On the Use of a Role Ontology to Consistently Design Business Processes

  • Artur Caetano
  • José Tribolet
Part of the IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology book series (IFIPAICT, volume 353)


The functional decomposition of a business process breaks it down into progressively less granular activities. Decomposition contributes to the modular design of a system, the reuse of its parts and to its overall comprehensibility. But achieving these qualities requires a business process to be decomposed consistently, which implies it is always split into an identical set of activities according to a specific purpose, regardless of the modeller’s and modelling context. This paper describes an application of the principle of role-based separation of concerns to consistently decompose a business process into its constituent atomic activities, thus separating its distinct features and minimizing behaviour overlap. An activity is abstracted as collaboration between role types that are played by entities. The decomposition method successively separates the overlapping roles until an activity is specified as a collaboration of an orthogonal set of role types. The method facilitates the consistent decomposition of a business process and the identification of its atomic activities. The relevance of the method is assessed through a number of scenarios according to the guidelines of design science research.


business process modelling functional decomposition separation of concerns enterprise architecture 


  1. 1.
    Bieberstein, N., Bose, S., Fiammante, M., Jones, K., Shah, R.: Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) Compass: Business Value, Planning, and Enterprise Roadmap. IBM Press, New York (2005)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Lankhorst, M.: Enterprise Architecture at Work: Modelling, Communication and Analysis. Springer, Heidelberg (2006)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Davenport, T.: Process Innovation: Reengineering Work Through Information Technology. Harvard Business School Press, Boston (1993)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Dietz, J.L.G.: Enterprise Ontology: Theory and Methodology. Springer, Berlin (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Op’t Land, M., Proper, E., Waage, M., Cloo, J., Steghuis, C.: Enterprise Architecture: Creating Value by Informed Governance. Springer, Heidelberg (2009)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Huber, P., Jensen, K., Shapiro, R.M.: Hierarchies in Coloured Petri Nets. In: Rozenberg, G. (ed.) APN 1990. LNCS, vol. 483, pp. 313–341. Springer, Heidelberg (1991)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bass, L., Clements, P., Kazman, R.: Software Architecture in Practice. Addison-Wesley, Reading (1998)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    OMG, Business Process Modeling Notation Specification. v 1.1 (formal/2008-01-17) (2008) Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Scheer, A.-W.: Business Process Modeling, 3rd edn. Springer, Berlin (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Mayer, R.J., Menzel, C.P., Painter, M.K., deWitte, P.S., Blinn, T., Perakath, B.: Information Integration for Concurrent Engineering - IDEF3: Knowledge Based Systems Inc. (1995)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Reisig, W., Rozenberg, G.: APN 1998, 1st edn. LNCS, vol. 1491. Springer, Heidelberg (1998)CrossRefMATHGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kloppmann, M., Koenig, D., Leymann, F., Pfau, G., Rickayzen, A., van Riegen, C., Schmidt, P., Trickovic, I.: WS-BPEL Extension for Subprocesses BPEL-SPE. IBM and SAP Joint White Paper (2005)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Davis, R., Brabdänder, E.: ARIS Design Platform. Springer, London (2007)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Ingvaldsen, J.E., Gulla, J.A.: Model Based Business Process Mining. Journal of Information Systems Management 23 (2006)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Bolstorff, P., Rosenbaum, R.: Supply Chain Excellence: A Handbook for Dramatic Improvement Using the SCOR Model, 2nd edn. Springer, Berlin (2008)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    APQC, APQC Process Clarification Framework - Consumer Products, version 5.0.2, 10/04/2008 (2008) Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Hornung, T., Koschmider, A., Lausen, G.: Recommendation Based Process Modeling Support: Method and User Experience. In: Li, Q., Spaccapietra, S., Yu, E., Olivé, A. (eds.) ER 2008. LNCS, vol. 5231, pp. 265–278. Springer, Heidelberg (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    van der Aalst, W.M.P., de Beer, H.T., van Dongen, B.F.: Process Mining and Verification of Properties: An Approach Based on Temporal Logic. In: Meersman, R. (ed.) OTM 2005. LNCS, vol. 3760, pp. 130–147. Springer, Heidelberg (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    van der Aalst, W., Reijers, H., Weijters, A., van Dongen, B., de Medeiros, A.A., Song, M., Verbeek, H.: Business Process Mining: An Industrial Application. Information Systems Journal 32, 713–732 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Uschold, M., King, M., Moralee, S., Zorgios, Y.: The Enterprise Ontology. The Knowledge Engineering Review 13, 31–89 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Greco, G., Guzzo, A., Pontieri, L., Sacca, D.: An ontology-driven process modeling framework. In: Galindo, F., Takizawa, M., Traunmuller, R. (eds.) 15th International Conference on Database and Expert Systems Applications, pp. 13–23. IEEE Computer Society, Zaragoza (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Albani, A., Dietz, J.L.G., Zaha, J.: Identifying Business Components on the basis of an Enterprise Ontology. In: Interoperability of Enterprise Software and Applications, pp. 335–347. Springer, Heidelberg (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Bachman, C.W.: The role data model approach to data structures. In: Deen, S.M., Hammersley, P. (eds.) International Conference on Databases, pp. 1–18. Heyden & Son (1980)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Kristensen, B.: Object-Oriented Modeling with Roles. In: 2nd International Conference on Object-Oriented Information Systems (1995)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Reenskaug, T., Wold, P., Lehn, O.: Working With Objects: The OOram Software Engineering Method. Manning Publication Co., Greenwhich (1996)MATHGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Steimann, F.: On the representation of roles in object-oriented and conceptual modelling. Data & Knowledge Engineering 35, 83–106 (2000)CrossRefMATHGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Riehle, D.: Framework Design: A Role Modeling Approach. PhD Zurich, Switzerland: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, p. 229 (2000)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Ould, M.: Business Processes: Modeling and analysis for re-engineering and improvement. John Wiley & Sons, Chichester (1995)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Krogstie, J., Carlsen, S., Consulting, A., Chicago, I.L.: An integrated modelling approach for process support. In: 30th Hawaii International Conference onSystem Sciences, HICSS 1997, vol. 2 (1997)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Wegmann, A.: On the systemic enterprise architecture methodology. In: International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems (ICEIS 2003), Angers, France (2003)Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Lê, L.-S., Wegmann, A.: SeamCAD: Object-Oriented Modeling Tool for Hierarchical Systems in Enterprise Architecture. In: 39th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Hawaii, USA (2006)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Zacarias, M., Caetano, A., Magalhães, R., Pinto, H.S., Tribolet, J.: Towards Organizational Self-Awareness. In: Rittgen, P. (ed.) Ontologies for Business Interactions. Idea Group Inc. (2007)Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Caetano, A., Rito Silva, A., Tribolet, J.: A Role-Based Enterprise Architecture Framework. In: 24th Annual ACM Symposium on Applied Computing, ACM SAC 2009, Hawaii, USA (2009)Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Zacarias, M., Magalhães, R., Pinto, H.S., Tribolet, J.: An agent-centric and ‘context-aware’ perspective for the alignment between individuals and organizations. Information Systems (March 14, 2009)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Sowa, J.: Conceptual Structures: Information Processing in Mind and Machine. Addison-Wesley, New York (1984)MATHGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Guarino, N., Carrara, M., Giaretta, P.: An Ontology of Meta-Level Categories. In: Principles of Knowledge Representation and Reasoning: Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference (KR 1994), pp. 270–280. Morgan Kaufmann, San Mateo (1994)Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Carlsen, S.: Comprehensible Business Process Models for Process Improvement and Process Support. In: 8th International Conference, CAISE 1996. LNCS, vol. 1080. Springer, Heidelberg (1996)Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Giaglis, G.M.: A Taxonomy of Business Process Modeling and Information Systems Modeling Techniques. International Journal of Flexible Manufacturing Systems 13, 209–228 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    March, S., Smith, G.: Design and natural science research on information technology. Decision Support Systems 15, 251–266 (1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Hevner, A.R., March, S.T., Park, J., Ram, S.: Design science in information systems research. MIS Quarterly 28, 75–105 (2004)Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Braun, C., Wortmann, F., Hafner, M., Winter, R.: Method construction - a core approach to organizational engineering. In: ACM Symposium on Applied Computing, USA, pp. 1295–1299 (2005)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© International Federation for Information Processing 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Artur Caetano
    • 1
    • 2
  • José Tribolet
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Instituto Superior TécnicoTechnical University of LisbonLisboaPortugal
  2. 2.INESC ID & INESC INOVLisboaPortugal

Personalised recommendations