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  • Universal Process Notation


    Sucheta S

    Table of Contents


    Universal Process Notation a simple solution for complex process diagrams

    TIBCO Nimbus? is a business application for process documentation that presents an easy-to-understand visualization of how people, processes, and systems should interact. Nimbus uses Universal Process Notation (UPN), a simplified approach to describing process flows using visual diagrams. UPN alleviates complexities that can lead to gaps in communication and threaten collaboration between business users and IT staff, a situation that can then compromise the effectiveness and completeness of requirements. This paper explains some of the features and benefits of UPN and how it solves problems associated with complex process diagrams. 

    Benefits of UPN

    • ?Easy for business users to understand with little or no prior knowledge of the notation and without referring to a list of predefined symbols.
    • ?Focus on outcomes rather than inputs and outputs of minor steps.
    • ?Easy to identify inefficiencies and potential issues.
    • ?Focus on process flows rather than actors.

    Not Shapes, Text UPN 

    A simplified system of symbols and rules, shifts the emphasis from a multitude of different shapes that must be memorized by all audiences to easyto-understand text descriptions of each object. The result is that the typical business user can easily follow process flows and notations with little or no reference to standards. When applied correctly, UPN allows business users to document and describe processes quickly and clearly in collaboration with each other. Without the need to understand and remember complex notations, they can clearly visualize process flows and immediately identify inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and other process issues.

    Interactive content delivery

    The notation also relies on supporting technology to assist with content delivery. For instance, instead of describing various documents and supporting tools (such as non-automated systems that still require human interaction to complete tasks), documents and tools are attached directly to the step at which they are required. To support this interactive approach, a suitable business process content management system (BPCMS) is employed to create, manage, and deliver the content.

    Focus on business goals

    Using UPN, emphasis shifts from having to provide a description of every single input and output for every activity, no matter how detailed or high level, to documenting business goals. After all, activities and process steps are merely enablers to help business users identify and focus on their objectives. By focusing on outcomes, it becomes easier for owners and consumers to recognize the need to evaluate and improve activities that enable and produce them.

    Cross Functional

    UPN is a truly integrated cross-functional approach to process definition. Resources responsible and accountable for activities, and therefore outcomes, are displayed against the activity. This is the reverse of the often used swim lane approach, where activities are displayed in the context of the resource. With UPN, rather than the focus being on the actors involved in execution, it is on how the output is delivered to the customer, and how that is achieved.

    Simple Components

    UPN uses simple physical attributes designed to make access to content as easy as possible for the majority of process consumers. The main purpose of these components is to facilitate applying rules. A good understanding of both is required for an author of process content.


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