Are Non-Experts Able to Comprehend Business Process Models – Study Insights Involving Novices and Experts

by   Michael Winter, et al.

The comprehension of business process models is crucial for enterprises. Prior research has shown that children as well as adolescents perceive and interpret graphical representations in a different manner compared to grown-ups. To evaluate this, observations in the context of business process models are presented in this paper obtained from a study on visual literacy in cultural education. We demonstrate that adolescents without expertise in process model comprehension are able to correctly interpret business process models expressed in terms of BPMN 2.0. In a comprehensive study, n = 205 learners (i.e., pupils at the age of 15) needed to answer questions related to process models they were confronted with, reflecting different levels of complexity. In addition, process models were created with varying styles of element labels. Study results indicate that an abstract description (i.e., using only alphabetic letters) of process models is understood more easily compared to concrete or pseudo descriptions. As benchmark, results are compared with the ones of modeling experts (n = 40). Amongst others, study findings suggest using abstract descriptions in order to introduce novices to process modeling notations. With the obtained insights, we highlight that process models can be properly comprehended by novices.


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