Towards Object-Aware Process Management Systems: Issues, Challenges, Benefits

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Abstract

Contemporary workflow management systems (WfMS) offer promising perspectives in respect to comprehensive lifecycle support of business processes. However, there still exist numerous business applications with hard-coded process logic. Respective application software is both complex to design and costly to maintain. One major reason for the absence of workflow technology in these applications is the fact that many processes are data-driven; i.e., progress of process instances depends on value changes of data objects. Thus business processes and business data cannot be treated independently from each other, and business process models have to be compliant with the underlying data structure. This paper presents characteristic properties of data-oriented business software, which we gathered in several case studies, and it elaborates to what degree existing WfMS are able to provide the needed object-awareness. We show that the activity-centered paradigm of existing WfMS is too inflexible in this context, and we discuss major requirements needed to enable object-awareness in processes management systems.