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Cost based process optimization by Delay

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000022652D
Original Publication Date: 2004-Mar-23
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-Mar-23
Document File: 3 page(s) / 110K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

The idea of this invention is to allow for cost based process optimization by dynamically scheduling the start time of activities within a running business process according to optimization rules.

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Cost based process optimization by Delay

Introduction

    Workflow management systems [1] support the definition and execution of business processes or flows. The major constructs in drawing flows 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. shows schematically the structure of such a flow graph.

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Figure 1: Flow Model

    Activities are represented as named circles; the name typically describes the purpose of the activity. 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.

    According to the control connectors between the activities the process engine can decide to execute certain activities in parallel. In the figure above A2, A3, and A4 could run in parallel. While A5 has to run after both A2 and A3 have completed it still could run in parallel to A4, A6, or A7.

Problem Statement

    Effective and efficient execution is important for business process based applications. There are different criteria that can be used to quantify the efficiency of the execution of a business process. These criteria fall into two categories: Internal execution costs (IT costs) and external business costs. Internal execution costs are the IT costs that come from the IT infrastructure executing the process . Examples are consumed CPU cycles, used disk or database space, or consumption of networking resources. External business costs are costs that can be expressed as an amount of money in a certain currency or something equivalent .

    Optimizing the costs of a business process can be done by modeling the business process in a way that is optimized according to specific criteria. This works sufficiently well in case neither the business process nor the weight of the optimization criteria changes. However, one of the key motives for using business

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processes is the requirement to be able to adjust business logic to changed business needs rapidly. Therefore a more dynamic solution is required.

Solution

    This invention allows cost based process optimization by dynamically influencing the execution time of activities within a running business process . Optimization happens automatically, possibly influenced by administered priorities, by delaying the execution of activities until a point of time that is optimal for minimizing execution costs. The data about the execution costs of the individual activities is managed as part of the process model as shown in the figure below .

Figure 2: Business process with optimization rules

In the following we describe example scenarios where this kind of optimization cou...