The modelling of organizational aspects also provides flexibility in business
process management. In this section, role resolution in an intra-company setting
is discussed, in which different approaches are investigated to associate
knowledge workers with business process activities .
In the case of human interaction workflows, the enactment environment of
the business process has to take into account the organizational structure of
the company that runs the business process. Flexibility in organizational modelling
is achieved by assigning roles to process activities, and not to specific
By associating roles with activity models at design time and mapping roles
to personnel that is skilled, competent, and available to perform the activity
at run time, flexibility is improved, because changes in the personnel structure
of the organization do not affect the business processes.
For instance, absent knowledge workers are not with associated with specific
activity instances, as are persons who are currently available. Thereby, the dynamic aspect in the organization—knowledge workers might be temporarily
absent or there might be changes in the work force—can be represented
at the model level. Consequently, changes in the personnel are hidden from
the process, as long as the roles defined in the model can actually be filled by
persons in the organization.
Consider a business process with a set of activities that need to be executed
sequentially.These activities involve entering a credit request
(Enter Credit Request), gathering information on the financial situation of
the client (Analzye client), proposing a decision on the credit request, and
reviewing and submitting the decision.
A subset of these activities is assigned the same role. In the example,
a clerk is responsible for the first three activities, whereas the clerk’s boss
finally decides and submits the decision. This situation can be represented in
a business process model by associating the role Clerk and the role Boss with
their respective activities.
For each process instance by role resolution, the system offers these activities
to knowledge workers who can fulfil the respective role. Figure 3.35 shows
a situation in which three different knowledge workers with the role Clerk are
associated with the activity instances of that role.
While this role resolution is correct from a formal point of view, this situation
is undesirable in most cases because each clerk needs to understand the
context of the case, which leads to longer process durations and potentially
In the example, the handover of work from Peter to Charles and from
Charles to Anne leads to delays in process executions and should therefore
be avoided. In addition, Charles needs to get familiar with the case entered
by Peter, and Anne needs to get familiar with the case that Charles analyzed
This figure also shows that at the business process instance level, knowledge
workers are associated with activity instances, while at the business
process model level, roles are associated with activity models.
To provide adequate support through role resolution, the business process
model needs to contain the information that whoever conducted the first clerk activity also has to conduct the other two clerk activities. In this case, all
clerk activities are associated with Charles, who then can perform them much
quicker than the three persons in the previous setting.
This advanced role resolution works well if the same knowledge worker
is available during the whole business process instance—or at least during
the steps that the person conducts. But there are cases where a person has
started on a process instance by conducting the first activity, but then becomes
In this case, a decision needs to be made: either the process is delayed
until the person returns to work or the case is transferred to another clerk.
This clerk needs to understand the overall context of the case before he can
start processing the activity. This decision is influenced by multiple factors,
such as the type of business process, the expected delay, and the effect of the
delay, and therefore cannot be performed automatically in general.