Organizational Management in Workflow Applications – Issues and Perspectives

Michael Zur Muehlen
2004 Journal of Special Topics in Information Technology and Management  
Business processes automation requires the specification of process structures as well as the definition of resources involved in the execution of these processes. While the modeling of business processes and workflows is well researched, the link between the organizational elements and process activities is less well understood, and current developments in the web services choreography area completely neglect the organizational aspect of workflow applications. The purpose of this paper is to
more » ... ve an overview of the organizational aspects of workflow technology in the context of the workflow life cycle, to provide a review of existing work, and to develop guidelines for the design of a workflow-enabled organization, which can be used by both workflow vendors and users. Workflow management systems coordinate activities, resources, and data according to the formal representation of the process logic, the workflow model [48] . They can help realize efficiency potentials through the elimination of transport and wait times between process activities, and provide a detailed level of control over the assignment of work to process participants. The importance of human involvement in workflow applications has recently been pointed out by MOORE, who identified excessive activity automation and poor design of work assignment strategies as critical issues in workflow projects [33] . The roots of contemporary workflow management solutions can be found in the office automation prototypes of the 1970s (compare, e.g., [19, 51] ), which were oriented towards the automation of human-centric processes. Recent developments in the area of web services choreography have discounted the organizational aspect of workflow solution and focus exclusively on the coordination of control flow structures. For instance, the proposed standards WSCI (a subset of BPML) [4], WSCL [5] and BPEL4WS [14] do not contain any notion of human activity performers. Instead, they are focused on the technical coordination of inter-enterprise processes, with little or no human intervention. This indicates a split in the traditionally diverse field of workflow management (for a discussion of different technical areas related to workflow management refer to [42]). While some vendors focus on the automation of mainly technical processes, such as the automated data exchange between disparate applications, other vendors stress the organizational aspect of their solutions and focus on human-centric processes [35]. The purpose of this paper is to give an overview of the organizational aspects of workflow applications, to provide a review of existing work, and to position this work in the context of the workflow life cycle. Based on this review we point out design guidelines that could improve the success of workflow applications.
doi:10.1023/b:item.0000031582.55219.2b fatcat:uyqpb5cgr5boviazwonljym6mm