Business Process Modelling - Languages, Goals, and Variabilities

By Birgit Korherr .
Advised by Gerti Kappel

This work has been finished in January 2008.

Over the last decade more and more companies started to optimize their business processes in a way to meet its business goals. They develop business process models defining which activities have to be executed in which order under which conditions by whom and by using which resources. For this purpose a lot of different approaches to business process modelling have been developed, which resulted in many different Business Process Modelling Languages (BPMLs).

The definition of a business process has to cover many different aspects (e.g. control flow, organizational view, data view, etc.). A perfect business process modelling approach would address all the different aspects. Unfortunately, none of the existing approaches provides concepts for addressing all of these aspects. Each of them concentrates on some aspects. The focus on certain aspects is mainly due to the different applications areas, e.g. business engineering or software engineering etc.

Although BPMLs are well established in industry and science, a comprehensive evaluation or a framework for an evaluation to compare the different BPMLs is still missing. Thus, it is the goal of this thesis to provide an evaluation framework for the comparison of BPMLs and to apply this framework in the evaluation of the currently most popular BPMLs. The resulting framework is based on a generic metamodel that captures all of the concepts appearing in any of the state-of-the-art BPMLs. On a high level this framework addresses the following views: Business Process Context Perspective, Behavioural Perspective, Functional Perspective, Informational Perspective, and Organisational Perspective. An evaluation based on this framework checks whether the certain aspects in each of these perspectives is supported by the concepts of each of the considered BPMLs. In the evaluation of this thesis, we used the following languages: UML 2 Activity Diagram, Business Process Modelling Notation, Event Driven Process Chain, IDEF3, Petri Net, Role Activity Diagram.

According to the evaluation we were able to identify three main problems in current BPMLs. The first problem is that the definition of the dependency between business processes and their supporting software systems is inadequately supported. In our approach we support the elicitation of requirements from business process models for the software systems to be developed by extending current BPMLs with software requirements and components to ensure a business-goal oriented software development.

The second problem concerns the variability of similar, but well-distinguished software products within a software product line. These software products not only differ in its structural definition, but also in the process to create them. Today, variability modelling is a domain specific modelling technique that is limited to the structural definition of similar software products. In our approach we extend the concepts of variability modeling to integrate the dynamical aspects into the UML. The resulting approach is based on a well defined dependency between UML class diagrams and UML activity diagrams.

The third problem is that current conceptual BPMLs do not provide explicit modelling means for process goals and their measures. The modelling of goals and its monitoring is a critical step in business process modeling. Hence, we extend the metamodels of UML 2 AD, EPC and BPMN with business process goals and performance measures. These concepts become explicitly visible in the corresponding models. Furthermore, a mapping of the performance measures onto the Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) enables their monitoring in an execution environment.

 

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