Visual Tools for Understanding Business Requirements

The following videos are visual tools used to explain and understand business requirements. This information is produced by UW-Madison’s Business Analysis Online Training and can be found at Scott Converse and Joe Goss cover topics in each tutorial such as process modeling and mapping, flow types, swim lane diagrams, gateways, events and artifacts, data flow diagrams and decomposition diagrams. Before beginning, download a copy of the “Quick Guide to BPMN Symbols” located here.

     Introduction to Process Modeling:

This demo introduces the concept of “Business Process Modeling and Notation”, also called BPMN. The video covers the importance of process models and when to use them, basic BPMN symbols, a facilitation technique used to develop process flow diagrams and how to use BPMN diagrams to address complex business problems.

Why and When to Use Process Modeling:

This video uses an example to discuss when it would be useful to use process modeling in a business setting.

Tasks, Sub-processes, and Flow Types:

BPMN activity objects are discussed in greater depth in this video by explaining shapes used to symbolize tasks, activities and sub-processes as separate components of process model diagrams. Word choice inside symbols and swim lanes, a process flow technique used to differentiate roles of various actors in a diagram, are explained.

Swim Lanes and Pools:

The swim lane concept introduced in the “Tasks, Sub-processes, and Flow Types” tutorial is built upon in this video. Different components and techniques used to create more complex swim lanes such as swim lane construction, organization, pools and lanes are explained.

Deep Dive: Process Modeling and Swim Lane Diagrams:

This tutorial discusses high level process modeling and mapping. The presenter focuses on swim lanes diagrams and why this is an effective tool to use in the business world. Flow, identifying stakeholders and actors, how to spot handoff issues and bottlenecks, and how to create and track important performance metrics are the main components of this video.


Gateways are used to symbolize decision points within the flow of a process model diagram. This video explains what symbols are used to represent gateways in BPMN modeling and what different types of gateways exist.

Events and Artifacts:

Events are symbols used to describe something that happens during the flow of the process, whereas artifacts are additional symbols used to help the reader better understand what the flow is. This video highlights the various symbols used to represent different groups of events and artifacts.

BPMN Lab: A Business Problem:

This video applies BPMN techniques, tools, and symbols learned in the previous tutorials to a business problem lab located here. Please print or download the lab prior to starting the video.

Data Flow Diagrams:

Data flow diagrams are used to help explore, understand and diagram situations with high levels of uncertainty. This tutorial covers the concept and components of data flow diagrams (DFDs), how to create DFDs and when to use them. The presenter also discusses complex DFDs and the technique of layering.

Decomposition Diagrams:

Decomposition diagrams are used to organize information captured during interview sessions and follow up meetings. They are also called “work breakdown structure plans” and can be used to determine the number of hours and people necessary to work on a project. This video discusses the concept of decomposition diagrams, when to use them and how to trace/identify benefits and needs found in this type of chart.

Post the Path:

This tutorial explains the "Post the Path" method used in process modeling. "Post the Path" identifies and orders steps taken to create a process model. During the tutorial, the instructor highlights people, spaces and tools required to complete this method. The instructor also utilizes an example of "Taking money out of an ATM" to explain how the method is applied.