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Business process verification – finally a reality!

M.T. Wynn (Business Process Management Group, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)
H.M.W. Verbeek (Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, The Netherlands)
W.M.P. van der Aalst (Business Process Management Group, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, The Netherlands)
A.H.M. ter Hofstede (Business Process Management Group, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)
D. Edmond (Business Process Management Group, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)

Business Process Management Journal

ISSN: 1463-7154

Article publication date: 6 February 2009

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that process verification has matured to a level where it can be used in practice. This paper reports on new verification techniques that can be used to assess the correctness of real‐life models.

Design/methodology/approach

The proposed approach relies on using formal methods to determine the correctness of business processes with cancellation and OR‐joins. The paper also demonstrates how reduction rules can be used to improve the efficiency. These techniques are presented in the context of the workflow language yet another workflow language (YAWL) that provides direct support for 20 most frequently used patterns found today (including cancellation and OR‐joins). But the results also apply to other languages with these features (e.g. BPMN, EPCs, UML activity diagrams, etc.). An editor has been developed that provides diagnostic information based on the techniques presented in this paper.

Findings

The paper proposes four properties for business processes with cancellation and OR‐joins, namely: soundness, weak soundness, irreducible cancellation regions and immutable OR‐joins and develop new techniques to verify these properties. Reduction rules have been used as a means of improving the efficiency of the algorithm. The paper demonstrates the feasibility of this verification approach using a realistic and complex business process, the visa application process for general skilled migration to Australia, modelled as a YAWL workflow with cancellation regions and OR‐joins.

Originality/value

Business processes sometimes require complex execution interdependencies to properly complete a process. For instance, it is possible that certain activities need to be cancelled mid‐way though the process. Some parallel activities may require complex “wait and see” style synchronisation depending on a given context. These types of business processes can be found in various domains, such as application integration, B2B commerce, web service composition and workflow systems. Even though cancellation and sophisticated join structures are present in many business processes, existing verification techniques are unable to deal with such processes. Hence, this paper plays an important role in making process verification a reality.

Keywords

Citation

Wynn, M.T., Verbeek, H.M.W., van der Aalst, W.M.P., ter Hofstede, A.H.M. and Edmond, D. (2009), "Business process verification – finally a reality!", Business Process Management Journal, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 74-92. https://doi.org/10.1108/14637150910931479

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited