Technology Profile: Automatic Support for Enterprise
Modelling and Workflow
Web homepage: http://www.aiai.ed.ac.uk/~jessicac
Author: Dr. Yun-Heh (Jessica) Chen-Burger
Owner: Yun-Heh Chen-Burger and The University of Edinburgh
Affiliation: AIAI, CISA, Informatics, The University of Edinburgh
Addresses KM Challenge(s): Knowledge Acquisition, Modelling, Sharing
and Reuse, and Maintenance
Builds on other technologies: KBST-BM, KBST-EM, Ontologies, Prolog,
IBM Business Modelling Method, IDEF3, IDEF0, PIF, PSL, Organisational Modelling
Methods, Case Based Reasoning, Knowledge Representation and Engineering.
What's the Problem?
- Enterprise Modelling (EM) methods are well recognised for their value
in describing complex domains in an organised but usually informal structure.
Because of their lack of formal structure, the use of Enterprise Models that
have been developed is limited.
- Domain experts are normally not knowledge modellers and need to be
assisted with automatic facilities to help them refine, verify, validate
and share their models.
- Collaborative knowledge work in real organisations may use different
(informal) models to capture their group memory, consensus and visions. These
models need to be shared and reused correctly to allow effective communication
and learning. However, because of the informal nature of such models not all
information has been shared effectively. When models are not being described
formally, there may not be adequate facilities to support the exchange of
information and ensure the consistency between different models.
- Business process modelling techniques provide rich conceptualization
that tend to describe the type of information required by the adaptive workflow
systems. However, to achieve more widespread application, Workflow Management
Systems (WfMS) need to be developed to operate in dynamic environments where
they are expected to ensure that users are supported in performing flexible
and creative tasks while maintaining organisational norms. Unfortunately,
such needs have not been fully addressed.
Towards a Solution
Providing a Holistic Support Framework for Informal Modelling Activities
We propose a holistic support modelling framework to assist informal modelling
that may be applied throughout the design-build-test-refine-use lifecycle.
The framework is under-pinned by formal methods and illustrated in Figure
Figure 1: A Holistic Support Framework for Informal Modelling Activities
To support the building of an enterprise model, an iterative cycle of knowledge-based
support may be provided. KBST-EM is a generic modelling system that has
been built on top of Hardy - a programmable hypertext diagram tool that has
been built in AIAI. Below is a list of example support facilities that are
provided by KBST-EM (Knowledge Based Support Tool for Enterprise Modelling)
and a workflow engine:
Currently, 29 different modelling methods are supported by the KBST-EM and
around 40 models are stored in the KBST-EM. Under the AKT project, two new
methods were devised, AKT research map  and FBPML  and five new
models have been developed. In KBST-EM, all modelling methods are supported
with generic knowledge based support, some of them also have method-specific
- Method-specific model creation and documentation ;
- Generic and method-specific knowledge based analysis, e.g. error detection
and correction advise giving ;
- Ontology based knowledge sharing between multiple models where each
model may be described using different modelling methods ;
- Dynamic behaviour illustration through state-stepping ;
- Case-based retrieving and reuse of history models ;
- Automatic translation to a different modelling language ;
- When the enterprise model is a process model, the process mode may
be used as a blueprint to automatically generate or modify a workflow system
that implements the process model in real life. Figure 1 shows workflow systems
J and K operating as agents in a distributed environment .
Figure 2 is a screen shot of KBST-EM. It shows a part of the ontology that
has been used in the application domain of PC Configuration that is a part
of the AKT work item: KRAFT-IX TIE (see KRAFT-IX TIE technology profile web
page for more details ).
Figure 2: Partial Ontology in the PC Configuration domain (screen shot from KBST-EM)
Figure 3 shows another screen shot of KBST-EM which is part of a process
model. This process model is written in FBPML (Fundamental Business Process
Modelling Language) that has been developed as a part of AKT.
Figure 3: Process Model for PC Configuration Application (screen shot from
Knowledge Sharing and Inconsistency Checking between Multiple Models
To support knowledge sharing and improve consistency between models, an ontological
mapping framework has been devised to enable the mapping between primitives
of different modelling methods and concepts that have been captured in different
models. Figure 4 shows an ontology based framework that shows how knowledge
may be shared between different models.
