Browse Prior Art Database

Notification Thresholds in Workflow Management Systems

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000014462D
Original Publication Date: 2000-Aug-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-19
Document File: 4 page(s) / 111K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

1. Introduction Workflow management systems [1] support the definition and execution of business processes. Those business processes are made up of a set of activities. The sequence in which these activities are executed is specified via control connectors. Control connectors connect one activity, the source activity, with another activity, the target activity. It is important that the business processes as a whole as well as the individual activities are carried out in a certain time and that appropriate actions are taken if the specified times are exceeded. Thus the workflow management system must (1) provide the capability to specify those times and the actions that should be taken and (2) enforce these specifications when carrying out business processes. MQSeries Workflow [2] calls this function notification. This name has been choosen since notifying some person is the only action that the system supports if a specified time is exceeded. Figure 1 shows the notification that MQSeries Workflow allows to specify for a process. It defines that a notification is sent to the process administrator if the process has not been completed in 10 days.

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Notification Thresholds in Workflow Management Systems

1. Introduction

    Workflow management systems [1] support the definition and execution of business processes. Those business processes are made up of a set of activities. The sequence in which these activities are executed is specified via control connectors. Control connectors connect one activity, the source activity, with another activity, the target activity. It is important that the business processes as a whole as well as the individual activities are carried out in a certain time and that appropriate actions are taken if the specified times are exceeded. Thus the workflow management system must (1) provide the capability to specify those times and the actions that should be taken and (2) enforce these specifications when carrying out business processes.

    MQSeries Workflow [2] calls this function notification. This name has been choosen since notifying some person is the only action that the system supports if a specified time is exceeded.

    Figure 1 shows the notification that MQSeries Workflow allows to specify for a process. It defines that a notification is sent to the process administrator if the process has not been completed in 10 days.

PROCESS LoanProcess

   NOTIFICATION AFTER 10 DAYS
END LoanProcess

Figure 1 Simple Notification for a Process

    Figure 2 shows the notification that MQSeries Workflow allows to specify for an activity.

ACTIVITY CheckCredit

NOTIFICATION AFTER

   TAKEN FROM ActivityDuration
TO ActivityEscalationPerson SECOND_NOTIFICATON

     TAKEN FROM ActivityFinalEscalation
END CheckCredit

Figure 2 Advanced Notification for an Activity

    It defines that a first notification is sent out to the person specified in the input container field ActivityEscalationPerson if the activity is not completed in the time specified in the input container field ActivityDuration . If this escalation is not completed in the time specified in the input container field ActivityFinalEscalation , a second notification is sent to the process administrator.

    The above definitions result in the sending of a notification for each activity that exceeds the specified notification period. This may result in a myriad of notifications being sent, possibly within a short period of time. [3] shows a proposal how one could cope with this situation.

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2. Problem Statement

    The shown notification mechanism does not address the problem that no overall picture of notifications is available or made available. This information would help to implement a notification monitor; in its simplest form as a traffic light, where red means out of control, green everything ok.

3. State of the Art

    The audit trail written by the workflow management system contains all notifications. One could write a program that periodically queries the audit trail and obtains the appropriate notification information. The impact on the processing of the workflow management system however is tremendous. It would cause the slowdown...