Modern enterprise organisations rely on dynamic processes. Generally these processes cannot be modelled once and executed repeatedly without change. Enterprise processes may evolve unpredictably according to situations that cannot always be prescribed. However, no mechanism exists to ensure an updated process does not violate any compliance requirements.
Typical workflow processes may follow a process definition and execute several thousand instances using a workflow engine without any changes. This is suitable for routine business processes. However, when business processes need flexibility, adaptive features are needed. Updating processes may violate compliance requirements so automatic verification of compliance checking is necessary. The research work presented in this Thesis investigates the problem of current workflow technology in defining, managing and ensuring the specification and execution of business processes that are dynamic in nature, combined with policy standards throughout the process lifycle.
The findings from the literature review and the system requirements are used to design the proposed system architecture. Since a two-tier reference process model is not sufficient as a basis for the reference model for an adaptive and compliance workflow management system, a three-tier process model is proposed. The major components of the architecture consist of process models, business rules and plugin modules. This architecture exhibits the concept of user adaptation with structural checks and dynamic adaptation with data-driven checks.
A research prototype - Adaptive and Compliance Workflow Management System (ACWfMS) - was developed based on the proposed system architecture to implement core services of the system for testing and evaluation purposes. The ACWfMS enables the development of a workflow management tool to create or update the process models. It automatically validates compliance requirements and, in the case of violations, visual feedback is presented to the user. In addition, the architecture facilitates process migration to manage specific instances with modified definitions. A case study based on the postgraduate research process domain is discussed.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.