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Using staff queries for escalation in workflow management systems

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000030454D
Original Publication Date: 2004-Aug-13
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-Aug-13
Document File: 4 page(s) / 54K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Workflow management systems manage the 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. Activities, that need to be carried out by people, are associated with a staff query which defines, typically specified in organizational terms, which employee(s) are assigned to the activity. If selected employees do not carry the assigned task in a specified time frame, the appropriate management is informed (an action which is called escalation). The approach of just selecting the appropriate manager as the target of the escalation is rather limited. It is proposed to enhance escalation through the support of staff queries; that means use a staff query to locate the appropriate escalation point.

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Using staff queries for escalation in workflow management systems

Workflow management systems manage the execution of business processes . Those business processes are typically modeled as direct, acyclic, colored and weighted graphs. 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 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. When more than one control connector leaves an activity, this indicates potentially parallel work.

    Activities describe the actual work that needs to be performed . Figure 2 shows the inner details of an activity and indicates what is being done in the individual parts of an activity.

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Figure 2 Fine Structure of Activities

    The query on organization database and proper implementation form the core of the activity.

    The query against the organization database specifies in organizational terms who should carry out the activity. Since people in the organization are typically called staff, this query against the organizational database is also called a staff query . When the activity is ready for processing, this query is carried out and returns a set of users that are assigned to the activity. The process of finding the appropriate people is called staff resolution.

    The proper implementation specifies what is used to carry out the activity and how it is to be carried out.

    The implementation could be a program that is executed or another process that is invoked.

    The combination of the proper implementation and the query against the organization database is called a task . When the activity needs to be carried out, staff resolution returns the list of users that need to be assigned to the activity . Multiple users are selected for an activity, on the theory, that the more people know that a work request requires their action, the more likely it is that the work request is performed soon. The workflow management system ensures that only one user performs the requested work. The workflow management system then...