Event-Driven Process Chain (EPC)

Event-Driven Process Chain (EPC) is a business process modeling technique that is used to visually represent and analyze the flow of activities, events, and decisions within an organization. Developed in the early 1990s by August-Wilhelm Scheer at the University of Saarland, Germany, EPC is commonly used for designing, documenting, and improving business processes, particularly in the context of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.

EPC focuses on capturing the relationships between events (triggers or outcomes) and functions (activities or tasks), enabling a clear understanding of the sequence of actions and dependencies within a process. EPC diagrams consist of several key elements:

  1. Events: Events represent the triggers or outcomes of a process. They are depicted as hexagons or circles in an EPC diagram and usually indicate a change in the state of a process or an external influence that affects the process.
  2. Functions: Functions are the activities or tasks performed within a process, represented as rectangles or rounded rectangles in an EPC diagram. Functions are connected to events, showing the sequence of actions that occur in response to a particular event or that result in a specific event.
  3. Connectors: Connectors are used to represent the logical relationships between events and functions. They can be categorized into AND, OR, and XOR (Exclusive OR) connectors, indicating the flow control of the process (e.g., parallel processing, alternative paths, or exclusive choices).
  4. Control flows: Control flows are represented by arrows connecting events, functions, and connectors, indicating the direction and sequence of the process.
  5. Organizational units: These are optional elements that can be included in an EPC diagram to show the roles or departments responsible for specific functions, enhancing the clarity of process responsibilities.
  6. Information objects: Another optional element, information objects can be used to represent the data or resources required or produced by the functions, providing a more comprehensive view of the process.

Benefits of using Event-Driven Process Chain (EPC) include:

  1. Improved process understanding: EPC diagrams enable stakeholders to gain a clear and visual understanding of business processes, facilitating communication and collaboration.
  2. Process optimization: By identifying bottlenecks, redundancies, or inefficiencies in the process flow, EPC can help organizations streamline their processes and improve efficiency.
  3. Compliance and documentation: EPC diagrams serve as effective documentation of business processes, supporting compliance requirements and knowledge management.
  4. System design and implementation: EPC is often used in the context of ERP system design and implementation, providing a structured approach to process modeling that helps ensure a successful system rollout.

While EPC is a powerful and widely-used business process modeling technique, it has some limitations, such as the lack of support for representing complex interactions, subprocesses, or swimlanes. Other modeling techniques, such as Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) or Unified Modeling Language (UML), can complement or substitute EPC depending on the specific needs of the organization or project.

See Also