Enhancing business process execution with a context engine

by   Christian Janiesch Jörn Kuhlenkamp, et al.

Changes in workflow relevant data of business processes at run-time can hinder their completion or impact their profitability as they have been instantiated under different circumstances. The purpose of this paper is to propose a context engine to enhance a business process management (BPM) system's context-awareness. The generic architecture provides the flexibility to configure processes during initialization as well as to adapt running instances at decision gates or during execution due to significant context change. The paper discusses context-awareness as the conceptual background. The technological capabilities of business rules and complex event processing (CEP) are outlined in an architecture design. A reference process is proposed and discussed in an exemplary application. The results provide an improvement over the current situation of static variable instantiation of business processes with local information. The proposed architecture extends the well-known combination of business rules and BPM systems with a context engine based on CEP. The resulting architecture for a BPM system using a context engine is generic in nature and, hence, requires to be contextualized for situated implementations. Implementation success is dependent on the availability of context information and process compensation options. Practitioners receive advice on a reference architecture and technology choices for implementing systems, which can provide and monitor context information for business processes as well as intervene and adapt the execution. Currently, there is no multi-purpose non-proprietary context engine based on CEP or any other technology available for BPM, which facilitates the adaptation of processes at run-time due to changes in context variables. This paper will stimulate a debate between research and practice on suitable design and technology.


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