Figure 4: A common ontology captures the concepts that are being shared
between different models
Figure 5 gives an example where the same or similar information has
been captured in different types of models, i.e. in the process, data and
business-oriented models. In this example, and through the use of the underlying
shared ontology, it was derived that D1, D1' and D1'' are compatible, and
that O1, O1' and O1'' are compatible. These shared common knowledge can be
used to provide a basis for exercising consistency checking in different models.
For instance, in the model (a), D1 is an output of Process 1 that is followed
by Process 2. Upon finishing the execution of Process 1, Process 2 takes
D1 as an input and generates O1 as an output. In other words, model (a) specifies
the existence of O1 is depended upon the existence of D1. On the other hand,
model (b) indicates that the existence of O1' is depended upon the existence
of D1'. This dependency is illustrated through the total participation relation
of Rel'. As independently, through the underlying ontology we already know
that D1 is compatible/the same to D1', and that O1 is compatible/the same
to O1', we can say that the above relations that have been defined in the
two models are consistent. Inconsistencies however may occur if model (b)
defined that D1' is required to be total participated in O1'.
This consistency checking technique is based upon the knowing of the meta-knowledge
of modelling primitives used by the different models involved and the mapping
of the underlying domain ontology that the models based upon. The matching
approach for similar concepts in the domain was described in Figure 4. When
consistency checking activities are repeatedly applied, the similar parts
of different models can be mapped with each other and errors found.
Figure 5: The same and similar information are often captured in different
types of models, but described in different format
Support for Workflow System development: From design of process models
to generation of workflow systems
Figure 3 gave a graphical description of a process model using FBPML notation
. Since FBPML has declarative execution semantics for processes, process
models written in FBPML give precise instructions for implementing a
workflow system. Given a set of workflow functions that implement the corresponding
components that are included in the FBPML process model, a workflow engine
interprets the process model (against dynamics in the world) and invokes
the appropriate functions for execution. Figure 6 gives the overall architecture
of a workflow engine. More details are given in .
Figure 6: Overall Architecture of Workflow Engine
Take a Guided Tour
- Virtual organisation communication and collaboration
- Workflow applications
- E-Business applications
- Agent based systems collaboration
Example Key documents
-  Yun-Heh Chen-Burger. Formal Support
for an Informal Business Modelling Method. PhD Thesis, The University
of Edinburgh, 2000.
-  Yun-Heh Chen-Burger. Knowledge Based Multi-Perspective Framework
For Enterprise Modelling. Technical Report, Informatics Report Series, University
of Edinburgh, EDI-INF-RR-0036, Feb.2001.
-  Yun-Heh Chen-Burger, AKT Research Map.
-  Yun-Heh Chen-Burger. Sharing
and Checking Organisation Knowledge. Chapter of book: Knowledge Management and
Organizational Memories. Editors: Rose Dieng-Kuntz, Nada Matta. Publisher:
Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston Hardbound, ISBN 0-7923-7659-5, July 2002.
-  Yun-Heh Chen-Burger, Informal
Semantics for the FBPML Data Language, Informatics Report Series:
EDI-INF-RR-0154 , School of Informatics, The University of Edinburgh, Oct. 2002.
-  Yun-Heh Chen-Burger, Dave Robertson, Jussi Stader. A Case-Based
Reasoning Framework for Enterprise Model Building, Sharing and Reusing.
European Conference of Artificial Intelligence, Knowledge Management and Organizational
Memories Workshop, Berlin, ECAI 2000 and is published on the web and
in its proceedings.
-  Yun-Heh Chen-Burger, Dave Robertson, Jussi Stader (AIAI). Formal
Support for an Informal Business Modelling Method. The International Journal
of Software Engineering and Knowledge Engineering, IJSEKE February 2000.
World Scientific Publishing Company.
-  Yun-Heh Chen-Burger, Jussi Stader. Chapter of book in: Formal
Support for Adaptive Workflow Systems in a Distributed Environment. Workflow Handbook 2003, Editor:
Layna Fischer, Workflow Management Coalition, Publisher: Future Strategies
Inc., USA, 2003.
-  Yun-Heh Chen-Burger, Austin Tate, and Dave Robertson, Enterprise
Modelling: A Declarative Approach for FBPML , European Conference of
Artificial Intelligence, Knowledge Management and Organisational Memories
Workshop, 2002. Published in its proceedings.
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