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User-Defined Audit Trail Records in Workflow Management Systems

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000015315D
Original Publication Date: 2001-Oct-12
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-20
Document File: 6 page(s) / 151K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

1. Introduction

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User-Defined Audit Trail Records in Workflow Management Systems

1. Introduction

    Workflow management systems [1] support the definition and execution of business processes. The major constructs in drawing processes are activities and control connectors. The activities describe the tasks to be performed, and the control connectors describe the potential sequence in which the activities are to be carried out. Figure 1 (all figures copyrigthed IBM/Prentice Hall) shows schematically the structure of such a process graph.

Figure 1 Process Model

    Activities are represented as named circles; the name typically describes the purpose of the activity. Activities come in various flavors to address the different tasks that may need to be performed. They may have different activity implementations to meet these diverse needs. Program activities are performed by an assigned program, process activities are performed by another process, and blocks implement a macro with a built-in do-until loop.

    Control connectors are represented as arrows; the head of the arrow describes the direction in which the flow of control is moving through the process. The activity where the control connector starts is called the source activity; where it ends is called the target activity.

    Dependent on the implementation of an activity, several activity types are differentiated : process activities are implemented via a sub-process, or program activities via executables, such as programs or DLLs. Information activities have no implementation at all; they are just used to convey some information.

    Typically workflow management systems write information to one or more audit trails. These audit trail contain a record for each major event, such as start or termination of a process

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or activity. This audit trail can be used for many purposes, for example, it may be required for legal reasons to keep the complete execution history of each executed business process, or it can be used to perform an analysis of the business processes to determine bottles or possible improvements.

    Processes have a set of states associated with them. State changes are caused either by some external request or by the WFMS when navigating through the process model. Figure 2 shows a subset of the states that MQSeries Workflow [2] supports.

Figure 2 Process State Machine

    The same is true for activity; they also have a state engine associated with them. Figure 3 shows the appropriate MQSeries Workflow state engine for activities. The state Executing/Waiting is of particular interest. When a program activity is being carried, the state of the activity is Executing; when an event activity is being carried out, the state of the activity is called Waiting to indicating that the event activity waits for some external signal to arrive.

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Figure 3 Activity State Machine

    It shou...