Formal Support for Adaptive Workflow Systems in a Distributed Environment
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To achieve more widespread application, Workflow Management Systems (WfMS) need to be developed to operate in dynamic environments where they are expected to ensure that users are supported in performing flexible and creative tasks while maintaining organisational norms [Alonso et al, 1997; Sheth & Kochut, 1997]. In order to cope with these demands, the systems must provide knowledge about the business process itself and the organisational context in that these processes operate [Jarvis et al, 1999]. It, however, is not an easy task to provide the appropriate and sufficient knowledge at the right level of abstraction that supports a workflow system at all stages of operation in a dynamic environment and for different types of users.At the same time, Enterprise Modelling (EM) methods are well recognised for their value in describing complex domains in an organised but usually informal structure. In particular, business process modelling techniques provide rich conceptualisations that tend to describe the type of information required by the adaptive workflow systems. However, because of their lack of formal structure the use of Enterprise Models that have been developed is limited [Junginger, 2000][Chen-Burger, 2001a].We propose the use of a formal language within a three-layered framework. This language helps to turn the information contained in an informal Enterprise Model into the kind of formal model required by an adaptive Workflow System. In its current state of development, FBPML (Fundamental Business Process Modelling Language) covers business processes, organisational structure, agents and their capabilities as well as execution logic that gives direct instructions to a workflow engine.We assist modelling efforts of Enterprise Modellers by giving them a visual modelling language, underpinned by a formal representation, that is expressive and easy to use and that lets them specify the information required by a workflow engine. In this paper, we present our formal enterprise modelling language, FBPML. We show how adaptive workflow systems, like those developed at AIAI (e.g. the Task Based Process Manager [Stader et al, 2000], AKT Workflow [Chen-Burger, 2002a] and I-X system [Tate, 2002]), can take advantage of Enterprise Models represented in FBPML to provide effective support to users in real business environments.