Hasso-Plattner-Institut
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Dissertation Alexander Lübbe

Business process modeling is the act of making explicit organizational knowl- edge about working procedures. Process models are diagrams that communicate activities, their routing order, documents, and responsibilities in visual graphs.

Process models are created by modeling experts, such as business analysts and consultants. Experts of the domain, e.g. clerks and managers, share their knowledge in interviews and workshops but the process model ultimately embodies the understanding of the modeling expert, the creator of the model. Possible miscommunication between domain and modeling expert results in serious con- sequences because process models often define future strategies and are used as blueprints in software-engineering projects.

This thesis introduces a new modeling technique which puts process modeling into the hands of the domain experts. The technique consists of a tool and method guidance for the tool application in group modeling workshops. The tool is a set of inscribable plastic shapes that is used to create process models on a table. The method guidance is a collection of best practices for modeling experts conducting workshops with domain experts. This research investigates the new technique in exploratory studies, a laboratory experiment, and field research. The first studies explore the act of process modeling with the new tool. The laboratory experiment assesses hypotheses about the effect of the tool within individuals. For the field research, we team up with practitioners to develop the method guidance and compare the technique to existing workshop techniques in real conditions.

Moreover, this thesis contributes principles for modeling with domain experts based on literature research. The laboratory experiment compares the new tech- nique with structured interviews. It shows that people modeling with the new technique are more engaged with the elicitation task and have more fun. Further- more, they build more understanding for the process. And finally, they review and correct the model more often leading to more validated modeling results. The field studies with consultants contribute best practices for modeling workshops with the new tool. We also contribute a discussion to characterize situations that benefit from the new modeling technique. The field studies showed, that the new workshop technique is competitive in productivity and result to established software-supported modeling workshops. This thesis focuses on the design and evaluation of a modeling technique that addresses the limited involvement of domain experts in current process modeling practice for the case of software requirements engineering. The idea was adapted to more fields of application. We conclude with an overview of these fields and a discussion on the broader applicability of the research findings.