Temporalities for Workflow Management Systems

Temporalities for Workflow Management Systems

Carlo Combi (Universita degli Studi di Verona, Italy) and Giuseppe Pozzi (Politecnico Di Milano, Italy)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-288-6.ch012
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Abstract

Time is a very important dimension of any aspect in human life, affecting also information and information management. As such, time must be dealt with in a suitable way, considering all its facets. The related literature already considered temporal information management from a pure database point of view: temporal aspects (also known as temporalities) of stored information cannot be neglected and the adoption of a suitable database management system (Temporal Database Management System - TDBMS) could be helpful. Recently, research of the temporal data management area started to consider business processes, extending and enriching models, techniques, and architectures to suitably manage temporal aspects. According to this scenario, the authors discuss here some of the main advantages achievable in managing temporal aspects and consider temporalities in process models, in exception definition, in the architecture of a Workflow Management System (WfMS), and in the scheduling of tasks and their assignment to agents.
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Introduction

Processes don’t do work, people do.– John Seely Brown, Former Chief Scientist, Xerox

Inspired by the work of Hammer and others (Hammer and Champy, 1993; Davenport, 1993) on business process reengineering, modern corporations are increasingly adopting process-orientation and Business Process Management (BPM), as the fundamental rationale for structuring and managing their organisations. Integrating people both within and outside of the organisation into the enactment of these business processes is a crucial aspect of BPM. This trend coincides with the service enablement of enterprise systems, an architectural approach commonly referred to as the Service-oriented Architecture (SOA). While techniques for the composition and orchestration of enterprise services have considerably advanced in recent years, the challenge of integrating people into these automated processes has mostly been overlooked.

This applies in particular to service orchestration languages such as the Web Service Business Process Execution Language (Alves et al. 2007). While WS-BPEL promises easy integration of enterprise systems exposed via Web Services, it initially did not accommodate human-performed activities, an issue later remedied by two language extensions, WS-BPEL Extension for People (Agrawal et al. 2007a) and Web Services Human Task (Agrawal et al. 2007b). The purpose of this chapter is to provide a compelling case for people integration. It examines the common requirements and challenges of people integration documented in the literature. Given the priority of service enablement on the agenda of organisations, it proceeds to assess the capability of web service technology to effectively deal with people integration in a manner which is generically applicable.

Furthermore, we will explore the reasons why people integration deserves special consideration during business process design. Process-orientation and the division of labour have led to a high degree of specialisation in the individuals that make up an organisation. It is of paramount importance that in this context, the individual units of work that are part of a business process are routed to the right individual such that they can be executed on a timely and efficient basis. Indeed, many commercial systems have not markedly advanced in their support of the wide range of ways in which humans may wish or be required to interact with a business process. To this end, we will discuss patterns frequently observed in people-centric business processes and the implications of these when modelling human integration. On a general level, these encompass patterns observed in Process-aware Information Systems (PAIS) such as case handling, delegation, escalation and reallocation. Recent research has led to the classification of these requirements into a comprehensive catalogue of resource patterns.

From an industry perspective, WS-BPEL4People and WS-HumanTask constitute the state of the art in regard to people integration in a service-enabled environment. Although the specifications target a particular application domain, namely Web Services, they provide insights into the general, technological challenges of integrating people into automated business processes and provide a basis for an assessment of contemporary systems. We will examine the lessons that have been learnt in this area and explore the recent architectural and technological challenges associated with integrating human resources in automated business process solutions. In this light, the section introduces and discusses concepts underpinning WS-BPEL4People and WS-HumanTask. We conclude by giving an outlook on future challenges for people-centric process management that go beyond the technical integration of human tasks and put forward several recommendations that may help to improve the way humans interact with automated processes in the future.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Temporal Dimension: The temporal aspect, or temporality, of any fact or information. Several temporal dimensions can be defined, such as valid time, describing when the fact or the information is true in the real word, and transaction time, describing when the fact or the information is current in the database management system (DBMS).

Conceptual Modeling: A model which describes a part of the real world at a very high level, without considering any implementation issue.

Workflow Management System (WfMS) Architecture: A description of the several software modules, and their respective interconnections, which set up a complex software systems, e.g. a workflow management system (WfMS).

Temporal Database Management System (TDBMS): A database and its related database management system (DBMS) which can directly manage temporal dimensions of data, without requiring the developer to manage them explicitly. A TDBMS generally makes available some temporal dimensions such as the valid time and the transaction time.

Scheduler: A software module which sorts activities and prepares them for execution according to several criteria, such as the required skill the executor must own, the priority of the activity, the time that activity has already been waiting for to be executed.

Exception: Any abnormal event which may occur during the execution of a process. Exceptions can deviate the main flow of execution defined for a business process: expected exceptions can be managed by suitably defined exception manager units.

Complete Chapter List

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Table of Contents
Preface
Jorge Cardoso, Wil van der Aalst
Chapter 1
Tiziana Margaria, Bernhard Steffen
The one thing approach is designed to overcome the classical communication hurdles between application experts and the various levels of IT experts.... Sample PDF
Business Process Modeling in the jABC: The One-Thing Approach
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Chapter 2
Huy Tran, Ta’id Holmes, Uwe Zdun, Schahram Dustdar
This chapter introduces a view-based, model-driven approach for process-driven, service-oriented architectures. A typical business process consists... Sample PDF
Modeling Process-Driven SOAs: A View-Based Approach
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Chapter 3
Stefan Jablonski
This chapter presents a process modeling approach for holistic process management. The main idea is that domain specific process models are required... Sample PDF
Process Modeling for Holistic Process Management
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Chapter 4
Matthias Kloppmann, Dieter Koenig, Simon Moser
This chapter introduces a set of languages intended to model and run business processes. The Business Process Modeling Notation 1.1 (BPMN) is a... Sample PDF
The Dichotomy of Modeling and Execution: BPMN and WS-BPEL
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Chapter 5
Chun Ouyang, Michael Adams, Arthur H.M. ter Hofstede
Due to the absence of commonly accepted conceptual and formal foundations for workflow management, and more generally Business Process Management... Sample PDF
Yet Another Workflow Language: Concepts, Tool Support, and Application
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Chapter 6
Modelling Constructs  (pages 122-141)
Ekkart Kindler
There are many different notations and formalisms for modelling business processes and workflows. These notations and formalisms have been... Sample PDF
Modelling Constructs
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Chapter 7
Kwanghoon Kim, Clarence A. Ellis
This chapter introduces the basic concepts of information control net (ICN) and its workflow models. In principle, a workflow model is the... Sample PDF
ICN-Based Workflow Model and its Advances
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Chapter 8
Manfred Reichert, Peter Dadam
In dynamic environments it must be possible to quickly implement new business processes, to enable ad-hoc deviations from the defined business... Sample PDF
Enabling Adaptive Process-Aware Information Systems with ADEPT2
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Chapter 9
Macello La Rosa, Marlon Dumas, Arthur H.M. ter Hofstede
A reference process model represents multiple variants of a common business process in an integrated and reusable manner. It is intended to be... Sample PDF
Modeling Business Process Variability for Design-Time Configuration
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Chapter 10
Cesare Pautasso
Model-driven architecture (MDA), design and transformation techniques can be applied with success to the domain of business process modeling (BPM)... Sample PDF
Compiling Business Process Models into Executable Code
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Chapter 11
Cinzia Cappiello, Barbara Pernici
This chapter illustrates the concept of repairable processes and self-healing functionalities and discusses about their design requirements.... Sample PDF
Design of Repairable Processes
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Chapter 12
Web Process Adaptation  (pages 245-253)
Kunal Verma
Adaptation is an important concept for Web processes. The author provides an overview of adaptation with respect to control theory and how it is... Sample PDF
Web Process Adaptation
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Chapter 13
Carlo Combi, Giuseppe Pozzi
Time is a very important dimension of any aspect in human life, affecting also information and information management. As such, time must be dealt... Sample PDF
Temporalities for Workflow Management Systems
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Chapter 14
Karsten Ploesser, Nick Russell
This chapter discusses the challenges associated with integrating work performed by human agents into automated workflows. It briefly recounts the... Sample PDF
The People Integration Challenge
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Chapter 15
Dimka Karastoyanova, Tammo van Lessen, Frank Leymann, Zhilei Ma, Joerg Nitzche, Branimir Wetzstein
Even though process orientation/BPM is a widely accepted paradigm with heavy impact on industry and research the available technology does not... Sample PDF
Semantic Business Process Management: Applying Ontologies in BPM
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Chapter 16
Hernani Mourao, Pedro Antunes
In this chapter the authors propose a solution to handle unexpected exceptions in WfMS. They characterize these events deeply and recognize that... Sample PDF
Using WfMS to Support Unstructured Activities
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Chapter 17
Guillermo Jimenez
In this chapter the authors introduce the role of a business process engineer (BPE) and necessary competencies to define, simulate, analyze, and... Sample PDF
Business Process Engineering
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Chapter 18
Christoph Bussler
This chapter introduces the application of process management to business-to-business (B2B) integration and enterprise application integration... Sample PDF
B2B and EAI with Business Process Management
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Chapter 19
Paul Grefen
This chapter is devoted to automated support for interorganizational business process management, that is, formation and enactment of business... Sample PDF
Systems for Interorganizational Business Process Management
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Chapter 20
Guido Governatori, Shazia Sadiq
It is a typical scenario that many organisations have their business processes specified independently of their business obligations (which includes... Sample PDF
The Journey to Business Process Compliance
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Chapter 21
M. Castellanos, A.K. Alves de Medeiros, J. Mendling, B. Weber, A.J.M.M. Weijters
Business Process Intelligence (BPI) is an emerging area that is getting increasingly popular for enterprises. The need to improve business process... Sample PDF
Business Process Intelligence
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Chapter 22
Diogo R. Ferreira
This chapter introduces the principles of sequence clustering and presents two case studies where the technique is used to discover behavioral... Sample PDF
Applied Sequence Clustering Techniques for Process Mining
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Chapter 23
Kamal Bhattacharya, Richard Hull, Jianwen Su
This chapter describes a design methodology for business processes and workflows that focuses first on “business artifacts”, which represent key... Sample PDF
A Data-Centric Design Methodology for Business Processes
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Chapter 24
Laura Sanchez, Andrea Delgado, Francisco Ruiz, Felix Garcia, Mario Piattini
The underlying premise of process management is that the quality of products and services is largely determined by the quality of the processes used... Sample PDF
Measurement and Maturity of Business Processes
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