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Using work items to manage user interactions with adaptive business services

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000015953D
Original Publication Date: 2002-May-16
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-21
Document File: 3 page(s) / 63K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Disclosed is a design for managing end-user interaction with elements of business process applications, allowing process modellers to define rules for assocating end users with process tasks and allowing end-users to find tasks they have been assigned to in an efficient way.

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Using work items to manage user interactions with adaptive business services

Disclosed is a design for managing end-user interaction with elements of business process applications, allowing process modellers to define rules for assocating end users with process tasks and allowing end-users to find tasks they have been assigned to in an efficient way.

Background:

     In the context of business process management, finite state machines (FSM) are used to manage event-driven aspects of the overall business process. An FSM describes the life cycle of a business entity that is manipulated to perform a business process (e.g., a purchase order in an order handling business process). An FSM is a directed graph with nodes representing the states the business entity can take on and arcs representing valid transitions between the states; transitions are triggered by events received by the FSM and can cause actions to be performed. A state machine defines a template (e.g., "purchase order") for an FSM instance (e.g., "purchase order 42"). The resulting software component is an "adaptive business service" in the sense that the behaviour of the component (which event can be processed, who can send them and what happens in reaction to an event) depends on the state of FSM instance.

     The problem to be solved is how to manage authorisation of end user interactions with instances of a particular FSM-defined (adaptive) business service. At any point in the life cycle of an FSM instance it can receive a specific set of events (those that can trigger a transition from its current state); the authorisation problem is about defining permission of certain end users to produce specific events. The set of users that are allowed to send a specific event at a certain point in the life cycle of an FSM instance depends on the state and other context variables of the FSM instance. The idea:

     The concept of "work items" used in traditional workflow management systems (for assigning workflow tasks to end users) is applied to solve the authorisation problem. Each task in a workflow process can be associated with a "resource definition" expression that defines rules for selecting end users who are responsible for executing that task. During workflow execution, the resource definition is resolved to a specific set of end users and for each one of those a work item is created that represents the association of an end user with a specific workflow task. Work items are persisted in a work item data store and can be queried by end users who want to find out what tasks they are supposed to perform.

     Our solution to the FSM access interaction authorisation problem supports association of a "resource definition" expression with each FSM transition and creation of work items associating end users with potential state transitions during execution of an FSM instance. The work items are kept in the same persistent store as work items created in the context of workflow process executio...