Skip to main content


In business process management, activities describe tasks or actions, the sequencing of which results in a process. Activities can be performed manually by humans or automatically by machines. An activity is implemented within a certain processing time and can have other characteristics, such as a responsible person or cost rate.


What types of activities are there?

Activities can be classified into types. According to BPMN 2.0, there are Send, Receive, User, Manual, Business Rule, Service, and Script activity types. In the BPMN, these types are visualized in the upper left corner of an activity.

  • Send
  • Receive
  • User
  • Manual
  • Business Rule
  • Service
  • Script

Send activities involve sending outgoing messages or documents. An example of this is a quotation being sent to a customer.

Receive activities involve the arrival of a message, document, or file. For example, an employee who is responsible for an administrative authority may receive a request to process. An input is expected for this type of activity.

User activities are triggered by an IT system. The system prompts the user to execute an activity, such as entering data.

Manual activities must be executed manually by an agent. Such a task could be the analogous completion of a vacation request.

Business Rule activities require business rules to be taken into account when the task is performed. Such business rules are, for example, tariff rates or service level agreements.

Service activities are executed automatically by an IT system. An example of this is the automated dispatching of an order confirmation.

Script activities are executed by a process engine.


How can activities be carried out?

In addition to being assigned activity types, activities in BPMN 2.0 are more precisely specified by markers. Markers describe how a task is executed.

  • Sub-process
  • Loop
  • Parallel multiple version
  • Sequential multiple version
  • Ad hoc
  • Compensation

If an activity is marked Sub-process, this means that the process step consists of several individual steps in a fixed sequence.

An activity is marked Loop, that activity is executed as long as a specified condition applies or does not apply. Such a condition is, for example, a workload limit. For example, the activity “Start cloud instances” is executed until 75% of the server capacity is occupied.

If an activity is marked Parallel multiple version or Sequential multiple version, the activity is generated multiple times and executed in parallel or sequentially.

If an activity is marked Ad hoc, that means it is a sub-process whose activities are executed several times in any order. Filling out a form is an example of an ad hoc process, since it does not matter which field is filled first. Activities in ad hoc processes can be skipped.

An activity is only marked Compensation if a corresponding compensation event exists in the process. An activity marked compensation is executed to undo previous process steps. This means that the system “jumps” from the compensation activity back to the compensation event.

Process Mining Glossary

Conformance Checking    |     Continuous Improvement    |     Event Log    |    Process Controlling     |     Process Deviation    |    Process Discovery   |    Process Enhancement   |     Process Management Life Cycle    |     Process Transparency    |     Process Variant    |    Target Process

Reach the optimized process with the Process Mining Guide.

Learn how process mining can provide valuable insights into your processes.

Get the Guide