Moises Almeida Castelo Branco
Managing Consistency of Business Process Models across Abstraction Levels
Process models support the transition from business requirements to IT implementations. Organizations that adopt 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 organizations. For instance, propagating changes requires identifying tacit correspondences among the models, which may be only in the heads of its 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 made manually, which is time-consuming and error-prone. In summary, current tools have limited support for multiple abstraction levels and lack the necessary support for consistency checking and impact analysis among process models that represent the same business intent, whereas maintained by different stakeholders.
This thesis presents the Shared (process) 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, where we elicit typical correspondence patterns between process models targeting different abstraction levels, and the meaning of consistency among them.
The framework encompasses three major techniques (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 diff between process models; 3) A process model synchronizer, capable of consistently propagating changes made to any model to its counterpart.
We evaluate 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.