Sound Integration of Process and Decision Models
Business process management is an established technique for business organizations to manage and support their processes. Those processes are typically represented by graphical models designed with modeling languages, such as the Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN).
Since process models do not only serve the purpose of documentation but are also a basis for implementation and automation of the processes, they have to satisfy certain correctness requirements. In this regard, the notion of soundness of workflow nets was developed, that can be applied to BPMN process models in order to verify their correctness. Because the original soundness criteria are very restrictive regarding the behavior of the model, different variants of the soundness notion have been developed for situations in which certain violations are not even harmful.
All of those notions do only consider the control-flow structure of a process model, however. This poses a problem, taking into account the fact that with the recent release and the ongoing development of the Decision Model and Notation (DMN) standard, an increasing number of process models are complemented by respective decision models. DMN is a dedicated modeling language for decision logic and separates the concerns of process and decision logic into two different models, process and decision models respectively.
Hence, this thesis is concerned with the developmept of decision-aware soundness notions, i.e., notions of soundness that build upon the original soundness ideas for process models, but additionally take into account complementary decision models. Similar to the various. notions of workflow net soundness, this thesis investigates different notions of decision soundness that can be applied depending on the desired degree of restrictiveness. Since decision tables are a standardized means of DMN to represent decision logic, this thesis also puts special focus on decision tables, discussing how they can be translated into an unambiguous format and how their possible output values can be efficiently determined.
Moreover, a prototypical implementation is described that supports checking a basic version of decision soundness. The decision soundness notions were also empirically evaluated on models from participants of an online course on process and decision modeling as well as from a process management project of a large insurance company. The evaluation demonstrates that violations of decision soundness indeed occur and can be detected with our approach.