Common BPMN Modeling Mistakes and Best-Practices: Basic Events (2023) (2023)

What are Events?

An ‘event’ is a common BPMN process modeling element that represents something that “happens” during the course of a process. Examples of process events can include ‘a telephone call’, ‘every 10 minutes’, ‘send message’, ‘service completed’, ‘an error/ error event occurred’, etc.

In a BPMN diagram, a BPMN event is graphically represented with a circle (Figure 1):

Many different types of events can appear in a business process, and BPMN is capable of supporting most of them. In total, BPMN 2.0 supports more than 60 different types of events (Figure 2). There are also a number of applicable BPMN event subprocesses contained at process level.

As you can see from our sample BPMN diagram example in Figure 2, BPMN events are organized according to several criteria:

  1. An event can appear at the beginning of a process, within a process (intermediate), or at the end of a process
  2. An event can ‘catch a trigger’, which means that it reacts to something, or it can ‘throw a result’
  3. An event can be generic or one of several predefined types, including ‘time-based’, ‘message-based’, ‘rule-based’, ‘signal-based’, ‘exception-based’, etc.
  4. A BPMN event can be positioned within a sequence flow or attached at the boundary of an activity
  5. An event may or may not interrupt the current process execution
  6. Some types of events can start a parallel, event-based sub-process

Most event-type properties are quickly made evident by the way they are represented graphically. Figure 3, for example, describes a “non-interrupting intermediate catching message event” in the following ways:

(Video) BPMN Advanced Modeling - Events

However, even with a graphical representation, the meaning of an event can differ based on the context of its usage. As shown in the next figure, the same BPMN event (in this case an intermediate time event, ‘10 minutes’) can have different meanings based on how and where it is used:

  • When used in a flow (between task 1 and task 2), the meaning of the event ‘10 minutes’ becomes ‘wait for 10 minutes before continuing to task 2’.
  • When the event is attached to task 1, its meaning becomes: ‘after 10 minutes, task 1 is interrupted and the process flow continues to task 3’.

Descriptive BPMN Events

To make BPMN easier to learn and use, a descriptive set of BPMN elements exist which include only the following BPMN events (Figure 5):

(Video) Advanced BPMN 2 0 Process Modeling

The descriptive set consists of events that start (instantiate) a process and events that represent the final process state. Here is a bit more detail (Figure 6):

Note that colors are not used in the BPMN specification. However, start events are commonly painted green (meaning “go”), while end events are commonly painted red (meaning “stop”). Despite the limited set of descriptive events, there are several common mistakes that process modelers make.

Mistake 1: Implicit or Explicit Process Events

Problem. BPMN specification defines start and end events as optional. However, their usage is highly recommended, since each process starts and ends somewhere!Without explicitly using start and end events, a regular BPMN process might look at the process in Figure 7. This modeling approach is undesirable and could lead to misinterpretations.

Solution. Use start and end events for each process and subprocess. By using this approach, you can make the start and end of a process (or sub-process) more evident. You can take this further by using process names and specializing process events.

Note that if a process includes a start event, using an end event is mandatory.

Mistake 2: Inadequate Event Naming

Problem. Modelers will commonly name start and end events according to their role, e.g., ‘Process start’ or ‘Process end’. Since a start event symbol represents the process start and an end event symbol represents the process end, such naming is redundant.

Solution. Apply logic when naming events. If there is no specific event trigger or result, the naming of a generic event can be omitted.

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Mistake 3: Equal Events

Problem. The BPMN specification allows the use of multiple start or end events at the same process level. But beware! If several events share common BPMN symbols and naming, they actually represent a SINGLE event.

Such a modeling approach can still be useful, since having several equal events might reduce the necessary number of process paths and path intersections, thus making diagrams easier to understand. However, it can also lead to misinterpretations, as presented in the next figure.

The process in Figure 9 includes two start and two end events. However, a detailed analysis of the process semantics shows that the naming of the process’s events is wrong. Since there are actually two different starts of a process and two different end states of the process, the respective events should be named uniquely (as presented in Figure 10), or someone could misinterpret the process model as having only one start event and one end event, which is wrong. A similar situation appears if a modeler does not name multiple start and end events.

Solution. If a process actually starts by different triggers or ends at different states, the names of the corresponding process events should be unique.

Mistake 4: End Event vs. Terminate Event

Problem. Modelers commonly over-use ‘terminate’ end events instead of using simple end events, the reason being that they perceive a ‘terminate’ end event as a stronger finish for a process. This is partially true, but the devil is hidden in the detail!

