Subprocess Types

Unlike a task, a subprocess represents multiple tasks that work together to perform some important part of a total process. Whenever you see a task shape with a plus at the bottom, that’s a contracted view of a subprocess. There are different types of subprocesses, so we’ll go through the various symbols and what they mean.

Implement what you've learned about subprocesses and BPMN by building presentation-quality diagrams with Lucidchart!

Try it now
Sign up free


sub-process loopThe first sub-process type is a loop. This means that a subprocess repeats itself in sequence. It is treated similarly to a loop task when in a collapsed view.

Multi instance

parallel MI sub-processA multiple instance subprocess is a subprocess that can run in concurrence with other identical subprocesses. It is treated similarly to a multi instance task when in a collapsed view.


parallel MI sub-processA compensation subprocess is typically reserved for a group of tasks that describe some part of the compensation method, whether that's accounts receivable or accounts payable.

Ad hoc

ad hoc sub-process An ad hoc subprocess is a group of tasks that exist for the sole purpose of completing some part of a process. For example, an ad hoc subprocess might deal with one particular vendor who has a unique payment system.

Event Subprocess

event sub-processWe are including events subprocess in this section as well, since it's a specialized type of subprocess. Event subprocesses are used to describe events that happen within the boundary of a subprocess. Event subprocess are triggered by a start event, and they differ from other subprocesses because they are not part of the regular flow. They’re self contained and occur within the context of a subprocess. There are 2 types of event subprocesses: interrupting and non-interrupting. An interrupting event subprocess interrupts the normal business flow, while a non-interrupting subprocess start event does not. For example, if an order on a website is cancelled, the process is interrupted and all website activity is terminated. But if the customer simply checks the shopping cart so see which items are reserved for purchase, the process is non-interrupting.

Start your Lucidchart trial here. No downloads or plugins required.