Business Process Model Abstraction
Business process models are used within a range of organizational initiatives, where every stakeholder has a unique perspective on a process and demands the respective model. As a consequence, multiple process models capturing the very same business process coexist. Keeping such models in sync is a challenge within an ever changing business environment: once a process is changed, all its models have to be updated. Due to a large number of models and their complex relations, model maintenance becomes error-prone and expensive. Against this background, business process model abstraction emerged as an operation reducing the number of stored process models and facilitating model management. Business process model abstraction is an operation preserving essential process properties and leaving out insignificant details in order to retain information relevant for a particular purpose. Process model abstraction has been addressed by several researchers. The focus of their studies has been on particular use cases and model transformations supporting these use cases.
This thesis systematically approaches the problem of business process model abstraction shaping the outcome into a framework. We investigate the current industry demand in abstraction summarizing it in a catalog of business process model abstraction use cases. The thesis focuses on one prominent use case where the user demands a model with coarse-grained activities and overall process ordering constraints. We develop model transformations that support this use case starting with the transformations based on process model structure analysis. Further, abstraction methods considering the semantics of process model elements are investigated. First, we suggest how semantically related activities can be discovered in process models – a barely researched challenge. The thesis validates the designed abstraction methods against sets of industrial process models and discusses the method implementation aspects. Second, we develop a novel model transformation, which combined with the related activity discovery allows flexible non-hierarchical abstraction. In this way this thesis advocates novel model transformations that facilitate business process model management and provides the foundations for innovative tool support.