Business process flexibility - a systematic literature review with a software systems perspective


Business Process flexibility supports organizations in changing their everyday work activities to remain competitive. Since much research has been done on this topic a better awareness on the current state of knowledge is needed. This paper reports the results of a systematic literature review to develop a map on Business Process flexibility with a special focus on software systems related aspects. It covers a spectrum of the state of the art from academic point of view. It includes 164 research works from the main computer science digital libraries. After an introduction into the topic the applied methodology is described. The output of the paper is in the form of schemes and reflections. Starting from the needs for Business Process flexibility, its impact on Business Process life-cycle is introduced. Successively instruments used to express and to support Business Process flexibility are presented together with related validation scenarios. In this paper we also highlight possible future research lines needing further investigations. In particular we identified room for future works in the area of languages for modeling flexibility, on-the-fly verification solutions, adaptation of Business Process running instances, and techniques for evolution recognition.

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    A workflow management system or enterprise resource planning are representative examples of PAISs, making them able to support flexibility is an issue (see for instance (Narendra 2004a)).

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    A software system is dynamic if it can change during the course of its execution (Oreizy 1996).

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    A software system is called self-adaptive if it modifies its own behavior in response to changes in its operating environment (Oreizy et al. 1999).

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    A system is context-aware if it uses context to provide relevant information and/or services to the user, where relevancy depends on the user’s task (Abowd et al. 1999).

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    The used data extraction form is freely available at the following link:

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    Collected data are also freely available at the following link:

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    Data are also available at the following link:


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This research has been partially funded by the EU project Learn PAd GA: 619583.

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Cognini, R., Corradini, F., Gnesi, S. et al. Business process flexibility - a systematic literature review with a software systems perspective. Inf Syst Front 20, 343–371 (2018).

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  • Business process
  • Flexibility
  • Variability
  • Looseness
  • Adaptability
  • Evolution
  • Process aware information systems
  • Business process management
  • Business process life-cycle
  • Languages
  • Mechanisms
  • Cases study
  • Systematic literature review