Linking Natural Modeling to Techno-centric Modeling for the Active Involvement of Process Participants in Business Process Design

Linking Natural Modeling to Techno-centric Modeling for the Active Involvement of Process Participants in Business Process Design

Stefan Oppl (Johannes Kepler University of Linz, Linz, Austria) and Nancy Alexopoulou (Johannes Kepler University of Linz, Linz, Austria)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 30
DOI: 10.4018/IJISMD.2016040101


Actively involving participants in business process modeling enables integration between elicitation and modeling steps of the BPM lifecycle. Such integration may lead to a more efficient design procedure and ultimately to a more accurate representation of the business process. However, active involvement of process participants creates several challenges, as the latter are not expected to have modeling skills. The purpose of this paper is to present a business process design approach, called CoMPArE /WP, which tightly integrates the elicitation and modeling stages of process design, through the active involvement of process participants. To achieve effective involvement of process participants, CoMPArE/WP adopts the principles of natural modeling. However, being a business process design approach aiming at supporting the whole BPM lifecycle, CoMPArE /WP deals also with the transition of natural modeling to formal process representations that can be enacted using a BPMS.
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During the last decades, there is a rapidly growing interest on Business Process Management (BPM), revealed by the plethora of relative emerging technologies. Such technologies include business process modeling languages offering the means to design technically interpretable business process models like BPMN (OMG, 2008), EPCs (Mendling 2008) and S-BPM (Fleischmann and Stary, 2012), tools for business process analysis like Signavio (

The central concept behind all these technologies is the business process model, which is designed, analyzed, implemented, enacted, monitored and evaluated continuously in the course of the business process management lifecycle (Weske, 2007). However, in contrast to the wide variety and rapid evolution of such technologies that support the management of a business process model throughout its lifecycle, less progress has been made on how to design a business process model in terms of a well-defined methodology (Nurcan & Schmidt, 2012) and even less on how to elicit the model from the real world cases (Mauser et al., 2009).

According to Weske (2007), elicitation and modeling together correspond to the design stage of the BPM lifecycle. The reason they are not depicted as separate phases is that they are not conducted in a sequential manner. Rather, they are performed interchangeably until a process model is reached that sufficiently reflects the real-world process. Typically, a process analyst, i.e. a person qualified to drive the design and analysis procedures, with competence on one or more process modeling languages, interviews a representative group of workers, in order to extract information on how the work is done for a specific business process. Subsequently, the process analyst uses this information to build an initial process model. Afterwards, the analyst proceeds with its calibration, which involves iterations of comparisons between the model and the actual process through further interviews with the involved participants, and exploitation of the discrepancies between the two, to improve the model. This procedure is repeated until model accuracy is judged to be acceptable. The construction of the model is typically based on hierarchical top-down modeling like the approach presented in (Silver, 2009). This approach starts with an abstract model following the strategies and policies set by top management. The abstract model is gradually refined into a more fine-grained representation of work based again on information acquired from managers. However, during the decomposition procedure, process participants may also come into play.

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