MS Visio as a modeling tool within the BPM Lifecycle


Widely accepted as the leading “diagramming-tool”, Microsoft Visio is the tool of choice for many professional users to document business processes. With the release of Visio 2010 Premium, Visio now supports the Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN), which has recently become very popular amongst business analysts. Therefore the question arises to which extent Visio can be used as an extended modeling tool within the Business Process Management (BPM) Lifecycle. In order to answer this question an evaluation of Microsoft Visio Premium 2010 was conducted. The necessary requirements were derived from each phase of the BPM lifecycle and evaluated in a case study. The result showed that the native functionality of MS Visio finds its usage mainly in the modelling phase of the life cycle. However, addressing requirements throughout the entire process lifecycle can only be accomplished with available Add-Ons such as Global 360 analystView and ITP Commerce Process Modeler. Yet, despite these two software extensions some requirements could not be met satisfactorily. Whereas ITP Commerce Process Modeler adds an additional BPMN 2.0 stencil for which it allows the user to export drawings into BPMN 2.0 XML, Global 360 analyst view builds directly on the Visio BPMN 1.2, but does not support a standardized exchange format. Moreover, both of the evaluated Add-Ons fail to provide valuable features such as a cross-process modelling dictionary and a detailed ability to validate process models against common modelling conventions and methodologies. We therefore investigated to which extend these gaps can be closed using the Visio API and developed and integrated prototype Add-ons, which provide a modelling dictionary, add support for user-defined validation rules and enable a BPMN 2.0 export of native Visio BPMN shapes. These prototypes then enable a complete walk through of the BPMN Lifecycle. The result showed, that extensions as well as a customised implementation enable Microsoft Visio to become a full-fledged modelling tool within the BPM Lifecycle.

N. Nussbaumer, M. Zimmermann
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