ArchiMate is not a process modelling language. It has only limited support for process modelling. That is why I personally prefer to combine BPMN with ArchiMate, but that is not trivial (as explained here and here). In the book there is a proposed way to link these and my configuration for one of the tools supports that synchronisation. But, if you forego the richness and niceties of a real process modelling language, you might do something that is close enough for most organisations, even if it is technically not 100% valid ArchiMate.
My esteemed colleague Jos Knoops has set this up. The problem he ran into with the original synchronisation was that it was impossible (in the tool we use) to create an integrated published architecture. Switching from ArchiMate views to BPMN views was not possible. So, given that his business users have no real use for all the richness and niceties of BPMN (they just want swim lanes, risk/controls, RACI, etc.) he decided that he could serve their needs fully in ArchiMate, thus enabling a simple but good enough way for process documentation and an integrated publication.
To see what kind of information the business users like, it is something like this (the example is The Flower Shop from one of my open letters to TOG about improving the standard):
If we would like to do something like this in ArchiMate, how would that look? Well, to make matters more interesting, let’s include a process where one step is done automated, in other words: by a system.
Suppose we have a data entry process. A clerk enters data in a program, if the data leads to some sort of serious exception, the clerk is signalled, e.g. via the user interface. The process description says he must then inform his Boss. In the meantime, the program calculates some sort of values and sends this result to the Boss who checks the warning.
I have modelled this in ArchiMate as follows (basing myself on Jos’ choices) and in the Mastering ArchiMate colouring scheme:
For those acquainted with processes modelled in swim lanes, this is directly understood. We see a process, in which we see three ‘lanes’, for which I have used (as customary in swim lane modelling, but certainly not by definition) the performers of the activities.
You might think this is not ArchiMate. You would be right, but not by definition for the reason you think.
- If you think the Start and End elements are not ArchiMate, you are mistaken. These are Business Events. I have just given them a different appearance so they look like elements from BPMN. ArchiMate officially does not tell you how the elements should look, even if it comes with a ‘standard notation’.
- If you think the Business Activity elements are not ArchiMate, you are only partly right. They were part of pre-TOG ArchiMate and dropped when TOG published ArchiMate 1.0, but they have been in the standard since, as examples of how you can extend the standard. Slightly problematic examples, but I won’t get into that here and now. See Section 9.2 of the standard.
- If you think the ‘gateways’ are not ArchiMate, you are not right in a combination of both of the previous points, because these are ArchiMate Junctions. I have used the extension of Junctions into an Or-Junction and an And-Junction and given these the look of BPMN’s gateways.
Without replacing the Business Activities with Business Processes, in slightly more ordinary ArchiMate visualisation, this would look like this:
Note that using Junctions is currently a trick to send Triggers and Flows between the different layers (business, application, infrastructure) in ArchiMate, something you normally cannot do. You cannot model a Flow from Business Process to Application Function, but you can model a Flow from Business Process to Junction and then from Junction to Application Function. It’s one of those funny weird spots in ArchiMate. ArchiMate is far from a perfect lingo, but it is practical. Just as we humans tend to be far from perfect but more of the ‘practical’ persuasion. I feel a philosophy reference coming up, but lets not do that this time. People might get bored.
Anyway, as I said, I like BPMN and having it synchronised with ArchiMate in the way I described in the book. But tool support is far from perfect and this is a lot simpler and we stay within a single modelling language.
Which leaves us with the question: “What then, in the first ArchiMate view above, the one that shows the lanes so nicely, is not valid ArchiMate? Agreed, it is a small issue. Let’s turn that into a “What’s wrong with this picture” question. For previous ArchiMate puzzles, see here, here and here.