A Holistic Support Framework for Informal Modelling Activities
Automatic Support for Enterprise Modelling and Workflow fact-file
What's the Problem?
- Enterprise Modelling (EM) methods are well recognised for their
value in describing complex domains in an organised but usually
informal structure. Because of their lack of formal structure, the
use of Enterprise Models that have been developed is limited.
- Domain experts are normally not knowledge modellers and need to
be assisted with automatic facilities to help them refine, verify,
validate and share their models.
- Collaborative knowledge work in real organisations may use
different (informal) models to capture their group memory, consensus
and visions. These models need to be shared and reused correctly to
allow effective communication and learning. However, because of the
informal nature of such models not all information has been shared
effectively. When models are not being described formally, there may
not be adequate facilities to support the exchange of information
and ensure the consistency between different models.
- Business process modelling techniques provide rich
conceptualisations that tend to describe the type of information
required by the adaptive workflow systems. However, to achieve more
widespread application, Workflow Management Systems (WfMS) need to
be developed to operate in dynamic environments where they are
expected to ensure that users are supported in performing flexible
and creative tasks while maintaining organisational
norms. Unfortunately, such needs have not been fully addressed.
Towards a Solution
Providing a Holistic Support Framework for Informal Modelling
We propose a holistic supportive modelling framework to assist
informal modelling that may be applied throughout its
design-build-test-refine-use lifecycle. The framework is under-pinned
by formal methods and illustrated in Figure 1 (above).
To support the building of enterprise models, an iterative cycle of
knowledge-based support may be provided. KBST-EM is a generic
modelling system that has been built on top of Hardy - a programmable
hypertext-diagram tool that has been built in AIAI. Below is a list of
example support facilities that are provided by KBST-EM (Knowledge
Based Support Tool for Enterprise Modelling) and a workflow
- Method-specific model creation and documentation; 
- Generic and method-specific knowledge based analysis, error
detection and correction advise giving; 
- Ontology based knowledge sharing between multiple models where
each model may be described using different modelling methods;
- Dynamic behaviour illustration through state-stepping;
- Case-based retrieving and reuse of history models; 
- Automatic translation to a different modelling language;
- When the enterprise model is a process model, the process mode
may be used as a blueprint to automatically generate or modify a
workflow system that implements the process model in real
life. Figure 1 shows workflow systems J and K operating as agents in
a distributed environment. 
Currently, 29 different modelling methods are supported by the
KBST-EM and around 40 models are stored in the KBST-EM. Under the AKT
project, two new methods were devised, AKT research map  and FBPML
 and five new models have been developed. In KBST-EM, all
modelling methods are supported with generic knowledge based support,
and some of them also have method-specific facilities.
Figure 2 is a screen shot of KBST-EM. It shows a part of the
ontology that has been used in the application domain of PC
Configuration that is a part of the AKT work item: KRAFT-IX TIE (see
KRAFT-IX TIE technology profile web page for more details).
Figure 2: Partial Ontology in the PC Configuration domain (KBST-EM screen shot)
Figure 3 shows another screen shot of KBST-EM which is part of a process
model. This process model is written in FBPML (Fundamental Business Process
Modelling Language) that has been developed as a part of AKT.
Figure 3: Process Model for PC Configuration Application
Knowledge Sharing and Inconsistency Checking between Multiple Models
To support knowledge sharing and improve consistency between
models, an ontological mapping framework has been devised to enable
the mapping between primitives of different modelling methods and
concepts that have been captured in different models. Figure 4 shows
an ontology based framework that shows how knowledge may be shared
between different models.
Figure 4: A common ontology captures the concepts that are being shared
between different models
Figure 5 below gives an example where the same and similar
information has been captured in different types of models, i.e. the
process, data and business-view oriented models. These characteristics
enable common knowledge to be shared between different models, and can
be used for consistency checking of different models. This technique
is based on knowledge about the different modelling primitives in
different models and the underlying ontology that matches similar
concepts, as suggested earlier in Figure 4.
Figure 5: The same and similar information are often captured in different types of models, but described in different form
Through the underlying shared ontology of all three models, it can
be derived that D1, D1' and D1'' are compatible, and that O1, O1' and
O1'' are compatible. When this technique is repeatedly applied, parts
of different models can be mapped to each other. Below is an example
of consistency checking axiom that makes use of the common
Support for Workflow System development: From design of process models
to generation of workflow systems
Figure 3 gave a graphical description of a process model using
FBPML notation . Since FBPML has declarative execution semantics
for processes, process models written in FBPML give precise
instructions for implementation of a workflow system. Given a set of
workflow functions that implement the corresponding components that
are included in the FBPML process model, a workflow engine interprets
the process model (against dynamics in the world) and invokes the
appropriate functions for execution. Figure 6 gives the overall
architecture of a workflow engine. More details are given in .
Figure 6: Overall Architecture of Workflow Engine
Take a Guided Tour
- Virtual organisation communication and collaboration
- Workflow applications
- E-Business applications
- Agent based systems collaboration
Example Key documents
-  Yun-Heh Chen-Burger. Formal Support
for an Informal Business Modelling Method. PhD Thesis, The University
of Edinburgh, 2000.
-  Yun-Heh Chen-Burger. Knowledge Based Multi-Perspective Framework
For Enterprise Modelling. Technical Report, Informatics Report Series, University
of Edinburgh, EDI-INF-RR-0036,
-  Yun-Heh Chen-Burger, AKT Research Map.
-  Yun-Heh Chen-Burger. Sharing
and Checking Organisation Knowledge. Chapter of book: Knowledge Management and
Organizational Memories. Editors: Rose Dieng-Kuntz, Nada Matta. Publisher:
Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston Hardbound, ISBN 0-7923-7659-5, July 2002.
-  Yun-Heh Chen-Burger, Informal
Semantics for the FBPML Data Language, Informatics Report Series:
EDI-INF-RR-0154 , School of Informatics, The University of Edinburgh,
-  Yun-Heh Chen-Burger, Dave Robertson, Jussi Stader. A Case-Based
Reasoning Framework for Enterprise Model Building, Sharing and Reusing.
European Conference of Artificial Intelligence, Knowledge Management and Organizational
Memories Workshop, Berlin, ECAI 2000 and is published on the web and
in its proceedings.
-  Yun-Heh Chen-Burger, Dave Robertson, Jussi Stader (AIAI). Formal
Support for an Informal Business Modelling Method. The
International Journal of Software Engineering and Knowledge
Engineering, IJSEKE February 2000. World Scientific Publishing
-  Yun-Heh Chen-Burger, Jussi Stader. Chapter of book in: Formal
Support for Adaptive Workflow Systems in a Distributed Environment. To be
published in Workflow Handbook 2003, Editor:
Layna Fischer, Workflow Management Coalition, Publisher: Future Strategies
Inc., USA, 2003.
-  Yun-Heh Chen-Burger, Austin Tate, and Dave Robertson, Enterprise
Modelling: A Declarative Approach for FBPML , European Conference of
Artificial Intelligence, Knowledge Management and Organisational Memories
Workshop, 2002. Published in its proceedings.
Other relevant documents
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