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BowTieXP feature overview

What is BowTieXP?

BowTieXP is the most used risk assessment software that is based on the bowtie method. It enables you to easily create bowtie diagrams to assess risk. BowTieXP is unique in its ability to visualise complex risks in a way that is understandable, yet also allows for detailed risk-based improvement plans.

A bowtie diagram visualises the risk you are dealing with in one understandable picture. The diagram is shaped like a bowtie, creating a clear differentiation between the proactive and reactive side of risk management. In BowTieXP, the bowtie diagram provides you with an overview of multiple plausible incident scenarios and shows what barriers you have in place to control these scenarios. BowTieXP software is developed with the end-user in mind, making it one of the most user-friendly risk assessment tools. It is easy to create a diagram in BowTieXP, but the software also enables you to maintain the diagram so it will always represent the current status of your safety barriers.

Structure knowledge

The bowtie method structures major hazards of your organisation and gives you a clear overview of how your hazards are controlled. The barriers in the bowtie diagram show what controls you have in place to prevent, mitigate or eliminate major consequences from happening. Making people responsible for barriers makes transparent what everybody is supposed to do to operate safely. When operational staff is involved in the development of a bowtie, accurate daily operation information is included and this way staff will take ownership of the bowties.

BowTieXP provides the possibility to visualise your Safety Management System (SMS) on the diagram. Each activity can be traced back to the barrier it is supporting. The SMS exists primarily in identifying safety critical activities, undertaken to assure the on-going integrity of risk barriers. Displaying all data on the bowtie enables everyone to see the complete risk context, together with the activities they are responsible for.

Visualising Safety Management System (SMS) on a bowtie diagram.

Analyse and assess

Once you have built a bowtie diagram, you can analyse and assess the safety barriers that you’ve implemented. Various categories can be linked to these barriers to identify amongst others the effectiveness, type or accountability of each barrier. Analyse the barrier effectiveness to get instant visual insight into the strength of your barriers. In BowTieXP barrier effectiveness is often shown with a traffic light color code, but this is customizable to your needs.

Analysing barrier types will help you to increase the robustness of the organisation and decrease the likelihood of common mode failure.

Accountability can be linked to barriers via customizable job titles. This helps to get insight into which people are responsible for the performance of safety barriers. It makes transparent what everybody is supposed to do to operate safely and increases ownership of barrier performance.

In BowTieXP you can easily generate risk matrices to assess if you’ve adequately controlled all your risks in a visual way. The risk matrices can easily be customised to company standards. Inherent and residual risk assessments allow demonstration of improvement in risk levels.

Easy to read & communicate

Bowtie diagrams ensure easy risk communication by making the risk visual and understandable on the right abstraction level. To distribute the bowtie diagrams, organisations are using posters, pocketbooks and leaflets for example to highlight key risk control issues. Web-based bowtie diagrams are also increasingly a part of online training and information systems. This makes sure that risk communication is fully integrated into the organisation.

A bowtie diagram that only shows the information relevant for the HSE manager.

Besides being easy to understand, bowties also provide an overview and insight in risk analysis and assessment. This is due to the fact that bowtie diagrams reduce complexity to a manageable size without losing context and focus on the critical elements.  The bowtie diagram can be communicated to every department within your organisation, using several filter options in the software. Filters allow you to decide which information you want to display on your diagram, without deleting any information. For example, you can filter the diagram on a specific job title to show the relevant information for this particular accountable person.

Bowtie diagrams can also be used to demonstrate that risks are being controlled. This provides management with the assurance that risks are being managed properly. This was the primary driver for the implementation of the approach within Shell in the mid-1990’s. Because of the visual power of the bowtie diagram, many regulators in various industries recommend bowtie diagrams to be used in safety studies or safety cases.

User-friendly diagrams

Building a diagram in BowTieXP is easy and user-friendly. When hovering over elements, plus buttons will appear which allows you to add new bowtie elements. These plus buttons make the software more intuitive and much faster to use. It is possible to adjust your bowtie any time and information can be added to the diagram easily because of the ‘dragging and dropping’ functionality.

One example of a user-friendly functionality in BowTieXP is ‘group editing’. This feature allows you to select multiple elements in your diagrams for bulk editing. For example, if you want to set criticality, or edit the text on 15 barriers at once.

Filters & display profiles

The filters in BowTieXP can be used to communicate the bowties to your employees or management. With the selective visibility filter, you can choose which information should be hidden by simply selecting the elements you don’t want to show. The advanced filter allows you to filter on basically every element you added to the diagram.

You can also choose to select only one characteristic to become visible on your bowtie diagram, such as job titles and effectiveness values. In BowTieXP Standard this is done by adjusting the display settings, where types of information can be toggled on or off. In BowTieXP Advanced, these settings can be stored as customised display profiles. That way you can store your favorite display settings and access those from the drop-down menu (see figure). It provides a quick overview of all the data you find relevant.

Display barrier information depending on the display profile in BowTieXP Advanced. In this example, the same threat line is displayed while different profiles are selected.

Linking management systems

BowTieXP allows you to link your management systems to your bowtie diagram by creating activities and document links. Activities describe all tasks that need to be carried out to ensure the integrity of barriers. Activities are used to describe regular recurring tasks like maintenance and training which are part of your safety management system. These activities and document links can easily be added to the bowtie diagram using the ‘drag and drop’ functionality.

Actions & recommendations

BowTieXP promotes relevant organisational improvements to keep your bowtie up-to-date. Bowtie diagrams can highlight areas where organisational control is weak, enabling resources to be targeted at those areas where most benefit is likely to be gained. A list of recommendations and one-time actions can be obtained from BowTieXP. Subsequently, this list can be and communicated to the accountable person in order to improve your bowtie and risk management.

Custom terms & taxonomies

While for some industries it’s common to use the term barrier, others use the term ‘safety control’. Any label in the software can be changed to meet your own terminology requirements.

BowTieXP provides a standard taxonomy in the software, but some organisations require rather industry-specific taxonomies. In the lookup tables, you can change your barrier types, barrier effectiveness, and so on, to whatever suits your organisation needs.


BowTieXP Standard contains numerous reports to choose from. The reports will run in Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel. In BowTieXP Advanced it is possible to run reports based on your own customised templates. For example, a template can be made for a standardised quarterly report on all barriers or your audit results. Using Microsoft Word, links can be added into a regular Word document where BowTieXP Advanced will insert the requested data. This can be done in a tabular form, with pictures or other forms of data. The result can be an automatically generated report including title page, company logos, chapter numbering, table of contents and much more.

Choose your BowTieXP edition


  • Bowtie diagram building tool
  • Automatically create risk matrices
  • Assign custom attributes to bowtie diagrams


  • All BowTieXP Standard features
  • Setting up files for other users
  • Scrapbook import option
  • Import from Excel


  • Standard or Advanced edition
  • Integration with BowTieServer
  • Accessible online

Next level BowTieXP projects

Some of our partners and customers take our BowTieXP software to the next level and initiate projects that improve safety across the enterprise. Below we highlight a couple of them. Learn how they use the BowTieXP software.

BowTie Complete

BowTie Complete is specifically used by small to medium-sized operations that want to benefit from using bowtie but don’t have the time, resources or budget to develop everything from scratch.

It’s a standalone or cloud-based solution that provides a set of pre-populated bowties tailored to specific sectors of the aviation industry including fixed-wing operations and airports.

Significant Seven

The CAA, UK’s specialist aviation regulator is developing BowTie models to cover each of the CAA’s ‘Significant Seven’ safety issues.

Working closely together with the industry, the shared goal is a balanced risk overview for the whole aviation system.

Interested to learn more about this project? Visit the CAA website.

CCPS & Energy Institute concept book

In Q1 of 2018, CCPS and Energy Institute will publish the ‘Bow Ties in Risk Management’ concept book, with DNV GL as one of the co-authors. Until the book is published, the work on the book is called: Project 237. The book reviews the foundation of the bowtie method, provides instructions on how to build the bowtie diagram correctly and how to avoid common errors.

From HAZOP to BowTieXP

Representing hazard scenarios in graphical rather than written format enables participants and stakeholders to better understand the risks and controls associated with the operation of their assets.

Read more about the beneficial approach from Process Safety Integrity, visualising a HAZOP study with help of Bowties. Find a detailed document here: From HAZOP to BowTieXP.

Combine BowTieXP with other CGE software solutions

Don’t stop at risk assessment. Learn from incidents, monitor your safety management system by performing barrier based audits and share risk management information across the enterprise, at all levels. These products make it possible.

BowTieServer unites different risk disciplines in a single, central repository with bowties and related information.  It combines all the powerful tools we offer and unifies them across the organisation.

IncidentXP allows an organisation to maximise learning from incidents: link investigation results to the bowtie risk assessment to detect trends and improve your risk assessment and management.

Audit results become alive and meaningful when audits are linked to your barriers. At one glance you will know which safety barriers are performing as they should and which can be improved.

View all CGE products

CGE partners in your region

We recognize how important it is for end-users of our software to have access to local, high-quality consultancy services and BowTieXP training. To this end, we engage with an extensive global partner network. Below you will find our Value Added Resellers with their offices based in the United Kingdom.

Learn how the software can work for you

Ask one of our product managers to give you a free online demonstration of how the software fits your needs.