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Detecting potential weaknesses in business processes: An exploration of semantic pattern matching in process models

Philipp Bergener (European Research Center for Information Systems, University of Münster, Münster, Germany.)
Patrick Delfmann (European Research Center for Information Systems, University of Münster, Münster, Germany.)
Burkhard Weiss (European Research Center for Information Systems, University of Münster, Münster, Germany)
Axel Winkelmann (Department of Business Administration, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany.)

Business Process Management Journal

ISSN: 1463-7154

Article publication date: 30 January 2015

Abstract

Purpose

Automating the task of identifying process weaknesses using process models is promising, as many organizations have to manage a large amount of process models. The purpose of this paper is to introduce a pattern-based approach for automatically detecting potential process weaknesses in semantic process models, thus supporting the task of business process improvement.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on design research, combined with a case study, the authors explore the design, application and evaluation of a pattern-based process weakness detection approach within the setting of a real-life case study in a German bank.

Findings

Business process weakness detection can be automated to a remarkable extent using pattern matching and a semantic business process modeling language. A case study provided evidence that such an approach highly supports business process analysts.

Research limitations/implications

The presented approach is limited by the fact that not every potential process weakness detected by pattern matching is really a weakness but just gives the impression to be one. Hence, after detecting a weakness, analysts still have to decide on its authenticity.

Practical implications

Applying weakness patterns to semantic process models via pattern matching allows organizations to automatically and efficiently identify process improvement potentials. Hence, this research helps to avoid time- and resource-consuming manual analysis of process model landscapes.

Originality/value

The approach is not restricted to a single modeling language. Furthermore, by applying the pattern matching approach to a semantic modeling language, the authors avoid ambiguous search results. A case study proves the usefulness of the approach.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This paper was written in the context of the research project IMPROVABLE, which has been conducted by the European Research Center for Information Systems at the University of Muenster. It was generously supported by the DZ BANK Foundation. The authors also kindly thank the German partner bank, which continuously supported this industry-academic research collaboration scheme and participated in evaluating the presented approach.

Citation

Bergener, P., Delfmann, P., Weiss, B. and Winkelmann, A. (2015), "Detecting potential weaknesses in business processes: An exploration of semantic pattern matching in process models", Business Process Management Journal, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 25-54. https://doi.org/10.1108/BPMJ-07-2013-0103

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited