Business process modelling is a technique for representing existing or future processes within an organisation, particularly with a view to documenting and improving them. Many business processes manipulate sophisticated data sources to generate a data set that will be subject to subsequent data analytics tasks, and their study falls within the general field of data management. User-friendly editors are available which allow business users to define business processes as a structured collection of tasks towards a specific goal. What they do not provide, however, is the ability to verify and optimise those processes or the data that they produce.
Our approach is to apply the theory of automated planning, which is a branch of artificial intelligence. In a planning problem, we are given a set of possible initial states, the desired goal, and a set of possible actions. Each action has a precondition and achieves a certain effect. The planning problem consists of finding a sequence of actions that leads to the desired goal from an initial state. By formulating a business process model as a planning problem, we can answer questions such as:
- Is the business process guaranteed to deliver the required outcome?
- Are there other ways of arriving at the same outcome?
- Does the business process contain redundant steps?
Business process models are ubiquitous in the enterprise, in government, in the health and education sectors, etc. All sectors can benefit from a more formal approach to process modelling.
- Barry O’Sullivan
- Derek Bridge
- Ken Brown
- Liam O’Toole
- Alexandre Papadopoulos
- Paul Davern
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