For example, the interpretation of the process presented on Figure 13 is the following: The process first performs Task 1 and then continues in both directions (parallel split), while Task 3 is performed several times on different data sets (Task 3 uses the multiple-instances marker ‘|||’).

The process is terminated when it reaches the ‘terminate’ end event. A terminate end event means that if one of the paths reaches an end, all other process paths (currently-active activities and activities which are waiting to be performed) are ended immediately. This could correspond to a real-life process situation, but it is very unlikely.

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Most commonly, a process finishes successfully once all started process activities have finished, and a process will be terminated only if an unplanned event occurs (e.g., an exception).

Solution. A process modeler should use multiple end events (e.g., a generic end event), even if a process defines several end states (e.g., a successful and unsuccessful process end). When used this way, an end event will not stop the execution of the remaining process paths or activities.


BPMN is the most ‘event-rich’ process modeling notation in the world, supporting over 60 different event types in total. This diversity can be used for extremely precise process modeling. However, it can also lead to misinterpretations, and unfamiliar process symbols can even scare and confuse novices. Whilst BPMN events are well organized in the specification, they are not quite as simple to learn and apply in practice as some might think.

Whilst the descriptive level of BPMN elements reduces the set down to three start and end events, it does not include any intermediate events. This means that it is not possible to use events to manage descriptive process flows.

Interested in learning about BPMN? Visit Good e-Learning’s free online training library for more BPMN examples, or contact the GEL team today!

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What is the best practice in BPMN modeling? ›

Layout your BPMN Diagrams neatly to ease readability. Diagrams can become unreadable and very confusing when the process logic is not explicit and clear. Avoid crossed lines and keep a consistent direction of flow. The diagram reading will be easier and its communication efficient.

Can you have 2 start events in BPMN? ›

The BPMN specification allows the use of multiple start or end events at the same process level.

What are the three types of BPMN? ›

There are three different types: sequence flows, message flows, and associations. Sequence flow symbol - Connects flow objects in proper sequential order. Message flow symbol - Represents messages from one process participant to another. Association symbol - Shows relationships between artifacts and flow objects.

What are the three types of activities within a process in BPMN? ›

BPMN events

There are three main events within business process modeling: start events, intermediate events, and end events. These three types are also defined as either catching events (which react to a trigger) or throwing events (which the process triggers).

What are the 5 BPMN elements? ›

A BPMN model is unit of logic that contains the following components: Services, activities, gateways. Timer, message, exception events.

What is a weakness of BPMN? ›

Its major drawbacks are related to its complexity, which affects end users (e.g. difficult to learn, wrong interpretation of BPMN diagrams) as well BPMN tool vendors (i.e. partial and non-standardized BPMN implementations).

What is the difference between pool and lane in BPMN? ›

Pools represent companies, departments, or roles. Lanes represent sub-entities within these organizations and appear as swimlanes inside the pool. Many BPMN diagrams contain one or more pools, with all the other objects placed in the lanes of these pools.

Can a process flow have two starts? ›

Do not add more than one start/stop. Flowcharts should only have one start and one end. The flow of processes is generally from top to bottom or left to right, not the other way around. It is important not to make the arrows cross each other, as the flowchart is more confusing with crossing lines.

What is the difference between catching and throwing events in BPMN? ›

Catching events are events with a defined trigger. They are started once the trigger has activated or fired. Throwing events are triggers for catching events and are triggered by the process.

What are the 5 core business processes? ›

Core processes are sometimes also referred to as “primary processes,” and they compose the main activities of the business. These include marketing, sales, production, distribution, and customer service.

Is Visio a BPMN? ›

Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) is a standard way to represent business processes graphically. Visio includes a template that contains the graphical elements described by the BPMN 2.0 specification, following the Analytic conformance class.

What is the difference between BPM and BPMN? ›

After reading this article, we can conclude that BPM is a business process management methodology, while BPMN is a notation, a set of rules and symbols to represent the steps of a process graphically. BPMS, on the other hand, is a software tool (or a toolset) used for processes automation and execution.

What are the four assessment criteria of BPMN process model quality? ›

To increase quality awareness, understanding Bruce Silver's four properties of “good BPMN” models - correctness, clarity, completeness and consistency - serve as a good starting point.

What is the key goal of BPMN? ›

The primary goal of BPMN is to provide a notation that is readily understandable by all business users, from the business analysts that create the initial drafts of the processes, to the technical developers responsible for implementing the technology that will perform those processes, and finally, to the business ...


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