas, patterns are used to codify best practices. A pattern describes a solution for a problem. Originally, patterns were used in architecture to describe architectural design ideas. In software engineering, patterns are used to describe typical software design solutions, for example like client-server architecture.

In business process management, the so called workflow patterns by Prof. van der Aalst and friends exist. In their original description, they described the most important 20 workflow constructs like loops, decisions, and sequence flows. Later, Prof. van der Aalst and other research fellows extended the list of patterns and revised the initial description (see workflow pattern homepage). Still, the original 20 workflow patterns are valid and a useful tool to learn a modelling language such as BPMN.

Attached to this post, you find my ARIS Express model showing how to do the 20 workflow patterns in BPMN 2. Please consider this to be work in progress. From a theoretical point of view, some of the patterns are not supported by BPMN, but if possible, I tried to come up with a work-around. Please comment this post if you think my way of modelling the 20 workflow patterns in BPMN 2 is incorrect or if you know alternative ways of doing it.

Note: See this post for a list of other articles about BPMN 2, e.g. a comparison of EPC vs. BPMN. You might be also interested to join the BPMN discussion group at ARIS Community.

preview of BPMN 2 workflow patterns ()
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Roland Woldt posted on 2010-08-02

This is great Sebastian, I was thinking about doing this too and it is very helpful in training situations/as a reference.

Maybe someone picks up the task of creating the other, newer modeling patterns :-)

Ivo Velitchkov posted on 2010-08-10

That's really nice of you, Sebastian. Know what, your are quite humble but that can't deceive the most observant of us. So, the acknowledgement section of the BPMN specification contains the following paragraph:


Ivo Velitchkov posted on 2010-08-10

A small tech error: WP15 is annotated as sequential loop while modelled as parallel.

Sebastian Stein posted on 2010-08-11

Thanks Ivo for spotting. I uploaded a new version of the ADF.

Yes, I was part of BPMN standardisation, but had only a small input. There are many people with a lot of input like Stephen White, Ivana Trickovic, David Frankel, Dave Ings, Jeff Mischkinsky, Matthias Kloppmann and Hagen Völzer driving the standardisation effort for many years. Those are the people who should get the credits!

Benoit H. Dicaire posted on 2010-09-14

Good work Sebastian!  Can you post a PDF version?

Corne Burger posted on 2011-01-04

Hi Sebastian,

Referring to WP02:

I've been under the impression (please correct me if I'm wrong) that one must always try to use the 'gateways' or 'condition' notation when 2 tasks follow a previous task (e.g. like your first example of WP02). Because the 2nd example  of WP02(marked 'implicit') does not indicate whether B1 should happen before B2 or whether they must happen simultaneously? etc, etc.

What I'm asking is, would one use the implicit example to indicate that B1 & B2 can happen at any point in time, regardless of any circumstance or condition created by the previous task - i.e. is it quite an acceptable form of notation? Apologies if this comes accross as a stupid question. 

Franziska Gietl posted on 2011-03-04


Referring to WP03: In my opinion, the merge and the ad-hoc solution don't express the same thing. The activities in  an ad-hoc can be performed and can be completet, they don't have to!, for the sub-process to be completed. Whereas in the case of the merge a token has to arrive from every path leading into the gateway, meaning all the activities before have to be completed.


Sebastian Stein posted on 2011-03-04

But it is not an ad-hoc subprocess, but just an ordinary one.

Franziska Gietl posted on 2011-03-07

You are right, there is no  tilde marker!

Vinay Agarkhed posted on 2011-10-24

Hi Dr. Sebastian,

These are in deed very useful workflow patterns examples in BPMN, thanks for the share.

Nice to see this post has been mentioned in External links area on Wiki for the topic Workflow Patterns :)

Can we get any real life examples of these patterns in BPMN, can you please provide any resource for these?



Débora Chagas posted on 2013-03-22

Hi Dr. Sebastian,

   It´s a great job! Tanks and congratulations.



Manfred Baumann posted on 2013-12-09

Hi Sebastian, thanks for that work!

Is it possible to download that *.adf file.

I couldn't

Just a zip-file without any *.adf


Thanks Manfred