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Purpose ‐ In the last two decades, a proliferation of business process management (BPM) modeling languages, standards and software systems has given rise to much confusion and obstacles to adoption. Since new BPM languages and notation terminologies were not well defined, duplicate features are common. This paper seeks to make sense of the myriad BPM standards, organising them in a classification framework, and to identify key industry trends. Design/methodology/approach ‐ An extensive literature review is conducted and relevant BPM notations, languages and standards are referenced against the proposed BPM Standards Classification Framework, which lists each standard's distinct features, strengths and weaknesses. Findings ‐ The paper is unaware of any classification of BPM languages. An attempt is made to classify BPM languages, standards and notations into four main groups: execution, interchange, graphical, and diagnosis standards. At the present time, there is a lack of established diagnosis standards. It is hoped that such a classification facilitates the meaningful adoption of BPM languages, standards and notations. Practical implications ‐ The paper differentiates BPM standards, thereby resolving common misconceptions; establishes the need for diagnosis standards; identifies the strengths and limitations of current standards; and highlights current knowledge gaps and future trends. Researchers and practitioners may wish to position their work around this review. Originality/value ‐ Currently, to the best of one's knowledge, such an overview and such an analysis of BPM standards have not so far been undertaken.