Managing Consistency of Business Process Models across Abstraction Levels

TitleManaging Consistency of Business Process Models across Abstraction Levels
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsBranco, M.
Academic DepartmentElectrical and Computer Engineering
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
Date Published2014
UniversityUniversity of Waterloo
CityWaterloo, ON, Canada

Process models support the transition from business requirements to IT implementations. An organization that adopts process modeling often maintain several co-existing models of the same business process. These models target different abstraction levels and stakeholder perspectives. Maintaining consistency among these models has become a major challenge for such an organization. For instance, propagating changes requires identifying tacit correspondences among the models, which may be only in the memories of their original creators or may be lost entirely. Although different tools target specific needs of different roles, we lack appropriate support for checking whether related models maintained by different groups of specialists are still consistent after independent editing. As a result, typical consistency management tasks such as tracing, differencing, comparing, refactoring, merging, conformance checking, change notification, and versioning are frequently done manually, which is time-consuming and error-prone. This thesis presents the Shared Model, a framework designed to improve support for consistency management and impact analysis in process modeling. The framework is designed as a result of a comprehensive industrial study that elicited typical correspondence patterns between Business and IT process models and the meaning of consistency between them. The framework encompasses three major techniques and contributions: 1) matching heuristics to automatically discover complex correspondences patterns among the models, and to maintain traceability among model parts---elements and fragments; 2) a generator of edit operations to compute the difference between process models; 3) a process model synchronizer, capable of consistently propagating changes made to any model to its counterpart. We evaluated the Shared Model experimentally. The evaluation shows that the framework can consistently synchronize Business and IT views related by correspondence patterns, after non-simultaneous independent editing.

Refereed DesignationRefereed