Browse Prior Art Database

Audit Trail Support For Program Activity Implementations Of Workflow Management Systems

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000123000D
Original Publication Date: 1998-Mar-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Apr-04
Document File: 4 page(s) / 208K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Duscher, R: AUTHOR [+3]

Abstract

Workflow management systems support the execution of business processes which are modeled as a network of activities. IBM FlowMark is a well-known implementation of a workflow management system. In this implementation, the network of activities is constructed as a directed, acrylic, weighted, colored graph. The nodes of the graph represent the activities to be performed. The edges of the graph describe the potential sequence of execution of the activities. Definition of the process graph is via the IBM FlowMark (1, 2) Definition Language (FDL) or the built-in graphical editor.

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This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 25% of the total text.

Audit Trail Support For Program Activity Implementations Of Workflow
Management Systems

1.  INTRODUCTION

      Workflow management systems support the execution of business
processes which are modeled as a network of activities.  IBM FlowMark
is a well-known implementation of a workflow management system.  In
this implementation, the network of activities is constructed as a
directed, acrylic, weighted, colored graph.  The nodes of the graph
represent the activities to be performed.  The edges of the graph
describe the potential sequence of execution of the activities.
Definition of the process graph is via the IBM FlowMark (1, 2)
Definition Language (FDL) or  the built-in graphical editor.

      Processes are created as instances of process models.  The
workflow management system executes these process instances by
interpreting the appropriate process graph and distributing the
execution of activities to the right people at the right place.

      Activities are implemented either via another process (process
activity) or a program (program activity).  Program stands
synonomously for every type of executable, such as .EXE files, .DLL
files, Java applets etc.  Each activity is associated with an input
container and an  output container.  The containers are made up of a
set of fields.

      When the workflow management system processes a progamm
activity, it materializes the input container, and invokes the
program activity implementation via the appropriate invocation
mechanism.  A program activity implementation usually first accesses
the input container to obtain the context in which it operates, such
as a personnel  number or a salary increase.  This information is
then typically used to  perform some operations, such as accessing
the personnel database using  the personnel number or updating the
salary field of the selected personnel record.  At the end, the
output container is filled with new  process relevant information,
such as the newly calculated salary, which  then can be used as
context information in subsequent activities or in  transition
condition to control the path through the business process.

      The program activity implementation is generally not invoked at
the site where the workflow management system executes.  The program
activity implementations for example could be an interactive data
collection program that is performed on the user's work station
running OS/2 or a long-running batch program executing on an AS/400.
The workflow management system itself may reside on an MVS system.

      Typically workflow management systems write an audit
trail.  This audit trail contains a record for each major event, such
as start or termination of a process or an activity.  This audit
trail can  be used for many purposes, for example to keep, for legal
reasons, the  complete execution history of each executed business
process, or to perform an analysis of the business process...