UML vs BPMN: Difference and Comparison

Simply speaking, UML is a visual modelling language which specifies, visualizes, constructs and documents the artefacts in a software system.

To generate codes and test various cases in the business and real-world realm, UML is utilised. It has relevance mainly in areas like web applications and embedded systems.

On the other hand, BPMN is a common modelling notation that is used to fill in the gaps between a business process design and its ideal implementation of it.

Key Takeaways

  1. UML focuses on modeling software systems, while BPMN models business processes.
  2. UML offers a variety of diagrams for different system aspects, but BPMN specializes in process flow diagrams.
  3. UML diagrams are more complex and versatile, whereas BPMN provides simpler and more intuitive notation.


UML is a modeling language used in software engineering. It provides a standard set of graphical notations for modeling different aspects of software systems. BPMN is a graphical notation used for modeling business processes and workflows. It represents business processes in an understandable way.


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UML stands for Unified Modeling Language, which evolved in 1990 as general use, experimental modelling language in which the software engineering intends to provide a basic, structured, and standardized approach to build an effective visualized system design.

It is an object-oriented programming method that represents two views in a systemic model: Static and Dynamic.

On the other hand, BPMN stands for Business Process Model and Notation. It was released in 2004 as Business Process Management Initiative. It was officially released as BPMN in February 2006.

Basically, BPMN is a graphical representation of specified business processes in a business process model.

It is subdivided into three basic types, namely Private business processes, Abstract processes, and Collaboration processes.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonUMLBPMN
Full FormUnified Modeling LanguageBusiness Process Model and Notation
MeaningIt is a general-purpose visual modelling language intended to specify, visualize, construct, and document the artefacts of a software system.It is a graphical representation of business processes in a model with the primary goal of providing a notation that is easily understandable by all business users.
Aimaims at modelling software systems.Aims at modelling business processes.
Approachobject-oriented approachprocess-oriented approach
RepresentationRepresents all the seven views to be released within the notation.It represents two views and is not able to capture all seven defined views.
Applicabilitywide applicability in developing IT systemswide applicability in the IT and business fields.

What is UML?

UML was invented by Grady Booch, Ivar Jacobson, and James Rumbaugh in the year 1995. Precisely, UML is a set of rules made specifically for drawing diagrams.

It enhances creating of professional documentation, which is integral to global project development. It’s the latest version is UML 2.5.1, which came out in December 2017.

UML is divided into two particular categories, which are structural information and behaviour. The structure Diagram represents the static aspect of the system and emphasizes particulars that must be available in the system being modelled.

On the other hand, the behaviour diagram represents dynamic aspects of the system which emphasizes what should actually happen in the system that is being modelled.

They are of primary usage in describing the functionality of software systems.

UML is a generalized modelling language different from other software programming languages like python and c++ because of its characteristics.

It is object-oriented, designed and analyzed hence it is pictorially used to generate powerful modelling elements.

It can also be used to visualize the workflow of a factory through its elaborate work style hence it is recognized as an ISO standard, and many industries use it for developing documentation and model blueprints.


What is BPMN?

BPMN  gives a graphical, statistical, and pictorial representation using shapes, markers, and arrows, allowing easy understanding and easy flow of information.

BPMN was made to cover a variety of range of usages and allow end-to-end business processes. The three end-to-end classifications of BPMN are Private, Abstract, and Collaboration processes.

Private business processes are the internal specific organizations and are the type of process that is generally called workflow.

The sequence flow of the process is restricted within the limited area and cannot cross the boundaries of that area. On the other hand, Abstract processes represent an interaction between private and other processes.

These include activities outside the private pool. Lastly, collaboration represents an interaction or conversation between two or more business entities.

This type of process is modelled individually or separately or within a larger BPMN program to enhance the relationship formed between the collaboration process and its other activities.

BPMN shows four elements for business processes: Flow objects, connecting objects, swimlanes, and artefacts.

Flow objects represent a wide range of events, activities, and gateways, which will connect objects represented in sequence flow, message flow, and association.

Swimlanes, as the name suggests, have a pool and lane, whereas artefacts have data objects, groups, and annotations.


Main Differences Between UML and BPMN

  1. UML is a general-use visual modelling language which intends to be specific, visualized, constructive, and documented in the artefacts of a software system.  On the other hand, BPMN is a graphical representation of business processes in a model with the primary goal of providing a notation that is easily understandable by all business users.
  2. UML aims at modelling software systems. BPMN aims at modeling business processes.
  3. UML has a business-oriented approach, whereas BPMN has a process-oriented approach.
  4. UML represents all the seven views to be released within the notation. Whilst BPMN represents two views and is not able to capture all seven defined views.
  5. UML has wide applicability in developing IT systems. On the other hand, wide applicability in IT and business fields.
Difference Between UML and BPMN
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