Modeling Business Processes

Modeling Business Processes: A Petri Net-Oriented Approach

Wil van der Aalst
Christian Stahl
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 400
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  • Book Info
    Modeling Business Processes
    Book Description:

    This comprehensive introduction to modeling business-information systems focuses on business processes. It describes and demonstrates the formal modeling of processes in terms of Petri nets, using a well-established theory for capturing and analyzing models with concurrency. The precise semantics of this formal method offers a distinct advantage for modeling processes over the industrial modeling languages found in other books on the subject. Moreover, the simplicity and expressiveness of the Petri nets concept make it an ideal language for explaining foundational concepts and constructing exercises. After an overview of business information systems, the book introduces the modeling of processes in terms of classical Petri nets. This is then extended with data, time, and hierarchy to model all aspects of a process. Finally, the book explores analysis of Petri net models to detect design flaws and errors in the design process. The text, accessible to a broad audience of professionals and students, keeps technicalities to a minimum and offers numerous examples to illustrate the concepts covered. Exercises at different levels of difficulty make the book ideal for independent study or classroom use.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-32254-6
    Subjects: Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    Kurt Jensen

    The development of enterprise information systems is challenging. These systems are complex and possess concurrency and nondeterminism, which makes it difficult to envision all possible execution paths and therefore difficult to design and configure them. As a result, enterprise information systems often malfunction or are misaligned, leading to business processes that have poor performance. The traditional focus on data modeling is too limited, and more attention needs to be paid to the business processes these systems support. Therefore, it is my pleasure to write the foreword of this book on business process modeling.

    Business process modeling has evolved into one...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. 1 Information Systems: Introduction and Concepts
    (pp. 1-40)

    Information systems have become the backbone of most organizations. Banks could not process payments, governments could not collect taxes, hospitals could not treat patients, and supermarkets could not stock their shelves without the support of information systems. In almost every sector—education, finance, government, health care, manufacturing, and businesses large and small—information systems play a prominent role. Every day work, communication, information gathering, and decision making all rely on information technology (IT). When we visit a travel agency to book a trip, a collection of interconnected information systems is used for checking the availability of flights and hotels and...

  6. 2 Business Processes and Information Systems
    (pp. 41-64)

    Information technology has changed business processes within and between organizations. More and more business processes are being conducted under the supervision of enterprise information systems that are driven by the business processes they support. Examples are WfMSs, such as BPM|one and FileNet; ERP systems, such as SAP ERP and Oracle’s JD Edwards EnterpriseOne; and include many domain-specific information systems—for example, hospital information systems, such as ChipSoft and Siemens Soarian. It is hard to imagine enterprise information systems that are unaware of the business processes they support.

    The goal of this chapter is to make clear the omnipresence of business...

  7. 3 Basic Concepts of Petri Nets
    (pp. 65-90)

    Information systems typically control and support business processes. An information system and each business process it supports is a (discrete dynamic) system, which can be modeled as a transition system. As a modeling tool, however, transition systems are not suitable, because it is too cumbersome to describe a complex system in terms of a state space and a transition relation. More advanced modeling tools, such as data models and process models, are needed. Data models describe the state space of a system by classifying the possible data objects of the system and representing their relationships. Process models describe system behavior...

  8. 4 Application of Petri Nets
    (pp. 91-128)

    We can model the behavior of a system with Petri nets. While this is straightforward in the case of a single traffic light and an elevator with only three and five possible states, respectively, it is more difficult in the case of a complex information system. The goal of this chapter is, therefore, to introduce constructs needed for modeling larger systems with Petri nets. Sometimes such constructs are referred to as “patterns.” We illustrate these patterns by constructing and analyzing several Petri nets.

    We start with a discussion about the relationship between systems and their Petri net models (section 4.1)....

  9. 5 Extending Petri Nets by Adding Color and Time
    (pp. 129-168)

    In chapters 3 and 4, we investigated Petri nets as a process modeling technique with several advantages. Petri nets have a strong mathematical foundation and unambiguous semantics. This enables us to apply various analysis techniques to Petri net models. In addition, Petri nets allow for an intuitive graphical representation and are, therefore, accessible and usable for nonexperts. Modeling with Petri nets also has a serious disadvantage: Petri nets fall short if they are used to precisely model complex systems.

    In this chapter, we show that it is impossible to model complex enterprise information systems and complex business processes as Petri...

  10. 6 Colored Petri Nets: The Language
    (pp. 169-204)

    In chapter 5, we extended Petri nets with color and time. We used multisets to formalize the behavior of such Petri nets with color and time (CPNs). Whereas a Petri net is defined by the diagram of its network structure, a Petri net with color and time requires additional descriptions to result in a complete specification.

    In this chapter, we provide a concrete syntax for Petri nets with color and time. To this end, we present a concrete language for Petri nets with color and time with theColored Petri Net(CPN)language, as introduced by Kurt Jensen and supported...

  11. 7 Hierarchical Petri Nets
    (pp. 205-248)

    Petri nets extended with color and time (CPNs) are suitable to model the behavior of complex systems. However, despite their expressiveness, CPNs still do not provide the modeling power needed for modeling industrial systems. The weakness of CPNs is that they try to capture all behavior in one comprehensive net and do not represent the hierarchical structure of a system. As a consequence, the CPN model is typically not manageable.

    For that reason, we present a third extension of Petri nets in this chapter:hierarchy. Extending Petri nets with hierarchy makes it possible to reflect the hierarchical structure of a...

  12. 8 Analyzing Petri Net Models
    (pp. 249-322)

    We introduced Petri nets as a formalism to specify the behavior of enterprise information systems and business processes. The resulting process models can be used for different purposes. In section 1.5, we discussed the relation of business processes, information systems, and models. Process models can be design oriented or analysis oriented. In this chapter, we concentrate on the latter and introduce a wide range of Petri net analysis techniques.

    There are two kinds of analysis:design-time analysisandruntime analysis. The purpose of design-time analysis is to analyze the process model, whereas runtime analysis analyzes running business processes and enterprise...

  13. 9 Concluding Remarks
    (pp. 323-328)

    This book deals with the development and analysis of operational business processes and their information systems. The focus is on modeling business processes, as the main challenge is to realize enterprise information systems that are well aligned with the business processes and to support the further improvement of these business processes. In this concluding chapter, we first summarize the main objectives of this book (section 9.1) and then show how the various chapters contributed to these objectives (section 9.2). Finally, we reflect on the approach chosen in this book (section 9.3). 9.1 Lessons Learned In the previous chapters, we provided...

  14. Appendix A: Solutions
    (pp. 329-370)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 371-378)
  16. Index
    (pp. 379-386)