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Options when returning work items in workflow management systems

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000027980D
Original Publication Date: 2004-Apr-16
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-Apr-16
Document File: 2 page(s) / 48K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Workflow Management Systems support the definition and execution of business processes. Business processes consist of a set of activities. Activities that are carried out by people are called staff activities. Staff activities are associated with staff query.This staff query identifies the users that potentially can carry out the activity. When the activity is about to be executed, the Workflow Management System carries out the staff query. For each qualified user, a work item is created. A user starts working on the activity by claiming/checking-out the work item. When finished, the user indicates this via an appropriate command. If the user can not handle the activity, it returns the work item. All originally selected users are eligible again (including the user that returned the work item). This inefficient handling can be improved by adding a set of options to the return work item function.

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Options when returning work items in workflow management systems

  Workflow Management Systems support the definition and execution of business processes. Business processes are typically described as a set of activities. The sequence in which the different activities are carried out is defined via control links . These control links connect two activities. The activity where the control link starts is called the source activity; the activity that is the target of the control link is called the target activity. When the source activity has been completed, the flow of control follows the leaving control links to the next activities; a process that is called process navigation or navigation for short. Workflow Management Systems typically differentiate between different types of activities . One of the most prominent activity types are staff activities. Staff activities are carried out by people, possibly using one or more tools to finish the work associated with the activity.

  A staff activity is associated with a staff query. The staff query is used to determine which people can carry out the activity. The staff query itself is a query against some organizational database that holds the people that are associated with the workflow management system. The result of a such a query is a set of users. The expression SELECT user FROM ORG_DB WHERE Department ="541" AND Job="Specialist" (using some SQL-like syntax for illustration) would select all users that are in department 541and have the job title of a specialist. When the activity is reached via navigation, the Workflow Management System carries out the staff query (a process that the workflow literature, such as Leymann, Roller: Production Workflow: Concepts and Techniques, Prentice Hall, calls staff resolution ). The Workflow Management System then generates for each user that is returned as the result of the query a work item. A work item is kind of a handle to the activity. It appears as an entry in work lists that are maintained for a user .

  When a user selects the work item for such a staff activity, the user in fact issues a claim (sometimes also called check-out) request function for th...